Express Rewind: While Emraan Hashmi is all set to expose the examination scams in his latest flick Cheat India, there were many paper leaks happened this year which shocked the nation. From the CBSE Class 12 Economics exam paper leak to alleged leak of Staff Selection Commission’s (SSC) CGL 2017 exam. The probe is on in these cases.
The government’s decision to scrap homework for Class 1, 2 students, and setting limits to the weight of school bags to granting the Institute of Eminence status to best institutes of India was praised by many, likewise many academicians criticised its role to dissolve University Grants Commission (UGC). As the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the crucial events and decisions happened in the education sector.
Year-ender 2018: Top education news of this year
Institute of Eminence status
The Union Human Resource Development Ministry in July granted the Institution of Eminence (IoE) status to the IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay and IISc Bangalore. From the private sector, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education, BITS Pilani, and Jio Institute were granted the tag. The UGC had received 103 applications including JNU and Delhi University for IoE status. The selection of Reliance Foundation’s non-existent Jio Institute triggered a political debate with the Opposition accusing the NDA of favouritism. As per the RTI filed by The Indian Express, the government internally disagreed about the Jio institute,
CBSE paper leak
The paper leak of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE Class 10, 12) examinations is one of the biggest education scams of this year, as the board has to cancel the papers of both Class 12 examinations following the leak. The police had made significant arrest in this case, 12 people were arrested from Bihar in connection CBSE Class 10 Mathematics paper leak, and three from Delhi for CBSE Class 12 Economics paper leak.
To prevent the paper leak, from this year the board is planning to use encrypted question papers. Under the encrypted system, each examination centre will be provided with login details and the question paper will be printed in the school and then photocopied and distributed.
No homework for classes 1, 2 students, HRD ministry limits school bag weight
The students of classes 1 and 2 do not have to do homework, as per the directives issued by the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry to states and union territories. The directives also mentioned the prescribed weight limit of school bags for each class.
According to the official order, the HRD ministry has “instructed all the states and Union Territories to formulate guidelines to regulate the teaching of subjects and weight of school bags in accordance with the Government of India instructions”.
As per these instructions, which the schools have been asked to comply with, institutions cannot assign homework to students of classes I and II. “Schools should not prescribe any other subjects except language and mathematics for classes I and II and language, EVS and mathematics for classes III to V students as prescribed by the NCERT,” the order said.
JEE Main to be conducted twice a year
The HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar in July announced that JEE (Mains) will be conducted twice a year. While the JEE (Mains) will be held in January and April, NEET will be conducted in May, the minister said.
The latest development has come as a breather for many students grappling with the inadequate time to prepare for these exams, which were previously conducted once a year. Earlier, students used to appear for these exams just after their Class 12 Board, forcing them to focus on their board and entrance exams simultaneously.
CBSE relaxes passing criteria for Class 10 students
In a relief to Class 10 students, the Central Board of Secondary Education has extended the passing criteria. “To give relaxation to students, the board has decided to ease the passing criteria for Class 10 students from 2019,” said CBSE chairman Anita Karwal. From next year, the students need to get a minimum of 33 per cent marks in theory and practical combined to declare pass in the subject.
“It has now been decided to extend the same passing criteria henceforth for the students of secondary classes i.e. candidates appearing for Class 10 examination 2019 onwards will have to secure 33 per cent (both taken together) in the subjects to be eligible to pass the subject,” mentioned the official release. Earlier, CBSE had announced that students do not have to pass separately in theory as well as practical exams.
Senior executives can now be IIM director
Future directors of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) may no longer need to have anything to do with academia — or even possess a PhD. According to rules notified under the IIM Act this week, executives, who have been in senior management roles for at least 15 years, will now be eligible to be appointed as directors.
The premier business schools, in the past, have been headed by corporate executives, but such examples are few and far between. Ravi J Matthai, the first full-time director of IIM-Ahmedabad in 1965, and Subir Chowdhury, who headed IIM-Calcutta in the 1990s, are two such examples.
Scrapping of UGC
The Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry had in July announced its decision to replace the University Grants Commission (UGC) with the Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) by repealing the UGC Act, 1951.
According to a draft, which has been placed in the public domain by the ministry to seek feedback from the stakeholders, the new commission will solely focus on the academic matters and monetary grants would be under the purview of the ministry. The decision has not gone down well with a section of academicians, who have questioned the move saying politicians should not be involved in academic matters.
UGC scraps 100% weight for the interview in PhD, MPhil, brings in test
Rolling back the controversial selection rule for research students, the University Grants Commission (UGC) scrapped oral interviews, or viva-voce, as the sole criterion for admission to Ph D and M.Phil programmes.
The higher education regulator has amended the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for Award of M.Phil/ Ph.D Degree) Regulations 2016 to give 70 per cent weightage to performance in the written entrance test and 30 per cent to the oral interview for the final selection of a candidate, The Indian Express has learned.
The commission has also permitted relaxation of five percentage points in the minimum marks to be scored in the written test by SC, ST and OBC candidates. So, while a general candidate will have to secure at least 50 per cent in the entrance examination to qualify for the interview or viva voice, a candidate from the reserved category will have to score 45 per cent.
Visva Bharati VC row: Tussle between govt and president on the appointment of VC
The government asked President Ram Nath Kovind to overturn his decision on the appointment of Visva Bharati University Vice-Chancellor (V-C) only after he ignored HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar’s recommendation for the post and chose Swapan Kumar Dutta instead, according to official records accessed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
As reported by The Indian Express on February 23, Kovind, in an unprecedented move, withdrew his assent to Dutta’s selection as the head of Visva Bharati in Santiniketan, at the behest of the HRD Ministry. He also scrapped the panel of three finalists forwarded by the government last year.
National Medical Commission Bill
Government think-tank NITI Aayog has pitched for enactment of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill, 2017, observing that regulatory bodies the Medical Council of India and the Nursing Council of India have “failed” to ensure adequate availability and quality of health professionals.
In its ‘Strategy for New India @75’ document released on Wednesday, the Aayog has recommended revamp of the regulatory system of nursing education to ensure quality training in nursing schools and also stressed on developing centres of excellence in nursing and enhancing the stature of government nurses, as reported by PTI.
False academic records, Motihari VC Arvind Agrawal resigns
The Vice-Chancellor of Mahatma Gandhi Central University (MGCU) in Bihar, Arvind Agrawal was resigned from the post following allegations of falsifying his academic records.
Agrawal was appointed as MGCU’s first V-C by the incumbent government in February 2016 from a panel of three names submitted by the search-cum-selection committee headed by Harish Chandra Rathore, head of Central University of South Bihar.