The year 2016 saw many highs lows as far as education is concerned. Though the Bihar examination scam dominated the headlines, the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) kept students on the tenterhook. As the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the crucial events and decisions.
India Rankings 2016: The HRD Ministry released the first government-backed ranking of Indian institutions in higher education that judged the participating institutions (both public and private) under four categories — engineering, management, pharmacy and universities.
National Education Policy: In June, former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian wrote to the then HRD Minister Smriti Irani asking her to make public his panel’s report containing suggestions for the new national education policy. Subramanian had headed the committee that drafted the report. However, after getting feedback from all states, it is expected that the government will release the policy in the first quarter of 2017.
Prakash Javadekar gets HRD Ministry: In a surprise move, Smriti Irani’s portfolio was changed and Prakash Javadekar was appointed the HRD Minister. The decision was taken at a time when the ministry was locked in a tussle with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the degree of autonomy that the government’s proposed “world-class universities” should enjoy.
National Eligibility cum Entranct Test (NEET): For the past four years, the Union Government was planning to introduce NEET for admissions in all medical colleges in India, but due to various petitions, it was delayed. Finally this year, NEET was made mandatory in a haphazard manner. The students were badly affected as for months it wasn’t clear whether the exam is based on CBSE syllabus or on the state board syllabus. Some states conducted their own medical exam (before the Supreme Court verdict came) while some waited for the decision. Therefore, CBSE conducted NEET 2 for those who did not appeared in NEET 1.
Bihar Board scam: This year’s biggest education racket was exposed when a television news channel spoke to the Bihar Board (BSEB) Class 12 exam “toppers”. Shockingly, the top scorer from the arts stream, Ruby Rai, pronounced Political Science as ‘Prodigal Science’ which according to her is a subject about cooking.
Similarly, the science stream topper, Saurabh Shreshtha also failed to answer the basic questions. This scam highlighted the poor condition of Bihar’s education and the close ties of education mafia with the local politicians. After an inquiry, several high ranking officials were arrested.
No detention policy: The Law Ministry has given the go-ahead to a HRD Ministry proposal to restrict the no-detention policy from the present Class 8 to Class 5 because children are getting undisciplined “as they do not have the fear of failing”. A cabinet note proposing amendment to the RTE Act will be moved soon.
Class 10 Board exams are back: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to make the Class 10 exam compulsory in its schools. Five years ago, they offered a choice to students to opt for the board-conducted finals or let the institution assess their performance.
Aadhar card: CBSE has made Aadhar card mandatory for students appearing for JEE (Main) in 2017, except Jammu amd Kashmir, Assam and Meghalaya. It is expected that the Aadhaar card will be made compulsory for more such entrance examinations like NEET.