Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development (HRD) Dr Ram Shankar Katheria Thursday said the Centre was mulling to relieve government school teachers from non-academic assignments such as election duty etc, in order to improve the quality of education.
According to Katheria, deliberations are on to find out a solution so that teachers are not occupied in such non-academic work which adversely affects the education of children.
“Our government is also thinking about it how the teachers, especially those working in rural areas, can concentrate only on education. Presently, primary teachers are involved in elections, census surveys and other programmes. We are trying to think of ways to meet this challenge,” Katheria said while addressing the 19th Nirma International Conference on Management at Nirma University here.
Katheria also said that the US-based global ranking agencies that assess Indian universities have “several shortcomings”. He said that the NDA government “does not believe” in these rankings as these agencies mark Indian universities based on “conceptions formed in the past”.
“We always discuss about Indian universities not figuring in the list of top 200 global universities… We have talked about this with officials in the ministry… It is not that our students lack talent or our management schools have some sort of a shortcoming… It has come to our notice that the two agencies that are working (on these rankings) are US-based… They assess our universities based on conceptions that they have formed in the past and so our universities mostly do not make it in the top 200,” said Katheria.
“We do not think that the rankings are being done in a proper manner. There are lot of shortcomings. We do not believe in them.” he added. The minister without naming the “US-based ranking agencies” told the audience at the event that over 70,000 people are involved in the ranking process. “They have refused to tell us the number of Indians involved…. We are studying their processes and we are trying to gauge how many people from India are involved in this process.” Katheria said.
“We have also found other reasons (for low ranking of Indian universities). We noticed that 70 percent of foreign students who come to study in India every year are from Nepal,” the minister said adding that students from developed countries like UK and US pursuing higher studies in India are minuscule. “There are marks for these things are well.” he added.
The government has not been happy about only a couple of Indian universities making it into global ranking. For instance, in 2015 QS ranking, there are two institutions in the top 200 — IIT Delhi and IISc Bangalore.
“We have sat with our PM and talked to him on this issue for 3-4 hours. How can we achieve global standards…. So it was decided to bring in top faculty from universities across the globe,” the minister said adding that 500 foreign professors will be brought to India who will teach for a semester at premier institutes like IITs and IIMs and the cost will be borne by the HRD Ministry. “Next year we will increase the number of foreign professors to 1000.” he added.
New Education Policy
Talking about the new education policy that the government is working on, Katheria later told mediapersons, “For the new education policy we have visited different states. We have taken their suggestions. Over 29,000 on-line suggestions have come to us in connection with the new education policy. In the next two-three months, I am hopefully that we will be able to give it a final shape.”
“We are not doing it in a hurry. The country has a pluralistic structure. A number of questions might arise, so we are trying to do it with consensus,” he added.
“Gujarat Model is the talk of the town in every corner of the country. There is competition of moving ahead in the field of technology and industry. although there is no problem of lack of capacity, we have to think how we can progress and teachers can play an important role in this,” the minister said while addressing the Gujarat Technological University teachers and the officials.
GTU vice-chancellor Akshai Aggarwal, on the occasion, said that 85 per cent of the budget for higher education of HRD ministry was allocated to central universities. He said that the higher education budget of the central government be available for the state universities also.
Aggarwal said that GTU was the number one among universities in filing patents.