The year 2013 witnessed a major boost to several online reforms and automation processes introduced in both higher education and school-level education,replacing the traditional practices and methods of delivery system and governance. This has not only been reduced transaction time and helped authorities eliminate errors,but also brought in more accuracy and accountability,minimal human intervention and optimising time.
The University of Pune (UoP) started online delivery of question papers to a section of education institutes under its jurisdiction,and also initiated conduct of certain examinations of the engineering faculty online mode as a pilot project. The varsity extended the barcode system,introduced on a pilot basis a few months back,to 12 departments during the Oct/Nov 2013 examination session.
This was considered as a big leap forward after starting the process of online filling up of examination form by students at the end of 2012. After initial formidable opposition from several students and other stakeholders in view of teething troubles associated with the examination reforms,these mandatory measures initiated by the UoP have been gaining support.
It is noteworthy that in July,the state government had invoked special powers under the Maharashtra Universities Act,1994 to prevail upon varsities to to introduce online reforms and automation processes recommended by the high-level committee,which was headed by the secretary of the Information and Technology Department of Maharashtra,Rajesh Aggarwal. The 19-member committee had advocated that universities should try and implement its recommendations on pilot basis by the first half of 2013 and in a full-fledged manner thereafter.
UoP is believed to be pioneering in implementing several reforms suggested by the panel. The examination process automation initiated by the Examination Section envisages the need for radical reforms in traditional examination and assessment system and aims at evolving a credible,effective and transparent evaluation system that responds confidently to the challenges and n demands of a knowledge society, UoPs controller of examination,Sampada Joshi had said.
At the level of school-based education,the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education,commonly called as the state board,had started online acceptance of application forms from class XII students for February-March 2014 examination,from November.
After successful pilot during supplementary examination,held in October,the state board decided to replicate the initiative of online acceptance of online examination forms for regular examination also,which is taken by more than 13 lakh students from class XII every year.
The Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research (Balbharati),which started putting up soft-copies of textbooks on its website from mid 2012,took the online initiative a step forward by making available more number of textbooks in the form of e-content.
The State Directorate of Education started onsline salary payment system for school teachers from around four districts in the state,including Pune district. Named as Shalartha,the system has brought more accountability and transparency in salary disbursement process.
Among other tech-savvy initiatives,the education department introduced special software during first half of 2013 for settling all the pending scholarship claims of mid-school,high-school and pre-matric scholarships to clear all the pendency.