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“Idea Is To Create ‘All Time Learning’ For Education”

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar speaks about higher education arena and more

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Quality education for all’, as promised by the Modi government, seems to be on track with Prakash Javadekar appointed as Minister for HRD, in July 2016. While other ministers in Modi’s regime have completed three years, Javadekar has spent only about 10 months as the minister. At a press conference announcing achievements of the Ministry, Javadekar fielded questions from journalists including a few from Sreerupa Sil.

Edited excerpts:

Primary education has been the talk of the hour. What are your plans for the future?
Our vision is to strengthen the quality of public school education. Very few are aware that 50 new Kendriya Vidyalayas have been started, 62 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas have been started followed by a line-up of another 27 this academic year. More than 94 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas have been sanctioned for this year encouraging more girl students to study in a residential set up.

Beside other developments, I am proud of laying down the learning outcomes from Grades 1 up to Grade 8. These outcomes are benchmarks for educators and schools that would ensure quality of education at the school level.

RTE saw a number of amendments this year. Your comments?
A major breakthrough in the RTE Act was doing away with the no-detention policy. Earlier, this policy allowed the automatic promotion of students till Class 8 without being detained despite of non-achievement of the passing grade. The new CABE sub-committee set up under the chairpersonship of Vasudev Devnani collated inputs and feedback on no-detention policy and came up with a bill that would detain students in Classes 5 and 8 after providing two chances to appear for the examination. Class 10 board exams have also been made mandatory for school students. This is not to punish the students, but to increase accountability of the teachers, schools, parents and the students.

There has been quite an emphasis on financing research and innovation in the higher education arena...
We initiated a Rs 2,000 crore Higher Education Financing Agency. The vision is to reach the level of Rs 20,000 crore with the support of the finance agency. These funds will be used in developing infrastructure and research.

National education policy has not yet been finalised. What is the status?
Accessibility, quality, equity, accountability and affordability are the five pillars of the policy and the vision. We have received a number of quality inputs from the states and the background work on the policy document is almost done.

Industry-academia disconnect has created a lacuna in the education ecosystem today. How do you plan to fix this?
We are trying to digitise education and make it accessible to all through initiatives such as Swayam, GIAN, Hackathon, TEQIP, National Digital Library of India, National Testing Agency and Imprint. We are in the process of setting up six new research parks, 16 technology business incubators and 600 startups.

We are also planning to reform UGC and AICTE regulations and introduce graded authority to give more freedom to quality initiatives. Open learning is also an initiative we are planning to expand. The idea is to create an ATM for education; we call it ATL or ‘all time learning’.


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