Govt to set up national testing agency

May conduct GATE, NET exams from next year

Ministry of Human Resource Development is considering setting up a body by executive order to conduct various national level entrance tests, a change of mind from its earlier proposal to install the body through a law.

“We will set up the National Testing Agency by an executive order. And to start with, it would be allowed to conduct National Eligibility Test (NET) and Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) from next year,” Union Higher Education secretary Ashok Thakur said when asked if the body will be set up by a law of Parliament.

Former HRD Minister Kapil Sibal announced February last year that the testing authority will be a statutory body, but the government seem to have had a change of mind since several of its key legislations have been waiting for a long time for clearance at the Parliament.

HRD Minister MM Pallam Raju said the proposal to set up the agency will be discussed in the upcoming Central Advisory Board on Education meeting andfinal decision will be taken after discussions with the states.

The idea has drawn a “very positive” response from various stakeholders so far, he added.

Thakur said University Grants Commission (UGC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian Institutes of Technology have given their in principal approval to the proposal.

The GATE has also favoured the proposal during a meeting, he said, adding, “By and large, they have agreed to come on board. The minister insisted that the system will not be forced on any institution. “The agency will prepare question papers and hold the test for those who wish to be part of it,” he added.

Raju was evasive to questions about the ministry’s considerations on extending the deadline for Right To Education (Act) from March 31, acceding to demands from various states. “The deadline is the objective. It is apparent that most states are going to miss it, but that does not mean we will leave the objective. We will constitute a committee to show seriousness of the implementation,” he said.

The norms for recruiting teachers have been relaxed in for 13 states. These include Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, UP and West Bengal, he added.

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