#DHRecaps 2018 | Rows over IoE, UGC for HRD

#DHRecaps 2018 | Rows over IoE, UGC for HRD

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar

The year going by saw the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry remaining at the centre of a major controversy over the selection of the Reliance Foundation's non-existent 'Jio Institute' in Maharashtra for 'Institute of Eminence' tag under greenfield category.

As the issue reverberated in Parliament during the Monsoon Session, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar clarified in both the Houses that only a letter of intent had been issued to the sponsor of the proposed 'Jio Institute' and that the IoE tag will be granted to it only after a review of its status in three years.

The critics, however, remained dissatisfied with the minister's clarification.

The question remained unanswered as to how exactly a four-member empowered expert committee (EEC) under former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswami found the Reliance Foundation's proposal fittest for the IoE tag under green field category among a total of 11 applicants which included Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and the Bharti (Satya Bharti Foundation), Delhi.

Apart from the non-existent Jio Institute, the ministry also announced names of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Bombay, IIT-Delhi and BITS Pilani, Rajasthan for the IoE tag on July 9.

The year also saw the ministry's attempt to replace the university grants commission (UGC) with a higher education commission of India (HRD) hitting a major roadblock. The draft bill for the establishment of the proposed regulatory body drew stiff opposition from the university and college teachers as well as political parties.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi contending that the draft bill if enacted in its present form will have a “major adverse impact” on the higher education in general and public funded higher education in particular.

Enforcement of the department-wise roaster system by the UGC following the Allahabad court's verdict in 2017 for filling up vacant posts of teachers in universities and colleges remained another contentious issue until the end of 2018.

While the universities and college teachers bodies protested the move saying the department wise roaster system would deny teaching job opportunities to candidates belonging to reserved categories, the HRD ministry filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court seeking reversal of the Allahabad high court's order only after a parliamentary committee recommended for it.

In March, the school education department of the ministry and the central board of secondary education faced much heat over class X and XII board examination paper leaks.

Though the cases were registered by police and at least 15 persons were also arrested in Delhi and Jharkhand in connection with the leak of question papers of Class X Mathematics and Class XII Economics, the CBSE conducted re-examination for the Economics paper only.

The Class X students of the CBSE schools took the compulsory board examinations this year after a gap of eight years with the ministry scraping the optional board examination system on demands from a majority of the States.

The Ministry's much-hyped proposal to bring a new education policy remained elusive for yet another year even as it continued facing protests from the university teachers and students throughout the year over many of its policy decisions taken in the higher education sector in the last four and half years.

In a significant move, meanwhile, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) came up with a revised curriculum for engineering and other technical education programmes after a gap of over 15 years.

The fate of an amendment bill seeking to tweak the no detention policy under the Right to Education Act and empower the States to re-introduce annual examinations for the students of classes V and VIII remained in limbo.

The much-awaited Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Second Amendment) Bill, 2017, which was passed by the Lok Sabha in July almost a year after it was introduced in the Lower House, was due to be considered and passed by the Rajya Sabha. 

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