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Modi Govt's national education policy may not see light during its tenure

| | New Delhi

The Modi Government may not be able to introduce the proposed new National Education Policy (NEP) during its remaining tenure.

The committee engaged to prepare the draft of the new policy has been given three extensions. The committee’s extended term will expire on March 31, but it is nowhere close to completing its report. The existing NEP was framed in 1986 and revised in 1992. To draft a new NEP was part of BJP’s election manifesto promises.

The committee headed by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan was supposed to submit its report in December 2017. HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar’s predecessor Smriti Irani had appointed the first panel headed by former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramaniam on NEP. This worked for over two years before it was replaced by Kasturirangan committee.

Sources in HRD Ministry said the viewpoints of all the stakeholders have been received and the final call on the draft would be taken only after the end of next month. “The NEP could be very contentious policy. The Government is unlikely to take the risk of getting into controversy in its last year,” sources said.

Sources said that even if the draft is finalised in the next few months it would be an uphill task to give it a final shape during the remaining months of the Modi Government. “If preparing the draft could take more than three years, then preparing the final policy could take its own time,” said an official.

While the NEP is still in the period of incubation, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has taken a major decision that colleges or institutions with better performance can get an autonomous status like that of a deemed university allowing them to start new courses and even frame the fee guidelines. Another major decision taken by the commission is to relax the recruitment norms for PhD scholars to address the shortage of teachers in colleges.

The PhD scholars would not have to appear for the mandatory National Eligibility Test (NET) for permanent faculty posts in the universities.

The new UGC guidelines towards autonomy of the colleges also proposes that the colleges will have to remain affiliated to a university, but they will have the freedom to take all administrative decisions. They can appoint their principal, faculty, and even award degrees till the level of PhDs.

“Colleges (of any discipline) whether aided, partially aided and unaided/self-financing are eligible provided they are under Section 2(f) of the UGC Act. The college should have at least 10 years of existence,” says the UGC notification.

The autonomy status will also empower the colleges to review/initiate courses/programmes, syllabus, methods of assessment, conduct exam and declare results, allow migration and all other relevant certificates. In the present structure, all these are done by the university and colleges have to abide by this.

Further relaxing the norms of recruitment of faculty, the university watchdog has specified that candidates holding PhD under the UGC guidelines, will be able to directly apply for permanent faculty posts in any universities. This is a departure from the existing rules which, along with PhD, requires the candidate to complete NET.

However, the above notification has a rider. It mentions that only PhD scholars from the various lists of top 500 global ranking system would be allowed to skip NET.



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