Honâ€™ble Union Minister of HRD Smt. Smirit Irani asked private educational institutions to collaborate with government in improving access, transparency and quality of higher education in India, while announcing a series of new initiatives by her ministry to help students with quality academic content and other supports to prepare for countryâ€™s premier educational institutions such as IITs.
Speaking at a National Conference â€œReforming & Rejuvenating Indiaâ€™s Higher Educationâ€ organized by theEducation Promotion Society for India (EPSI) in the capital, the minister urged the private institutions to participate in governmentâ€™s Unnat Bharat programme of under which premier educational institutions such as IIMs & IITs are adoptingÂ neighbouringÂ villages and rejuvenating their educational system.
â€œConsidering the spread of mobile technology that has reached even the hitherto unexplored areas of the country, we would be launching Bharat Vani App on May 25 that would provide the students with higher education study material in 22 different languages. However, within next year, we would provide access to the same content in 100 non-scheduled and tribal languages, for greater reach and accessibility. We are also coming up with innovative mobile app and portal, IIT Pal, that would provide the engineering aspirants with IIT question papers of last 50 years to all the students across the country. The portal and app would also have video lectures by top notch faculty and audio aid in 13 different languages,â€said the Honâ€™ble Minister.
The minister also urged the organization to help in identifying elements which are compromising with studentsâ€™ interest for the sake of commercial benefits, thus, bringing disrepute to the entire sector.
â€œWhen we talk about stakeholders, it is important to see which of all stakeholders get predominance. For me, I believe, it is the students who are the main stakeholders and every policy and reform should revolve in the interest of the students. Currently, Indian higher education is facing many ripples. However, I feel looking at an issue as a challenge brings negative connotation, but viewing at it as an opportunity will bring new perspective and inspiration. We need to leverage technology to benefit the education sector.â€ added the Honâ€™ble Minister.
Further, asking for participation of private institutions she talked about expansion of the MOOC (massive open online course) platform named SWAYAM that has 500 courses to begin with. â€œSWAYAM would be a unique and first platform in the country to give proper credits and disseminate the knowledge across a wide cross section,â€ suggested the Honâ€™ble Minister keeping in mind the high dropout rates from 8th standard onwards.
On the occasion, the Minister also unveiled a new education portal www.studyinindia.org, put together by the Education Promotion Society for India with an aim to be a single platform to bind all education providers from India, and help seekers avail most authentic and complete information on education.
The conference began with a panel discussion on â€œFraming the Agenda for Higher Education Reform- How to balance Autonomy with Nation Building?â€ which included eminent academicians like Prof. Dr. S Sivasubramanian, Advisor-Research & Development, Vels University, Prof. Hari Gautam, Chairman, UGC Review Committee & Chancellor, NIMS University, Prof. V S Rao Vice Chancellor, BITS Pilani , Prof. (Dr.) C Raj Kumar Founding Vice Chancellor, O P Jindal Global University, Shri J S Neerav Vice Chairman, BOG, Thapar University, Prof. Indira J Parikh Former Director, IIM, Ahmedabad, Shri Satya Narayanan R Founder, Career Launcher.
The conference provided a unique interface between the academia of the country and the policymakers on issues crucial to Indiaâ€™s higher education reform. Pertinent questions such as â€˜How to balance Autonomy (of education institutes) with Nation Building?â€™; â€˜How to Streamline Quality Assurance, Accreditation & Rankingâ€™; and â€˜How to Make Higher Education, a source of Skill Development & Success of Make-in-Indiaâ€™ were some of the key issues discussed at the forum.
â€œA number of issues bedevil Indiaâ€™s higher education system. Among them are issues pertaining to regulation, ranking and quality assurance, which are being taken seriously by the government through bodies like NAAC. With the growth of a large number of private institutions and universities, there is also increased demand for improved regularization and supervision. Yet, at the same time, institutions have sometimes complained about politicization and lack of autonomy. While there are no two minds on the need for a major overhaul in Indiaâ€™s higher education system, there are differences that need to be ironed out. Through this platform our aim is to provide such an interface between policymakers and education providers to arrive at a common minimum agenda for reform,â€ says Dr. G Viswanathan, President, EPSI.
Dr Vishwanathan also on behalf of EPSI assured the minister that all members of EPSI will extend full support to the ministry in all their initiatives and suggestions made by her during the conference. He also said that EPSI is committed towards improving the accessibility, transparency and quality of higher education in India and will be leaving no stone unturned to ensure the same.