In a move that could radically change the system of admissions to colleges and institutions of higher learning, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) is contemplating introducing a national – level entrance test for different streams of learning.
Speaking at the 17th National Annual Sahodaya Schools’ Conference at Bangalore, organised by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Sahodaya School Complex of Bangalore, MHRD Joint Secretary, S.C. Khuntia, said that the test would evaluate the aptitude of students in various streams at the level of Class 12 – be it Law, Science, Medicine and so on.
The percentile score obtained by a student would be accepted by institutions across institutions in the country.
This would, in effect, mean that the present system where each college or institution has its own system entrance exams would be done away with or integrated into the new system.
Mr. Khuntia said that the system might be in place by 2013, though the contours of how the exams would be framed and or who would conduct them are still to be finalized.
Mr. Khuntia also said that the MHRD was in the process of finalizing the National Vocational Qualification Framework.
The framework focuses on developing a system of vocational education with different levels of training starting at the school level from class nine, with a choice for selecting the area of interest, he said.
This could be ready by the next academic year, he added, and could address the issue of skill deficit in the country.
Speaking about the need to change the emphasis away from examinations, Mr. Khuntia pointed out that the about two – thirds of students at Class 10 in CBSE had opted not to take board exams, as they were given a choice, which indicated that children were moving away from exam – centric mindset.
The education system should move away from rote learning to one that emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving.
He urged schools affiliated to CBSE to adopt a more inclusive approach and take a lead in mentoring government schools in the cluster around their schools, and make their expertise available to a larger population.
CBSE Chairperson, Vineet Joshi, said that there was a need to change classrooms considering that the entire environment of the child – from parents to sources of knowledge – had undergone radical change.
In his pre – recorded message, which was telecast at the conference, Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said that emphasis on vocational education could widen opportunities for students.
He emphasized the need to make education more child – centric, rather than institution – centric.
Universities to have Common Academic Calendar
All universities in Karnataka will have a common academic calendar from next year, Higher Education Minister V.S. Acharya has said.
After chairing the first meeting of the Karnataka State Higher Education Council here on Wednesday, he said the Executive Committee of the council would interact with the universities and announce a common calendar by 31st December, 2010.
The common calendar is likely for courses such as B.A., M.A., B.Com., M.Com., B.Sc. and M.Sc. that are offered by all universities.
Dr. Acharya said a common academic year in all the universities would help students moving from one university to another get admission.
He also said that the council discussed the need to evolve uniform regulations for admission and migration of students to some other university.
The Executive Committee of the council would work with the universities in this regard.
Uniform admission regulations are necessary because universities have different admission policies, such as difference in minimum marks in qualifying examination, written tests for some courses, consideration of marks obtained in written test and qualifying exam together, and so on.
Dr. Acharya said the Government had received 10 to 12 proposals from various groups to establish private universities in the State on the lines of Azim Premji University and Alliance University.
He, however, said that the council would have to advise the Government on the need to formulate guidelines for establishing such universities.
The Vellore Institute of Technology, the Kalyani group and the Jain group are among those that have shown interest in setting up private universities in the State.
During the meeting, the council members felt that private universities should be allowed only in some specialised areas and there should not be two such universities offering courses in same fields.
The members said the Government should avoid setting up private universities offering common courses.
Official sources in the Higher Education Department said that the Government was contemplating bringing in a set of guidelines or regulations for private universities before granting permission for them to be set up.
“Ensuring that the private universities are not concentrated only in and around Bangalore city, reviewing of private universities once in five years, preventing them from becoming commercial ventures, and ensuring that each private university specialises in different fields of education are among the conditions being proposed in the draft guidelines,” sources said.