Modi 2.0 heralds a new era for higher education in the country
June 14, 2020

Prof. Harish CS Rathore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a new axiom to the nation: ‘Self Reliance’ or ‘Aatmnirbhar’, a futuristic term rendered to the nation, considering the imminent geo-political conditions. With his transformative policies, perseverance and the spirit of ‘Team India’, his leadership philosophies have always provided a new direction to the country’s democracy. Despite the recent turbulence of pandemic and the prolonged disruptions caused by the needless protests resorted to sporadically in the country, the development of India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi has remained his conspicuous achievement. The completion of the first year of Modi 2.0 is all about three Cs – Conviction, Courage and Commitment. First, some courageous commitments of the government to resolve long lying imbroglio, like abrogation of article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, further the division of the state, bold decisions about CAA/NRC, triple talaq and ensuing unsolicited stirs, acted as a deterrent for the well determined schemes for the welfare of common man; and which targeted high economic growth as well. Second, in the very first year stint of the government, disaster of pandemic Covid-19 rattled not only the entire population of the country but also the world. Despite so much troubled waters and global turbulence in economy, caused by pandemic, the common man of one of the largest democracy of the world feels, and undoubtedly is, confident, courageous and fervent. Reason: the ship of the nation is being heralded by a sagacious hand. His vision of welfare oriented development of the citizens with national interest is being reflected in each and every decision of the government.

With stimulation of inspiring mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, India is trooping forward in all development domains. Various initiatives have also been undertaken to improve one and all’s educational experience, especially making it accessible to all the sections of society. Much more is still to be achieved; and the plan of action framed in all the sectors vividly appears to be outstanding. It is said that the destiny of a nation is shaped in its classrooms, with this mindset Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) seems to have heralded a number of reforms in India’s education policy. With a promise of providing “education to all”, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’, HRD Minister, has taken several steps to impart quality education and is in top gear towards strengthening a system, established over the years by successive governments of the past. 

Major decisions to enhance the education sector added momentum to the nation’s development trajectory. In order to bring quality improvement, the National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement (NISHTHA) was launched on in August 2019. It helps improve and enhance learning outcomes at the Elementary level through the Integrated Teacher Training Programme. An expenditure of Rs 550 crore has been incurred on the training programmes with a model for collaborative growth, promoting self-improvement and ensuring the enhancement of education as per the record available on the portal of NISHTHA. Different teacher training programmes for all 4600 leading collaborator Principals were successfully organized and completed by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in order to augment the teaching quality. Four-year Integrated Teacher Education Programme for pre-primary to primary and upper primary to secondary was notified by NCTE to raise the quality of pre-service education. The ongoing government has taken several stipulating decisions to accelerate the pace of quality education in the nation.

Government-led missions such as Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya National Mission on Teachers and Teaching, LEAP (Leadership for Academician Programme), ARPIT (Annual Refresher Programme in Teaching), PARAMARSH and NITTTR are rigorously monitored schemes that have proved to be blessings in the field of higher education: a) to ensure the provision of qualified teachers; b) to attract talent to the teaching profession and c) to upgrade teaching quality in schools and colleges.

Many recruitments in schools and higher education institutions have been made under various flagship programmes such as DHRUV, DIKSHA, PISA and many more to ameliorate educational growth with the goal of mentoring and nurturing talented children to hone their skills and knowledge so that they could realize and exploit  their full potential. According to the current data available at MHRD portal, the number of schools approved under Vocational Education rises from 3495 in 2015-2016 to 11434 in the year 2019-2020, which is a positive sign of improving the education sector. Different schemes play vital role in boosting the growth in education sector such as Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat. Library grant and promotion of reading was introduced to inculcate student reading habits with an emphasis on improving school libraries. The MHRD has allocated a Budget of Rs 711.64 crore under library grant for schools of different categories in the year 2019-2020. A Scheme for providing education to Madrasas/Minorities (SPEMM) has been introduced with an allocated budget of Rs.119.90 to improve quality education and infrastructure development.  With the vision of overall development of the students, scheme such as Khele India Khile India (grant for sports and physical education) and Jeevan Kaushal were brought into effect. A number of flagship programmes have been launched to speed up the pace of imparting knowledge and skills such as SWAYAM, NEAT, NDL, E-Shodh Sindhu, PGI, Shaala Darpan and many more established to lift the momentum of quality teaching and the rate increases exponentially within 2019-2020. Numerous educational reforms like external commercial borrowings and FDI have also been introduced to provide higher education. The innovative planning in the sector of education would have reached even in hinterland and the government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the access to education for aspirants of our countryside.  Establishment and outcomes of 15 New Central Universities, like for example, Central University of South Bihar, located in remote rural area, is just one precedent in our proximity where there is a phenomenal rise in the number of enrolment of rural aspirants for higher education; and notably the quality of education, being imparted, is also exemplary.  

Data available on NCERT and MHRD portals reveal that research and development field was equally focused – both at school and higher education level. The number of patents filed by IITs increased from 599 in year 2015-2016 to 726 in 2019-2020.  Even the academic and research performance of newly established universities like CUSB is remarkable. Schemes such as STARS, IMPRESS, IMPRINT, PMRF, SPARC, STRIDE were implemented with the goal of promoting India-centric research projects in science and other disciplines that are inter-disciplinary and transnational in outcome. Construction of infrastructure was also strongly centered with the development of nine new JNVs and 18 newly built Kendriya Vidyalayas alongwith disbursement of around 30 thousand crore through HEFA for infrastructure projects in higher education. In order to boost the quality of education for minority children, schemes such as IDMI have been started to increase facilities in private/ aided / unaided minority schools / institutions.

Popular initiatives inspired by the Prime Minister like ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’, ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, ‘Fit India Campaign, ‘Nagarik Kartavaya Palan Abhiyan’, ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ were successfully taken with a high vision of reinforcing skills and awareness among students with a strong holistic development.  PM Modi has remained empathetic to the psyche of examinees: their exam related perplexities and difficulties were pondered over; and to remove students’ difficulties related to IQ and EQ, discussions like ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ were done which magically eased off the students from all phobias and pressures related to examination. As a result of these initiatives, number of registered students increased from 45168 in 2017 to 208839 in 2019 as per GOI data.

Unprecedented improvement in the education of girls has been witnessed in recent past. To bring gender parity in education and to empower girls of urban and rural communities over 5930 new Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya schools have been established. Girl students are given training for self-defense there; and national scheme for incentives to girls for secondary education were also implemented. 

International interface of school education, higher education has also been strengthened with the formulation of INDSAT, which is part of the “Study in India” programme proposed to be held in Asian and African countries. GIAN, ASEAN Fellowship AS/TE & DUO-India Fellowship have been launched with an aim to make India a preferred education destination/hub for foreign students. 

Job-oriented education was also enabled with a key aspect that about 150 higher educational institutions are going to start apprenticeship embedded degree/diploma by March 2021. A sum of more than Rs. 37000 crores was approved for the modernization of 75 educational institutions to empower young India with skills and opportunities. Under ‘Start- Up India Campaign’, 27,000 new start-ups were also recognized. ‘Skill India Mission’ and ‘National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme’ provides necessary funds for self –employment.

In the tough situation like COVID-19 lockdown where the pandemic has stagnated all educational processes and practices of Indian Education System for the first time, the education cycle is still moving to keep the hope of students alive and to impart quality education. With that great vision, the HRM Shri Nishank has worked tirelessly during this period and has launched numerous flagship programmes in the sector of education so as to enable the teaching fraternity to enable to cope up with this unprecedented adversity. Now we have also been equipped with an alternative strategy focused on equality and access through digital education, such as PM e-Vidya and the launch of YUKTI web portal. Manodarpan was also launched to provide mental health support to cover a wide range of activities for holistic psychological support in a comprehensive and multimodal manner. 

The dream of the harbingers of education like Gautam Budh, Swami Dayanand, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chand Vidyasaagar seems to have come true now. This is the vision of our policy makers that instils optimism among citizenry and thus further encourages them to march forward. The exclusivity of our educational planning is the education with holistic development and with adherence to our cultural roots. Hopefully our education is passing through a transitional phase and the outcome would be a more bright indigenous education system rather than stale, imitated and hackneyed old one. Hopefully, we are on the path of developing our own holistic education framework which will constitute all good qualities of the framework of Rudolph Steiner, John Dewey and Blavatsky, but in spirit and body, it will be our own.

(The author is Vice Chancellor of Central University of South Bihar)

(Cover Photo: PTI)

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