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  1. Volume 2 Month 8 Day 20 – Yashpal Committee report

    by

    Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’

    FOREWORD

    It is a pleasure to present the report of the “Committee to Advise on the Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education”. This has been a deep immersion for my colleagues and me. We hope that we have come out with something that would make a difference. To give you some background of our work, it would be best if I start by quoting from the letter I wrote to the then Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Arjun Singh, while forwarding our Draft Report on 1st of March, 2009:

    “I am submitting the Draft Interim Report of the Committee you had set up through a Notification on 28th of February 2008. You had given us a year. The committee was originally supposed to review UGC/AICTE and various other Councils connected with higher education. The expressed, and the overall implied, hope was that we might be able to suggest ways of moving our higher education to a more active and creative form. I felt that engaging with listing the limitations and faults of these two organizations would not be very productive, besides being very limiting. We did not want to expend our energies in suggesting minor and major modifications in their structures; instead we decided to explore some basic aberrations in our system that are generally ignored. Therefore, a few months down the line I came to you to suggest that our task might be made broader; that we should be asked to advise on “Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education”. I was both pleased and overwhelmed that you conceded to my request. As you would notice, the salient points of our report also meet the essence of the earlier, more limited, task given to us.

    We were struck by the fact that over the years we have followed policies of fragmenting our educational enterprise into cubicles. We have overlooked that new knowledge and new insights have often originated at the boundaries of disciplines. We have tended to imprison disciplinary studies in opaque walls. This has restricted flights of imagination and limited our creativity. This character of our education has restrained and restricted our young right from the school age and continues that way into college and university stages. Most instrumentalities of our education harm the potential of human mind for constructing and creating new knowledge. We have emphasized delivery of information and rewarded capability of storing information. This does not help in creating a knowledge society. This is particularly vile at the university level because one of the requirements of a good university should be to engage in knowledge creation – not just for the learner but also for society as a whole.
    It became clear to us, therefore, that the overall regulating structure for all higher education should be just one. This would imply that the UGC and AICTE should be subsumed within a single Higher Education Commission. There is no need for separate Councils for various areas and the responsibilities of various existing Councils should be changed to define the floor-exit qualifications of personnel who exit from the respective institutions. Knowledge and curricular details would be determined by appropriate universities under guidelines of appropriate structures set up by various wings of Higher Education Commission. Some details about the structure of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), various bodies attached to it and other aspects are discussed in the report. (It might be noted that the justification and role of the suggested HEC are different from those proposed by the Knowledge Commission). We hope the Commission
    proposed by us would also act as a facilitator and catalyst for joint programs between different Universities and other institutions.

    Let me point to some of the recommendations that have arisen from this way of thinking. Our report comes at a time when there is a refreshing seriousness about doing some thing ambitious and unprecedented in our higher education. A large number of Central universities are being set up. Also several Institutes of Technology, Management and other areas. During a Report of ‘The Committee to Advise on Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’ opaque walls. This has restricted flights of imagination and limited our creativity. This character of our education has restrained and restricted our young right from the school age and continues that way into college and university stages. Most instrumentalities of our education harm the potential of human mind for constructing and creating new knowledge. We have emphasized delivery of information and rewarded capability of storing information. This does not help in creating a knowledge society. This is particularly vile at the university level because one of the requirements of a good university should be to engage in knowledge creation – not just for the learner but also for society as a whole. It became clear to us, therefore, that the overall regulating structure for all higher education should be just one. This would imply that the UGC and AICTE should be subsumed within a single Higher Education Commission. There is no need for separate Councils for various areas and the responsibilities of various existing Councils should be changed to define the floor-exit qualifications of personnel who exit from the respective institutions. Knowledge and curricular details would be determined by appropriate universities under guidelines of appropriate structures set up by various wings of Higher Education Commission. Some details about the structure of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), various bodies attached to it and other aspects are discussed in the report. (It might be noted that the justification and role of the suggested HEC are different from those proposed by the Knowledge Commission). We hope the Commission proposed by us would also act as a facilitator and catalyst for joint programs between different Universities and other institutions.
    lot of discussion in this regard we have also talked of World-Class Universities. We would like to point out that there are no great universities in the world that do not simultaneously conduct world class programs in science, astronomy, management, languages, comparative literature, philosophy, psychology, information technology, law, political science, economics, agriculture and many other emerging disciplines. Indeed the emerging disciplines do their emerging because of infection or triggering by other fields in the same university. That is the reason that such universities are so great and our academics keep going to them. Our argument is that they would not be great if they could not accommodate people from many other disciplines. Put together, all the disciplines, breed value into each other. If forced to stay in isolation from each other they would not have the character demanded for greatness. It is our strong recommendation that the new Universities, including those we call Indian Institutes of Technology – or Management should have the character of such world-class universities. Furthermore, the existing Institutes of Technology whose competence as excellent undergraduate institutions we do recognize (also their brand name) should be challenged to play a bigger role – for example similar to that of great universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) or Caltech. In addition, like these great universities of the world they should engage with a much wider universe of knowledge, both at undergraduate and post graduate levels.

    We are also convinced that Indian higher education as a whole cannot go far without our paying equal attention to the State universities. They are also Indian universities and a large fraction our students will continue to come from them. Many of them are as good as our Central institutions and should be given a chance to fly. We should think seriously about the manner in which the motivation and resources are enhanced all over the country. I would like to mention our deep concern in respect of two matters.

    Mushrooming engineering and management colleges, with some notable exceptions, have largely become, mere business entities dispensing very poor quality education. We have made some recommendations in this regard.

    Deemed Universities have also mushroomed. Most of them do not belong to the same class as those recognized as such twenty years ago. This provision was reserved for a few truly outstanding education and research institutions, with a consideration that they would bring depth and variety into the education system. We are seriously concerned about the character and value of the recent explosive growth and have made specific recommendations in this regard.

    Finally, we would share with you the prevalent feeling in the universities that there is too much inspection, interference and delay in their dealings with
    State and Central Governments. I am sure universities and colleges should themselves share some blame in this regard, but we need to move away from this blame game. We have to devise somewhat different, more efficient, funding management system. We have made some recommendations in this regard. We would recommend that universities should become self- regulating partners in managing the overall education system. Continuous monitoring and inspection cause delays and lead to corruption. Some suggestions in this regard have also been made.”

    You would notice that we are placing supreme importance on the character of universities. They must create new knowledge. Besides making people capable of creating wealth they have a deep role in the overall thinking of society and the world as a whole. This job cannot be performed in secluded corners of information and knowledge. It would be silly to deny the practical role of experts in areas of science, technology, economics, finance and management. But narrow expertise alone does not make educated human beings for tomorrow. Indeed, speaking more seriously, one could almost say that most serious problems of the world today arise from the fact that we are dominated by striations of expertise with deep chasms in between.

     

    A year and some months after we started I feel that I have been engaged in a movement in which there has been lot of thinking and an enormous amount
    of sharing. We did have several meetings in proper meeting rooms, but we also had open interaction with close to a thousand Vice-Chancellors, Principals of Colleges and teachers. In addition, in most places we visited there was interaction with large groups, school and college students. For me meetings with children are always energizing because they are not yet fully imprisoned in disciplines. After all this I have been left with a deep feeling of optimism. Hidden in small places, in obscure schools, colleges and universities, there are potential geniuses to be discovered. Many of them could be the great knowledge creators of tomorrow. We have to discover and implement ways that would not put useless hurdles in their path. That is our challenge. I do not propose to go over every thing that has been said in our report. But a few essential might be worth repeating: We have suggested that the present regulating bodies should all be subsumed within a National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER). To reduce most possibilities of interference this Commission should be established through a Constitutional amendment and have a Constitutional status.

    A suggested provision to be inserted appropriately in the Constitution through an amendment is annexed with the Report. NCHER has not been visualised as a Czar. The autonomy of universities is to be respected and we should not enforce dead uniformity. They do not have to be carbon copies of each other. Quite a few suggestions have been made to improve the method of appointment of Vice-Chancellors and internal working of universities.
    To highlight our suggestions for the management system within a University it has been suggested that our best run institutions, in ascending order might be some of the Central Universities, IITs and IIMs. They might show the way to others. Stand-alone single discipline institutions should try to broaden themselves to provide a more wholesome education to their students and thus qualify for the title of a degree giving university. We have addressed the question of public private partnership appropriately, welcoming a proper movement in this direction. And a lot of other matters, such as the question of affiliated colleges, have been discussed at length. We have been conscious of the fact that our committee should not try to do the job of the proposed NCHER.
    But I do reserve the right to add that in order to enrich our higher education we might invite from abroad a substantial number of potentially great academics and scientists to work with our students and teachers, instead of importing mediocre foreign universities to set up shop here.

    I also want to express my deep appreciation of the fact that Shri Arjun Singh sensed the value of what we were trying to do, when I went to him with a request to change the name and charge of our Committee after two months of deep collective thinking. I would also like to disclose that before I agreed to get involved with this work, I had a conversation with the Prime Minister and got the impression that some out of the box thinking might not be frowned upon. Indeed, it was expected. Perhaps we have done a bit of that. A few words with Shri Kapil Sibal, after he agreed to steer the MHRD also assured me that some real resonance might be around the corner!
     
    I think this is more than enough for a Foreword. I want to personally thank every one who has contributed to this unique effort and given so much of their time and talent. It has been a rare privilege to be given the chance of spending so much time with my distinguished colleagues. I assure you all that,whatever the fate of your Report, your work will have a meaning for our future.

    Download :  Yashpal Committee report

    Yash Pal

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  2. Volume 2 Month 8 Day 15 – Noncognitive skills,school achievements and educational dropout

    by
    Noncognitive skills,school achievements and educational dropout We analyse the determinants of dropout from secondary and vocational education in Germany using data from the Socio-Economic Panel from 2000 to 2007. In addition to the role of classical variables like family background and school achievements, we examine the effect of noncognitive skills.... Comment

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