The National Knowledge Commission (NKC), in a report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday, said that implementation of reforms in higher education was suffering due to the “rigid territorial mindset” in the government.
NKC chairperson Sam Pitroda added that when it comes to education, there is resistance at various levels in the government to new ideas, experimentation, re-engineering, external interventions, transparency and accountability.
NKC members pointed out that no headway had been made in creating an Independent Regulatory Authority for Higher Education (IRAHE), one of their main recommendations of 2006. This regulatory authority was to replace bodies like the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education, the Medical Council of India and the Bar Council of India.
An NKC official said if structural changes were not carried out in higher education, then hiking allocation for the sector (by about 19 times in the 11th Five-Year Plan) would be of no use, and “could well result in more of the same” type of institutions. He called for coming up with collaborative models for different streams of higher education rather than working in separate compartments.
The report has a set of recommendations for medical education, legal education, management education, open and distance education and public funded research.
To improve standards of medical education, the report has recommended a national exit examination at the end of four-and-a half years of medical study, and a mandatory internship in community and district hospitals. The commission also wants the government to set up more medical colleges, especially in states where they are scarce.