The Centres’ move to form a panel to regulate autonomous accrediting bodies for academic institutions has met with rumblings. The move, academicians feel will harm autonomy.
The ministry of human resource development (MHRD) plans to move a bill to form the National Monitoring and Coordinating Board for Accreditation’ (NMCBA), which will monitor the functioning of autonomous wings like National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), National Council for Teachers Education (NCTE), National Board of Accreditation (NBA), the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The MHRD has sent the draft bill to all apex bodies for their comments. The bill according to many officials of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) will mean its death sentence. “We want the Centre to have a re-look,” said Professor VS Prasad, director of NAAC. If this bill is passed, all accreditation agencies will have to take recognition from the NMCBA. The board will be given the authority of monitoring assessment and accreditation of all higher education institutes. It will also control the purse strings of all agencies.
The proposed bill, according to many educationists, is an attempt by the Centre to curb the powers of all autonomous higher education assessment agencies. “How can the Centre forget that education is still under the concurrent list and the ground reality in every state is different? At a time when we need decentralisation, the Centre is trying to gain complete control over higher education,” said an official of the AICTE.
Many do not like the composition of NMCBA and feels that the Centre wants complete control over accrediting agencies. “The very existence of this board will be in conflict with that of the accreditation agencies. The composition of the board suggests complete bureaucratisation,” said a member of the UGC. However the chairman of UGC, Sukhadeo Thorat, feels it is still too early to comment. “I have just received a copy of the bill. After I go through it, we will send our comments to the MHRD," he said.
The MHRD however has made it clear that the bill is not aimed at curbing powers from any organisation. "While going for higher education, students should know how a particular department of an institution ranks. Stand-alone accreditation bodies have their drawbacks and they cannot come out with such reports. This is where a central board can come into play," said a high placed official of Higher Education Department of MHRD. “We want the academia to have a look at the draft bill and give us suggestions," he added.