In the run-up to its fifth anniversary in Mumbai, Hindustan Times kicks off a five-part series on things to look forward to — changes that will affect every aspect of your life, from the way your children study to the way you commute. Today, we look at the changes in store for the education system and how students will benefit.
Safer school buses
In the last week of June, the state government approved the final policy for school buses. Once the government resolution is issued, all schools will have to sign a contract with their respective bus contractors to ensure that various safety clauses are met. This means that parents cannot deal with bus contractors independently.
The policy states that every school bus should be fitted with an emergency exit, be no older than eight years, have a female attendant if girls use the bus and have contact details and blood groups of students on the bus.
All students will be expected to use the bus to commute to school unless they walk or use another form of public transport.
The policy draws from the model school bus system that was first implemented in Cathedral and John Connon School in 2002 and later in four other schools in Mumbai.
After two accidents involving school buses last year, the government formed a committee to come up with a comprehensive safety policy. Schools will have to adopt the policy by this December.
CBSE board exams optional
For the first time, the present batch of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class 10 students will have the option of not taking the board exam in March 2011.
Last August, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal announced that the exam would be optional and students would be evaluated on a round-the-year basis through the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system.
The CCE takes into account students’ extra-curricular abilities, personality and life skills rather than marks obtained in a single year-end exam.
Students will also study popular fiction as part of the literature course, be awarded for sporting excellence and be encouraged to take up hobbies. Schools have hailed the reforms, seeing it as a means of decreasing the stress students face in the run-up to the board exam.
CBSE schools implemented the CCE last year and students, who took their Class 10 boards this year, got marksheets with grades instead of marks. Schools have not yet asked students to make the choice for next year over whether or not they will appear for the board exams. The training of teachers to keep them updated with the changes is going on.
New leadership at university
The post of vice-chancellor (VC) at the University of Mumbai has been vacant since last September when Vijay Khole retired. One of the top 10 universities in India, the 150-year-old institution has had no full-time functional head for over nine months. It has an acting VC, Chandra Krishnamurthy, who also heads SNDT women’s university. Usually, acting VCs have a tenure of six months till a full-time VC is appointed.
While the first search committee constituted to select a VC was dissolved, the second one last week viewed presentations of 20 shortlisted candidates.
This year, the state government has drawn up more stringent norms for VCs to ensure that the best in the field bring about reforms in the decaying university.
Even the search committee must comprise known heads of educational institutions.
All work at the university is on hold because of the uncertainty. Once the VC is appointed, the university can get back on track.
All the other 18 universities in the state have got VCs.
SSC syllabus/pattern revamp
Following a series of student suicides in January, Maharashtra’s School Education Minister Balasaheb Thorat announced that the state board would revamp its syllabus and exam pattern to make education less stressful. The government is considering a series of reforms, which include a new syllabus and evaluation system for Classes 1 to 8.
The State Council of Educational Research and Training is considering a proposal to do away with unit tests, while incorporating other parameters in evaluation that will judge students on a year-round basis through project work and regular assignments. Students may also be graded in a manner similar to the system the CBSE has adopted.
The final government order is expected to come out by the end of this week.
The present batch of Class 9 students will also study a new maths and science syllabus, upgraded to bring state students on par with those of central boards when appearing for competitive exams.
Credit system in colleges
Mumbai University hopes to introduce the credit and semester systems from this academic year for degree colleges in all three streams — arts, commerce and science — at the graduate and post-graduate level.
The system, similar to those in international universities, will take into account the student’s performance throughout the course and not just a final exam. Credit will be defined in terms of hours and students will have internal and external evaluation.
While there will be a written examination, teachers will also conduct continuous internal assessment in the form of surprise tests, quizzes, assignments or fieldwork. This will allow teachers flexibility and ensure that students are up to date with course work.
The University Grants Commission in 2007 directed all vice-chancellors to adopt the semester and choice-based credit system.
It has taken two years and several threats from the government to finally devise a system. However, the final nod from the varsity Management Council is pending.