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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

NCERT to get institute of national importance status

According to HRD officials, consultations have been held with the law and other ministries and once the Prime Minister’s Office gives it the nod, the legislation can be brought before the cabinet for approval.

india Updated: Sep 01, 2019 23:56 IST
Amandeep Shukla
Amandeep Shukla
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
In a move that’s expected to boost research in the method and practice of teaching, especially at the school level,  the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry plans to enact a legislation that would bestow “Institute of National Importance” status on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
In a move that’s expected to boost research in the method and practice of teaching, especially at the school level, the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry plans to enact a legislation that would bestow “Institute of National Importance” status on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).(PTI Photo)
         

In a move that’s expected to boost research in the method and practice of teaching, especially at the school level, the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry plans to enact a legislation that would bestow “Institute of National Importance” status on the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

According to HRD officials, consultations have been held with the law and other ministries and once the Prime Minister’s Office gives it the nod, the legislation can be brought before the cabinet for approval.

The NCERT, set up in 1961, is unique institution which, apart from publishing widely used school textbooks. has been at the forefront of educational reforms ranging from creating the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) in 1975, 1988, 2000 and 2005 to developing inputs for the National Policy of Education (NPE) in 1968 and again to he education policy currently being framed by the Centre.

In addition, it also runs Regional Institutes of Education (RIE) in four states which are engaged in research on how school teaching can be made more effective.

Yet, its efforts have been blunted by a critical shortcoming -- it is registered as a society and so can neither grant degrees nor can many of its highly specialised units like the National Institute of Education and Central Institute of Education Technology start courses of their choice for teachers.

“It is a highly ironical situation. While the NCERT has been advising the Centre and the states in policymaking and its research and suggestions are often the drivers behind key changes, the NCERT’s own institutions do not have the power even to grant degrees. NCERT’s RIEs function under different varsities,” a senior government official said on condition of anonymity.

Consequently, the HRD ministry began working on a bill that would grant the status of an Institute of National Importance (INI) status to NCERT.

“The research, development and training activities of the NCERT would be boosted with the INI status. It will allow it to set new trends in school education, hold exams and award its own degrees, diplomas and certificates. Its units will be able to conduct M Phil and PhD courses. The conferring of the status will enable it to emerge as a model of excellence that can serve the needs of the states as well as the entire country,” the official said.

However, it is a demand for which the prestigious organisation has waited for nearly a decade.

A committee formed by the HRD ministry under Prof. Govardhan Mehta in 2010 had recommended that the NCERT be given the INI status in recognition of its contribution to the field of education and also the critical area of work it is engaged in.

“The situation is somewhat similar to that of the IIIMs {Indian Institutes of Management} till some years back. They were the leading colleges providing management education. Yet, they could not even confer a degree on their students who were among the brightest in the field. However, the IIM Act changed that,” a second HRD ministry official said.

After years of things being in the standstill mode, the HRD ministry has started work in earnest towards effecting change in the NCERT.

“The HRD ministry has prepared a draft INI Bill and consultations with Law and other ministries have already taken place. The PMO has also been engaged in the exercise and once the ministry gets the green light from it, the bill can be brought to the Cabinet for its approval,” the second official said.

The official said that during the discussions, the idea of converting NCERT from a society to a deemed university had also emerged. The consensus was that given NCERT’s importance to the national educational framework and the critical area of elementary teaching that it is engaged in, the INI status would be more suitable, the second official said.

Former University Grants Commission member, Professor Inder Mohan Kapahy said, “I agree with the proposal to award NCERT the INI status...However, care must be taken this doesn’t reduce to become a routine university trouting out degrees.”

INI status has been conferred so far on institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, National Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Design.

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