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Union Budget 2017: Big pat for national testing agency

HYDERABAD: Finance minister Arun Jaitley’s pronouncements on the education sector in the Union Budget presented on Wednesday, have generally been welcomed but the changes must not remain on paper, educational experts say.

Former NAAC (National Accreditation and Assessment Council) director B.S. Prasad said that the Budget announcements for education sound good. But they should be put in motion. More often than not, educational reforms remain just on paper, he said, stressing that follow-up action matters.

Zafar Sareshwala, chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, said that taking up reforms in the University Grants Commission (UGC) and establishing a National Testing Agency as an autonomous and self-sustaining premier testing organisation to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions, should be appreciated. Also, government has decided to focus more on giving market relevant training to graduates, which will make them employable in the market.

Prof. Sushma Yadav, the newly-appointed UGC member from New Delhi, felt the decision to give priority for accreditation of higher educational institutions in this year’s Budget was welcome.

“Quality control and assessment of education standards and facilities is the need of the hour. All institutions from UG to PG level should be assessed on various factors. This will give students a clear idea about academic standards and facilities on offer in a particular educational institution at the time of admission,” she said.

Aakash Chaudhry, director of the New Delhi-based Aakash Educational Services, said the proposals in the budget will lead to a paradigm shift in the education sector.

“It will give an impetus to quality education and global exposure. Increase in the number of postgraduate seats for medical sciences is a welcome move and will greatly benefit students aiming at higher studies and research,” he said.

Prof. C. Vijaysekhar from the Mahindra Engineering College, Hyderabad, said, “The only way to measure the quality of education is by measuring expected outcomes and hence the focus on learning outcomes is commendable. Setting up the innovation fund for secondary education segment is also a welcome step.”

Reforms for the future
An Innovation Fund for Secondary Education to encourage local innovation to ensure universal access, gender parity and quality improvement. The focus will be on 3,479 educationally backward blocks.

A system of measuring annual learning outcomes in our schools. Emphasis will be on science education and flexibility in the curriculum to promote creativity.

A National Testing Agency will be established as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organisation to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. This would free CBSE, AICTE and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities so that they can focus more on academics.

Reforms in University Grants Commission. Good quality institutions will have greater administrative and academic autonomy. Colleges will be identified based on accreditation and ranking, and given autonomous status.


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