Education Sector – Uniform Body for conducting Tests
On the education front in the Financial Budget 2016-17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced that a single authority would be conducting entrance tests for all higher education institutions, like Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET), National Eligibility Test (NET) etc. The Minister suggested the formation of a country-wide National Testing Agency, whose sole purpose would be to organise all national level entrance examinations. This would be taking a lot of responsibility of other Test-conducting agencies in India like AICTE, CBSE etc, which can now direct their focus on solely imparting quality education at colleges and universities accredited to those same bodies. The details of this scheme have not yet been completely disclosed, with much light to be shed on the list of examinations would be included under the aegis of this newly constituted National Testing Agency. Apart from that, it is still yet unclear if State level examinations would also be under the umbrella of this new Agency. Also, the constitution of this Agency which would be catering to varieties of curricula and examinations has not yet been declared.
Budget 2017: Much needed reforms in the UGC for the education sector
Jaitley also announced a new scheme that will oversee undertaking reforms in the University Grants Commission (UGC), most notably and importantly, in the matter of granting autonomy to colleges and institutions. The Union Government would also be introducing a system of annual learning outcome in schools, apart from setting up an innovation fund for secondary education. This move has been directed at pumping in more funds and resources at the grassroots level in the sector of public school education. This has been one of the first few steps that the Government has promised to take to make State-funded public education more qualitatively attractive yet financially viable option for different economic sections of the Indian society.
Additional Reforms: Emphasis on narrowing CBSE’s focus
Last year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had written to the University Grants Commission a plea to conduct the National Eligibility Test (NET) on its own volition and resources, so that the CBSE could concentrate more on its primary areas of responsibility which includes but is not limited to improving the quality of education at the primary and secondary level. The CBSE had in fact conveyed to the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry that conducting entrance examinations for different government bodies should not be included in its ambit as it takes its core focus away from its primary statutory objective of developing junior, secondary and higher secondary education levels in the country while also acting as a massive burden on its share of financial resources.