Decks cleared for IIIT
Tripura will soon host an Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) with the Centre having reportedly approved it. “Though a formal letter hasn’t been received by the state government as yet, we understand the Union human resource development (HRD) ministry has issued a notification clearing the proposal for establishing an IIIT in Tripura,” Kishore Ambuly, secretary of higher education, informed media personnel in Agartala on July 13.
According to Ambuly, Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal had reacted favourably to the IIIT proposal during a recent visit to Tripura. The state government has already identified a 50-acre site at Bodhjungnagar, 12 km from Agartala, for the proposed IIIT to be established on the public-private partnership model, he said. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd, ONGC Tripura Power Company Ltd, North Eastern Electric Power Corporation Ltd and six private sector corporates based in West Bengal have agreed to invest the Rs.128 crore budgeted for const-ructing the proposed institute.
Bar Council protests HER Bill
After a successful nationwide two-day strike (July11-12), the Bar Council of India (BCI) has reiterated its resolve to intensify protest against the Higher Education and Research (HER) Bill, 2011. “We achieved a grand success by calling a two-day strike exhibiting our strength and serious objection to the Bill. After seeing our strength and unity, we hope our demands to withdraw this Bill will be met. If not we will intensify our protest,” said BCI chairman Manan Kumar Mishra at a press conference in Ahmed-abad on July 13. BCI is against inclusion of legal education in the HER Bill, 2011.
If the HRD ministry doesn’t meet its demand, “thousands of lawyers from across the country will sit in dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on the open-ing day of the monsoon session of Parliament,” warned Mishra, adding that “from there we will march to Parliament and demand withdrawal of the Bill”.
Introduced in the Rajya Sabha last year, the Bill proposes to establish a national commission which will regulate university education, including legal, vocational, technical, medical and professional education.
Shiksha sathi project for tribal children
To retain tribal students in primary schools, shiksha sathis (‘friends of education’) will be appointed in schools in the interiors of Odisha’s Kandhamal region — a stronghold of the state’s insurgent Maoist insurrection — district collector Rajesh Prabhakar Patil informed the media in Behrampur on July 18.
The district administration has initially shortlisted 186 schools, mostly in the Baliguda and Phulbani blocks, where shiksha sathis will be appointed. Besides teaching classes I-II, the shiksha sathis will be interpreters between students and teachers of the schools, says Patil.
Youth educated upto middle school (class VIII) and fluent in tribal Kue and Odia languages would be appointed shiksha sathis by school development management committees for a period of ten months per year with a monthly honorarium of Rs.1,000. The expenses of the initiative will be met from funds allocated for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Integrated Tribal Develo-pment Agency (ITDA) programmes, said a senior government officer.
“The shiksha sathi will track tribal students and mobilise them, their parents and motivate children to attend school,” coordinator of the district primary education project (DPEP) Atulya Champatray said, adding that “the process of their selection and appointment will be completed soon”.
BMC to rope in private educators
To upgrade the quality of primary-secondary education dispensed in its schools, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) has resolved to appoint private educators, consultants and teachers.
“We will appoint private educators with proven expertise to improve teaching-learning standards in BMC schools. Teachers in our schools will be given special training by private experts,” chairman of the education standing committee Rahul Shewale informed newsmen in Mumbai on July 26. He said the civic body will retain its teaching staff. “Only management will be handed over to private players to take charge of laboratories, libraries and computer labs to impart better training to students,” he added.
Shewale clarified that the corporation intends to appoint private organisations to improve standards of BMC schools and not transfer schools to them completely. “BMC will retain control over municipal schools,” he reiterated.
Private tuitions boom
Private tutorials are expanding at an alarming rate in Asia with some households spending staggering perc-entages of their incomes on it, says an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study. Private supplementary tutorials, also termed ‘shadow education’ because it mimics the mainstream system, has negative as well as positive dimensions, it says. South Asian countries — India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — have long traditions of private tutoring driven partly by social competition and partly by teachers who regard students as captive markets, the study adds.
A 2008 survey in India had estimated the size of the coaching industry at US $6.4 billion (Rs.35,840 crore) and predicted an annual growth rate of 15 percent per year. After tracking 30,000 children in rural government primaries in five Indian states, it found 16 percent of class II children and 18 percent of class IV children receive private tuition.
Popular perceptions of the inadeq-uacies of mainstream schooling, smaller families and increased wealth are among other factors driving tutorials. “In most parts of Asia, family size is decreasing... children with fewer siblings receive more tutoring than children with more siblings,” observe the authors of the report.
However in most countries of the region, private tutoring has been ignored by policy makers. The study warns that private education can no longer be ignored because it has grown signifi-cantly throughout the region and shows signs of further growth.