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rajendrayadav

Rajendra Yadav

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DIT to create eco-system for FOSS

Major initiative has been taken by the Department of Information Technology to create an eco-system for all round promotion of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS), bridging the digital divide and strengthening the Indian software industry. The National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software (NRCFOSS) has been set up at C-DAC and AU-KBC Research Centre, Chennai, to provide design, development, training and support services to the FOSS community in the country and also strengthen the global FOSS ecosystem by contributing to the open source pool (www.nrcfoss.org.in).

Home Grown Operating System

A home grown operating system, GNU/Linux based Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) with Indian language support, has been developed by NRCFOSS. BOSS desktop version 3.1 and BOSS server version 1.0 have been released for deployment. Currently the BOSS Desktop version supports 18 Indian languages Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. BOSS comes with features like multimedia support, cameras and scanners, USB devices, on-line dictionary, internet tools and support for integrating mobile internet devices etc. BOSS can be downloaded for installation from http://www.bosslinux.in. Both BOSS desktop and server versions have obtained Linux Standard Base (LSB) certification from The Linux Foundation which ensures that any LSB (Linux Standard Base) certified application will work correctly on BOSS. BOSS has implemented the security features such as Security Audit, Cryptographic Support, Object reuse functionality, User Data Protection, Identification and Authentication, Security Management etc.

Providing Technical Support

A network of BOSS Support Centres is being established across the country to provide technical support to the users. So far, 13 such centres are operational including all C-DAC centres and DIT Delhi. A National Help-Desk has also been set up to provide support to users on telephone, email and web. Data Centre has been established in CDAC, Chennai with capacity of 2 Tera Bytes and connectivity of 8 Mbps, where BOSS repository has been stored for access by users and developers. So far over 80000 BOSS DVDs have been distributed freely to users in various forums and events.

Efforts for Adoption

NRCFOSS has made extensive efforts for adoption of BOSS in the country by way of creating awareness through training/ workshops and providing handholding support resulting in BOSS proliferation in many states. For e-governance applications, BOSS has been deployed in Chattisgarh and Kerala. A MOU has been signed with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for deployment of BOSS across the country in e-governance applications developed and maintained by NIC. Punjab State Government is deploying BOSS in around 5000 schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan programme. Indian Navy has adopted BOSS for their office applications. An educational variant of BOSS named as EduBOSS targeted towards school children has been brought and is being implemented on a pilot basis in some schools in Kerala through the States IT@Schools programme.

Augmenting Availability

NRCFOSS has initiated various measures like organizing regular teacher training programs, workshops and events to augment the availability of FOSS enabled manpower which could be used by the industry. NRCFOSS has been interacting with various universities and academic institutions to assist them in designing the syllabus, developing course materials and organizing teachers training. FOSS subjects have been introduced as core paper in Anna University Coimbatore and as electives in various other universities and autonomous institutions. Other colleges/ Universities are in pipeline for introduction of FOSS electives in curriculum.

NRCFOSS Phase II project has been launched in consortium mode with C-DAC (Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi), IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and AU-KBC Research Centre, Chennai with the broad objectives of R&D on specific FOSS technologies & solutions such as operating systems, compilers, SaaS (Software as a Service), mobile applications and interoperability; FOSS tools adoption, FOSS impact analysis, e-learning tools, FOSS certification and setting up of FOSS repositories. Under the project an Open Source Walk-in e-learning Solutions laboratory with focus on standards compliance and offering certification course in open source software has been established at CDAC Hyderabad. Enhancements in GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) have been undertaken at IIT Bombay under the project. The project would help in building a robust eco-system for speedy adoption of FOSS in the country.

(PIB Features)

DIT to create eco-system for FOSS

Major initiative has been taken by the Department of Information Technology to create an eco-system for all round promotion of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS), bridging the digital divide and strengthening the Indian software industry. The National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software (NRCFOSS) has been set up at C-DAC and AU-KBC Research Centre, Chennai, to provide design, development, training and support services to the FOSS community in the country and also strengthen the global FOSS ecosystem by contributing to the open source pool (www.nrcfoss.org.in).

Home Grown Operating System

A home grown operating system, GNU/Linux based Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) with Indian language support, has been developed by NRCFOSS. BOSS desktop version 3.1 and BOSS server version 1.0 have been released for deployment. Currently the BOSS Desktop version supports 18 Indian languages Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. BOSS comes with features like multimedia support, cameras and scanners, USB devices, on-line dictionary, internet tools and support for integrating mobile internet devices etc. BOSS can be downloaded for installation from http://www.bosslinux.in. Both BOSS desktop and server versions have obtained Linux Standard Base (LSB) certification from The Linux Foundation which ensures that any LSB (Linux Standard Base) certified application will work correctly on BOSS. BOSS has implemented the security features such as Security Audit, Cryptographic Support, Object reuse functionality, User Data Protection, Identification and Authentication, Security Management etc.

Providing Technical Support

A network of BOSS Support Centres is being established across the country to provide technical support to the users. So far, 13 such centres are operational including all C-DAC centres and DIT Delhi. A National Help-Desk has also been set up to provide support to users on telephone, email and web. Data Centre has been established in CDAC, Chennai with capacity of 2 Tera Bytes and connectivity of 8 Mbps, where BOSS repository has been stored for access by users and developers. So far over 80000 BOSS DVDs have been distributed freely to users in various forums and events.

Efforts for Adoption

NRCFOSS has made extensive efforts for adoption of BOSS in the country by way of creating awareness through training/ workshops and providing handholding support resulting in BOSS proliferation in many states. For e-governance applications, BOSS has been deployed in Chattisgarh and Kerala. A MOU has been signed with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for deployment of BOSS across the country in e-governance applications developed and maintained by NIC. Punjab State Government is deploying BOSS in around 5000 schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan programme. Indian Navy has adopted BOSS for their office applications. An educational variant of BOSS named as EduBOSS targeted towards school children has been brought and is being implemented on a pilot basis in some schools in Kerala through the States IT@Schools programme.

Augmenting Availability

NRCFOSS has initiated various measures like organizing regular teacher training programs, workshops and events to augment the availability of FOSS enabled manpower which could be used by the industry. NRCFOSS has been interacting with various universities and academic institutions to assist them in designing the syllabus, developing course materials and organizing teachers training. FOSS subjects have been introduced as core paper in Anna University Coimbatore and as electives in various other universities and autonomous institutions. Other colleges/ Universities are in pipeline for introduction of FOSS electives in curriculum.

NRCFOSS Phase II project has been launched in consortium mode with C-DAC (Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi), IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and AU-KBC Research Centre, Chennai with the broad objectives of R&D on specific FOSS technologies & solutions such as operating systems, compilers, SaaS (Software as a Service), mobile applications and interoperability; FOSS tools adoption, FOSS impact analysis, e-learning tools, FOSS certification and setting up of FOSS repositories. Under the project an Open Source Walk-in e-learning Solutions laboratory with focus on standards compliance and offering certification course in open source software has been established at CDAC Hyderabad. Enhancements in GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) have been undertaken at IIT Bombay under the project. The project would help in building a robust eco-system for speedy adoption of FOSS in the country.

(PIB Features)

DIT to create eco-system for FOSS

Major initiative has been taken by the Department of Information Technology to create an eco-system for all round promotion of Free & Open Source Software (FOSS), bridging the digital divide and strengthening the Indian software industry. The National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software (NRCFOSS) has been set up at C-DAC and AU-KBC Research Centre, Chennai, to provide design, development, training and support services to the FOSS community in the country and also strengthen the global FOSS ecosystem by contributing to the open source pool (www.nrcfoss.org.in).

Home Grown Operating System

A home grown operating system, GNU/Linux based Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS) with Indian language support, has been developed by NRCFOSS. BOSS desktop version 3.1 and BOSS server version 1.0 have been released for deployment. Currently the BOSS Desktop version supports 18 Indian languages Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. BOSS comes with features like multimedia support, cameras and scanners, USB devices, on-line dictionary, internet tools and support for integrating mobile internet devices etc. BOSS can be downloaded for installation from http://www.bosslinux.in. Both BOSS desktop and server versions have obtained Linux Standard Base (LSB) certification from The Linux Foundation which ensures that any LSB (Linux Standard Base) certified application will work correctly on BOSS. BOSS has implemented the security features such as Security Audit, Cryptographic Support, Object reuse functionality, User Data Protection, Identification and Authentication, Security Management etc.

Providing Technical Support

A network of BOSS Support Centres is being established across the country to provide technical support to the users. So far, 13 such centres are operational including all C-DAC centres and DIT Delhi. A National Help-Desk has also been set up to provide support to users on telephone, email and web. Data Centre has been established in CDAC, Chennai with capacity of 2 Tera Bytes and connectivity of 8 Mbps, where BOSS repository has been stored for access by users and developers. So far over 80000 BOSS DVDs have been distributed freely to users in various forums and events.

Efforts for Adoption

NRCFOSS has made extensive efforts for adoption of BOSS in the country by way of creating awareness through training/ workshops and providing handholding support resulting in BOSS proliferation in many states. For e-governance applications, BOSS has been deployed in Chattisgarh and Kerala. A MOU has been signed with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for deployment of BOSS across the country in e-governance applications developed and maintained by NIC. Punjab State Government is deploying BOSS in around 5000 schools under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan programme. Indian Navy has adopted BOSS for their office applications. An educational variant of BOSS named as EduBOSS targeted towards school children has been brought and is being implemented on a pilot basis in some schools in Kerala through the States IT@Schools programme.

Augmenting Availability

NRCFOSS has initiated various measures like organizing regular teacher training programs, workshops and events to augment the availability of FOSS enabled manpower which could be used by the industry. NRCFOSS has been interacting with various universities and academic institutions to assist them in designing the syllabus, developing course materials and organizing teachers training. FOSS subjects have been introduced as core paper in Anna University Coimbatore and as electives in various other universities and autonomous institutions. Other colleges/ Universities are in pipeline for introduction of FOSS electives in curriculum.

NRCFOSS Phase II project has been launched in consortium mode with C-DAC (Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi), IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and AU-KBC Research Centre, Chennai with the broad objectives of R&D on specific FOSS technologies & solutions such as operating systems, compilers, SaaS (Software as a Service), mobile applications and interoperability; FOSS tools adoption, FOSS impact analysis, e-learning tools, FOSS certification and setting up of FOSS repositories. Under the project an Open Source Walk-in e-learning Solutions laboratory with focus on standards compliance and offering certification course in open source software has been established at CDAC Hyderabad. Enhancements in GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) have been undertaken at IIT Bombay under the project. The project would help in building a robust eco-system for speedy adoption of FOSS in the country.

(PIB Features)

National framework on vocational education is need of time – Kapil Sibal

by Kapil Sibal

As a nation we are now poised to take some historic steps, collectively, to empower our children and thereby, our entire nation. As the Human Resource Development Minister of the country, it is my duty and obligation to ensure that our children are placed at the centre of the ambitious education reforms programme embarked upon by my Ministry. My vision for the future is that of a wholly Child Centric Education system. We cannot afford to be the slaves of the past. We must keep ourselves in synch with the processes of change sweeping through the globe. We need to learn from the past, build on it and create opportunities for the future of our present children as well as the future of the unborn ones. We would do well to recall, the very insightful and perceptive statement made by Shri M.C. Chagla, the then Education Minister of India, in 1964, Our Constitution fathers did not intend that we set up hovels, put student there, given untrained teachers, give them bad textbooks, no playgrounds and say, we have complied with Article 45 and the primary education is expanding what they meant was that real education should be given to our children between the ages of 6 and 14.

When the Right to Education Bill was passed, there was a general euphoria that eventually, after 62 years of Independence, we have realized the goal set forth by our founding fathers in Part 4 of the Constitution. But I believe that while it is easy to pass a legislation, it is not so easy to implement it. The difficult part of the journey begins from there. Implementing this Act in its letter and spirit is going to be a challenge for all of us. When the Act was passed, there were lot of misgivings; how will it work? How will the CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) work? But it has worked! And it is working! The CBSE has made 10th exam optional, and the results of 10th Boards this year were better than the last years results.

Implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act in letter and in spirit is a task we have committed ourselves to. As per the projections, about Rs.1,50,000/- crore would be required for implementing the RTE Act for all the children between age of 6 years to 14 years. It is estimated that there will be a shortfall of Rs. 60,000/- crore. This huge challenge has to be faced by the nation collectively. Harmonising the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) with the RTE Act would be an obvious priority.

The most precious of all resources available to any country is its children and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our children get all the opportunities they need for their physical and intellectual growth. In order to ensure this, we need to look at the substance of our education system. What content needs to be delivered to the child? How do we equip our children to cope with and succeed in a knowledge intensive and innovation hungry globe? How do we reform the examination system that only tests the rote learning, forgetting altogether that semantic memory is far more crucial for intellectual growth and creative vision? How do we re-orient our text-books and transform our pedagogical methods in order to ensure that the statement made by Sri Chagla is rendered irrelevant at least now? I for one, envision an education system that harnesses the creative instincts and enables the child to interpret the world on his own so as to grow intellectually and blossom into an enlightened citizen. This is an investment that we must make now, in order to ensure that the future generation is bequeathed by us with an enriched social capital and not a depleted one.

My Ministry has initiated a slew of measures to translate this vision into reality. We have set for ourselves an ambitious reform agenda. Expansion, inclusion and excellence are the three non-negotiable principles of this reform agenda. After having committed to the children a right to free and compulsory education, HRD Ministry has taken upon itself the task of reforming the content and substance of the education imparted to children. A common core curriculum, essential for removing the disparities of syllabi (that necessitate different entrance exams catering to different boards) has already been devised by the Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) in India for science and maths subjects. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) in its meeting held on 19th June, 2010 has endorsed the proposal for implementing a core-curriculum in the subjects of science and mathematics by all higher secondary boards in the country from the academic session 2011-12. The preparation of core curriculum for commerce has also been endorsed in the same meeting.

This will provide an opportunity to children from economically weaker sections, who presently are not able to avail of coaching and get through the current system of entrance exams If you have a core curriculum, it will be easier for all the states to hold exams and evaluate academic performance through the similar, if not the same, criteria. However, the attempts to evolve core curricula should be no means be construed as a attempt to undermine the autonomy of different Boards. It is an attempt to universalize quality, just the way we have universalized the quantity, by means of the RTE Act.

Another area which has to be tackled is the fact of a student sitting for 15-20 different exams after class XII and then figuring our where he/she is going to get admission after all those exams. We must have, I think a common entrance test for all students after Class XII . This common test should serve to test general awareness and aptitude of a child. While Class XII board examinations would test the students knowledge of the subject, this test could evaluate the raw intelligence and aptitude of the student. A rationalized equalization method can be worked out to equate the raw scores obtained in Board exams. This would eliminate the need for the student to appear in exams after exams. We can think of an all India merit list based on a combined score of these two tests. Then it is merit that decides where the child would go for further studies. This merit would be a pure merit, not a merit-cum-means merit.

In an effort to reduce examination stress, the Ministry is considering merging the Central Board of Secondary Education conducted All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). The logic is simple; both sets of examinations have common subjects physics and chemistry, while those opting for medical course have to appear for an additional biology paper and the engineering stream for a mathematics paper. However, if a student wants to appear for both streams, at present he/she needs to take separate entrance tests, and has to sit for the physics and chemistry tests twice. This duplication is unnecessary and stressful. Merging the two examinations would resolve this problem. My ministry would start consultations on this proposal very soon.

No country can afford to produce just doctors, with no paramedics: just engineers, with no draughtsmen and just lawyers, with no paralegals. Vocationalization of education, a goal enunciated in the National Policy on Education (NPE), still remains elusive. It is neither integrated with mainstream education, nor properly emphasized. We are in dire need for a national framework on vocational education, so that the parameters of each vocation are identified and benchmarked. There are 220 million children in schools in this country. Even after increasing the gross enrolment ratio (GER) to 30 per cent, we still will have 160 million children who will not go for conventional or professional higher education. We need to think how to harness their genius by evolving a national policy on vocational education. I want to set up a National Institute for Assessment and Evaluation for schools which would serve as an advisory institution to help school boards seeking such help in assessment and evaluation. The advices would not be binding but would help benchmark institutes (and diplomas) with global standards. An inter-ministerial group is also contemplated, which would include representatives of State Governments also, to develop guidelines for such a National Framework.

My Ministry is also working on a curriculum framework for value education. Examinations are only a gateway to higher education whereas values last and guide a lifetime. Ethics and values play a larger role in generating social capital then mere bland knowledge transmission. Value education should be so integrated with the entire education spectrum that we not only produce talent, but also good and caring human beings with a sense of responsibility towards society and the nation. It should begin with the impressionable minds and mould them with fine imprints of ethical and moral conduct, made inviolable principles of conduct in public or private life, or follow the dictates of what Immanuel Kant called the categorical imperative.

It is my firm belief that when teachers are taken care of, students benefit the most. We are actively working on a scheme for starting insurance and housing schemes for 60 lakh teachers of the country, subject to financial approvals. The scheme would be part of my ministrys effort to improve the offering that students are given in the education system. This is part of our efforts to make the system child-centric. The insurance schemes will require financial contributions from the Centre, the States and the teachers. The group housing scheme will I imagine be administered at the central level but will not require financial contribution from the Centre or the State Governments. The health and life insurance schemes are proposed to cost far less for teachers as far as premium is concerned compared to premium for individual schemes or even schemes run at the state level.

Higher education sector too is poised for momentous reforms. My Ministry is in the process of formulating the structure for an overarching body for higher education that would be responsible for higher education policy and planning in the country. The reform agenda for higher education includes imparting complete autonomy to universities for devising courses, cross fertilization of courses, research oriented universities etc,. The proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) is intended to promote autonomy of universities by devolving powers hitherto exercised by the existing regulatory bodies, prevent fragmentation of education, promote interdisciplinary pursuit and creation of knowledge, accord a level playing field through norm-based funding for all universities Central or State, grant powers to States to participate in policy making at the national level through representation in the decision making processes of the proposed Commission. An integrated approach to the whole process of learning is what is contemplated.

I am also open to the idea of Indian universities collaborating with foreign universities or with the corporate sector. Existing in majestic isolation, without a creative exchange of ideas and shared resources, is neither going to serve education nor the industry. Corporate sector has been showing increasing interest in education as they require trained manpower. A bill to consider permitting Foreign Educational Institutions is already introduced in the Parliament. In order to prevent the unscrupulous elements from exploiting students, a Bill to prevent and prohibit malpractices has also been introduced in the Parliament. Same way, in order to take care of the education related litigation, be it between employees or employers; students of institution and the institution or the regulatory body and the institution, a Bill to set up National and State Educational Tribunals has also been introduced.

I am also shortly going to introduce a novel idea for furthering the cause of education. It involves de-materializing the academic certificates. My Ministry is formulating the proposed National Academic Depository Bill, 2010 for creating and maintaining a national electronic database of academic records and awards at no cost to Central or State Government. It mandates academic institutions universities, higher educational institutions, CBSE and States Boards of education to entrust academic awards with authorized Depository to be appointed under the legislation for secure storage, authenticated access, online verification and efficient retrieval while ensuring confidentiality, fidelity and authenticity. This proposal, once materialized, would make the existence of fake degree or absence of genuine ones (either lost or not retrievable) a relic of past.

The country today needs learning process to transcend the existing frontiers of disciplines and explore hitherto unexplored territories, in order to venture into a spirit of innovation which perches the country on to the commanding heights of a knowledge dominated, innovation intensive global arena.

(PIB Features)

National framework on vocational education is need of time – Kapil Sibal

by Kapil Sibal

As a nation we are now poised to take some historic steps, collectively, to empower our children and thereby, our entire nation. As the Human Resource Development Minister of the country, it is my duty and obligation to ensure that our children are placed at the centre of the ambitious education reforms programme embarked upon by my Ministry. My vision for the future is that of a wholly Child Centric Education system. We cannot afford to be the slaves of the past. We must keep ourselves in synch with the processes of change sweeping through the globe. We need to learn from the past, build on it and create opportunities for the future of our present children as well as the future of the unborn ones. We would do well to recall, the very insightful and perceptive statement made by Shri M.C. Chagla, the then Education Minister of India, in 1964, Our Constitution fathers did not intend that we set up hovels, put student there, given untrained teachers, give them bad textbooks, no playgrounds and say, we have complied with Article 45 and the primary education is expanding what they meant was that real education should be given to our children between the ages of 6 and 14.

When the Right to Education Bill was passed, there was a general euphoria that eventually, after 62 years of Independence, we have realized the goal set forth by our founding fathers in Part 4 of the Constitution. But I believe that while it is easy to pass a legislation, it is not so easy to implement it. The difficult part of the journey begins from there. Implementing this Act in its letter and spirit is going to be a challenge for all of us. When the Act was passed, there were lot of misgivings; how will it work? How will the CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) work? But it has worked! And it is working! The CBSE has made 10th exam optional, and the results of 10th Boards this year were better than the last years results.

Implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act in letter and in spirit is a task we have committed ourselves to. As per the projections, about Rs.1,50,000/- crore would be required for implementing the RTE Act for all the children between age of 6 years to 14 years. It is estimated that there will be a shortfall of Rs. 60,000/- crore. This huge challenge has to be faced by the nation collectively. Harmonising the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) with the RTE Act would be an obvious priority.

The most precious of all resources available to any country is its children and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our children get all the opportunities they need for their physical and intellectual growth. In order to ensure this, we need to look at the substance of our education system. What content needs to be delivered to the child? How do we equip our children to cope with and succeed in a knowledge intensive and innovation hungry globe? How do we reform the examination system that only tests the rote learning, forgetting altogether that semantic memory is far more crucial for intellectual growth and creative vision? How do we re-orient our text-books and transform our pedagogical methods in order to ensure that the statement made by Sri Chagla is rendered irrelevant at least now? I for one, envision an education system that harnesses the creative instincts and enables the child to interpret the world on his own so as to grow intellectually and blossom into an enlightened citizen. This is an investment that we must make now, in order to ensure that the future generation is bequeathed by us with an enriched social capital and not a depleted one.

My Ministry has initiated a slew of measures to translate this vision into reality. We have set for ourselves an ambitious reform agenda. Expansion, inclusion and excellence are the three non-negotiable principles of this reform agenda. After having committed to the children a right to free and compulsory education, HRD Ministry has taken upon itself the task of reforming the content and substance of the education imparted to children. A common core curriculum, essential for removing the disparities of syllabi (that necessitate different entrance exams catering to different boards) has already been devised by the Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) in India for science and maths subjects. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) in its meeting held on 19th June, 2010 has endorsed the proposal for implementing a core-curriculum in the subjects of science and mathematics by all higher secondary boards in the country from the academic session 2011-12. The preparation of core curriculum for commerce has also been endorsed in the same meeting.

This will provide an opportunity to children from economically weaker sections, who presently are not able to avail of coaching and get through the current system of entrance exams If you have a core curriculum, it will be easier for all the states to hold exams and evaluate academic performance through the similar, if not the same, criteria. However, the attempts to evolve core curricula should be no means be construed as a attempt to undermine the autonomy of different Boards. It is an attempt to universalize quality, just the way we have universalized the quantity, by means of the RTE Act.

Another area which has to be tackled is the fact of a student sitting for 15-20 different exams after class XII and then figuring our where he/she is going to get admission after all those exams. We must have, I think a common entrance test for all students after Class XII . This common test should serve to test general awareness and aptitude of a child. While Class XII board examinations would test the students knowledge of the subject, this test could evaluate the raw intelligence and aptitude of the student. A rationalized equalization method can be worked out to equate the raw scores obtained in Board exams. This would eliminate the need for the student to appear in exams after exams. We can think of an all India merit list based on a combined score of these two tests. Then it is merit that decides where the child would go for further studies. This merit would be a pure merit, not a merit-cum-means merit.

In an effort to reduce examination stress, the Ministry is considering merging the Central Board of Secondary Education conducted All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). The logic is simple; both sets of examinations have common subjects physics and chemistry, while those opting for medical course have to appear for an additional biology paper and the engineering stream for a mathematics paper. However, if a student wants to appear for both streams, at present he/she needs to take separate entrance tests, and has to sit for the physics and chemistry tests twice. This duplication is unnecessary and stressful. Merging the two examinations would resolve this problem. My ministry would start consultations on this proposal very soon.

No country can afford to produce just doctors, with no paramedics: just engineers, with no draughtsmen and just lawyers, with no paralegals. Vocationalization of education, a goal enunciated in the National Policy on Education (NPE), still remains elusive. It is neither integrated with mainstream education, nor properly emphasized. We are in dire need for a national framework on vocational education, so that the parameters of each vocation are identified and benchmarked. There are 220 million children in schools in this country. Even after increasing the gross enrolment ratio (GER) to 30 per cent, we still will have 160 million children who will not go for conventional or professional higher education. We need to think how to harness their genius by evolving a national policy on vocational education. I want to set up a National Institute for Assessment and Evaluation for schools which would serve as an advisory institution to help school boards seeking such help in assessment and evaluation. The advices would not be binding but would help benchmark institutes (and diplomas) with global standards. An inter-ministerial group is also contemplated, which would include representatives of State Governments also, to develop guidelines for such a National Framework.

My Ministry is also working on a curriculum framework for value education. Examinations are only a gateway to higher education whereas values last and guide a lifetime. Ethics and values play a larger role in generating social capital then mere bland knowledge transmission. Value education should be so integrated with the entire education spectrum that we not only produce talent, but also good and caring human beings with a sense of responsibility towards society and the nation. It should begin with the impressionable minds and mould them with fine imprints of ethical and moral conduct, made inviolable principles of conduct in public or private life, or follow the dictates of what Immanuel Kant called the categorical imperative.

It is my firm belief that when teachers are taken care of, students benefit the most. We are actively working on a scheme for starting insurance and housing schemes for 60 lakh teachers of the country, subject to financial approvals. The scheme would be part of my ministrys effort to improve the offering that students are given in the education system. This is part of our efforts to make the system child-centric. The insurance schemes will require financial contributions from the Centre, the States and the teachers. The group housing scheme will I imagine be administered at the central level but will not require financial contribution from the Centre or the State Governments. The health and life insurance schemes are proposed to cost far less for teachers as far as premium is concerned compared to premium for individual schemes or even schemes run at the state level.

Higher education sector too is poised for momentous reforms. My Ministry is in the process of formulating the structure for an overarching body for higher education that would be responsible for higher education policy and planning in the country. The reform agenda for higher education includes imparting complete autonomy to universities for devising courses, cross fertilization of courses, research oriented universities etc,. The proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) is intended to promote autonomy of universities by devolving powers hitherto exercised by the existing regulatory bodies, prevent fragmentation of education, promote interdisciplinary pursuit and creation of knowledge, accord a level playing field through norm-based funding for all universities Central or State, grant powers to States to participate in policy making at the national level through representation in the decision making processes of the proposed Commission. An integrated approach to the whole process of learning is what is contemplated.

I am also open to the idea of Indian universities collaborating with foreign universities or with the corporate sector. Existing in majestic isolation, without a creative exchange of ideas and shared resources, is neither going to serve education nor the industry. Corporate sector has been showing increasing interest in education as they require trained manpower. A bill to consider permitting Foreign Educational Institutions is already introduced in the Parliament. In order to prevent the unscrupulous elements from exploiting students, a Bill to prevent and prohibit malpractices has also been introduced in the Parliament. Same way, in order to take care of the education related litigation, be it between employees or employers; students of institution and the institution or the regulatory body and the institution, a Bill to set up National and State Educational Tribunals has also been introduced.

I am also shortly going to introduce a novel idea for furthering the cause of education. It involves de-materializing the academic certificates. My Ministry is formulating the proposed National Academic Depository Bill, 2010 for creating and maintaining a national electronic database of academic records and awards at no cost to Central or State Government. It mandates academic institutions universities, higher educational institutions, CBSE and States Boards of education to entrust academic awards with authorized Depository to be appointed under the legislation for secure storage, authenticated access, online verification and efficient retrieval while ensuring confidentiality, fidelity and authenticity. This proposal, once materialized, would make the existence of fake degree or absence of genuine ones (either lost or not retrievable) a relic of past.

The country today needs learning process to transcend the existing frontiers of disciplines and explore hitherto unexplored territories, in order to venture into a spirit of innovation which perches the country on to the commanding heights of a knowledge dominated, innovation intensive global arena.

(PIB Features)

National framework on vocational education is need of time – Kapil Sibal

by Kapil Sibal

As a nation we are now poised to take some historic steps, collectively, to empower our children and thereby, our entire nation. As the Human Resource Development Minister of the country, it is my duty and obligation to ensure that our children are placed at the centre of the ambitious education reforms programme embarked upon by my Ministry. My vision for the future is that of a wholly Child Centric Education system. We cannot afford to be the slaves of the past. We must keep ourselves in synch with the processes of change sweeping through the globe. We need to learn from the past, build on it and create opportunities for the future of our present children as well as the future of the unborn ones. We would do well to recall, the very insightful and perceptive statement made by Shri M.C. Chagla, the then Education Minister of India, in 1964, Our Constitution fathers did not intend that we set up hovels, put student there, given untrained teachers, give them bad textbooks, no playgrounds and say, we have complied with Article 45 and the primary education is expanding what they meant was that real education should be given to our children between the ages of 6 and 14.

When the Right to Education Bill was passed, there was a general euphoria that eventually, after 62 years of Independence, we have realized the goal set forth by our founding fathers in Part 4 of the Constitution. But I believe that while it is easy to pass a legislation, it is not so easy to implement it. The difficult part of the journey begins from there. Implementing this Act in its letter and spirit is going to be a challenge for all of us. When the Act was passed, there were lot of misgivings; how will it work? How will the CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) work? But it has worked! And it is working! The CBSE has made 10th exam optional, and the results of 10th Boards this year were better than the last years results.

Implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act in letter and in spirit is a task we have committed ourselves to. As per the projections, about Rs.1,50,000/- crore would be required for implementing the RTE Act for all the children between age of 6 years to 14 years. It is estimated that there will be a shortfall of Rs. 60,000/- crore. This huge challenge has to be faced by the nation collectively. Harmonising the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) with the RTE Act would be an obvious priority.

The most precious of all resources available to any country is its children and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that our children get all the opportunities they need for their physical and intellectual growth. In order to ensure this, we need to look at the substance of our education system. What content needs to be delivered to the child? How do we equip our children to cope with and succeed in a knowledge intensive and innovation hungry globe? How do we reform the examination system that only tests the rote learning, forgetting altogether that semantic memory is far more crucial for intellectual growth and creative vision? How do we re-orient our text-books and transform our pedagogical methods in order to ensure that the statement made by Sri Chagla is rendered irrelevant at least now? I for one, envision an education system that harnesses the creative instincts and enables the child to interpret the world on his own so as to grow intellectually and blossom into an enlightened citizen. This is an investment that we must make now, in order to ensure that the future generation is bequeathed by us with an enriched social capital and not a depleted one.

My Ministry has initiated a slew of measures to translate this vision into reality. We have set for ourselves an ambitious reform agenda. Expansion, inclusion and excellence are the three non-negotiable principles of this reform agenda. After having committed to the children a right to free and compulsory education, HRD Ministry has taken upon itself the task of reforming the content and substance of the education imparted to children. A common core curriculum, essential for removing the disparities of syllabi (that necessitate different entrance exams catering to different boards) has already been devised by the Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) in India for science and maths subjects. The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) in its meeting held on 19th June, 2010 has endorsed the proposal for implementing a core-curriculum in the subjects of science and mathematics by all higher secondary boards in the country from the academic session 2011-12. The preparation of core curriculum for commerce has also been endorsed in the same meeting.

This will provide an opportunity to children from economically weaker sections, who presently are not able to avail of coaching and get through the current system of entrance exams If you have a core curriculum, it will be easier for all the states to hold exams and evaluate academic performance through the similar, if not the same, criteria. However, the attempts to evolve core curricula should be no means be construed as a attempt to undermine the autonomy of different Boards. It is an attempt to universalize quality, just the way we have universalized the quantity, by means of the RTE Act.

Another area which has to be tackled is the fact of a student sitting for 15-20 different exams after class XII and then figuring our where he/she is going to get admission after all those exams. We must have, I think a common entrance test for all students after Class XII . This common test should serve to test general awareness and aptitude of a child. While Class XII board examinations would test the students knowledge of the subject, this test could evaluate the raw intelligence and aptitude of the student. A rationalized equalization method can be worked out to equate the raw scores obtained in Board exams. This would eliminate the need for the student to appear in exams after exams. We can think of an all India merit list based on a combined score of these two tests. Then it is merit that decides where the child would go for further studies. This merit would be a pure merit, not a merit-cum-means merit.

In an effort to reduce examination stress, the Ministry is considering merging the Central Board of Secondary Education conducted All India Pre-Medical Test (AIPMT) and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE). The logic is simple; both sets of examinations have common subjects physics and chemistry, while those opting for medical course have to appear for an additional biology paper and the engineering stream for a mathematics paper. However, if a student wants to appear for both streams, at present he/she needs to take separate entrance tests, and has to sit for the physics and chemistry tests twice. This duplication is unnecessary and stressful. Merging the two examinations would resolve this problem. My ministry would start consultations on this proposal very soon.

No country can afford to produce just doctors, with no paramedics: just engineers, with no draughtsmen and just lawyers, with no paralegals. Vocationalization of education, a goal enunciated in the National Policy on Education (NPE), still remains elusive. It is neither integrated with mainstream education, nor properly emphasized. We are in dire need for a national framework on vocational education, so that the parameters of each vocation are identified and benchmarked. There are 220 million children in schools in this country. Even after increasing the gross enrolment ratio (GER) to 30 per cent, we still will have 160 million children who will not go for conventional or professional higher education. We need to think how to harness their genius by evolving a national policy on vocational education. I want to set up a National Institute for Assessment and Evaluation for schools which would serve as an advisory institution to help school boards seeking such help in assessment and evaluation. The advices would not be binding but would help benchmark institutes (and diplomas) with global standards. An inter-ministerial group is also contemplated, which would include representatives of State Governments also, to develop guidelines for such a National Framework.

My Ministry is also working on a curriculum framework for value education. Examinations are only a gateway to higher education whereas values last and guide a lifetime. Ethics and values play a larger role in generating social capital then mere bland knowledge transmission. Value education should be so integrated with the entire education spectrum that we not only produce talent, but also good and caring human beings with a sense of responsibility towards society and the nation. It should begin with the impressionable minds and mould them with fine imprints of ethical and moral conduct, made inviolable principles of conduct in public or private life, or follow the dictates of what Immanuel Kant called the categorical imperative.

It is my firm belief that when teachers are taken care of, students benefit the most. We are actively working on a scheme for starting insurance and housing schemes for 60 lakh teachers of the country, subject to financial approvals. The scheme would be part of my ministrys effort to improve the offering that students are given in the education system. This is part of our efforts to make the system child-centric. The insurance schemes will require financial contributions from the Centre, the States and the teachers. The group housing scheme will I imagine be administered at the central level but will not require financial contribution from the Centre or the State Governments. The health and life insurance schemes are proposed to cost far less for teachers as far as premium is concerned compared to premium for individual schemes or even schemes run at the state level.

Higher education sector too is poised for momentous reforms. My Ministry is in the process of formulating the structure for an overarching body for higher education that would be responsible for higher education policy and planning in the country. The reform agenda for higher education includes imparting complete autonomy to universities for devising courses, cross fertilization of courses, research oriented universities etc,. The proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) is intended to promote autonomy of universities by devolving powers hitherto exercised by the existing regulatory bodies, prevent fragmentation of education, promote interdisciplinary pursuit and creation of knowledge, accord a level playing field through norm-based funding for all universities Central or State, grant powers to States to participate in policy making at the national level through representation in the decision making processes of the proposed Commission. An integrated approach to the whole process of learning is what is contemplated.

I am also open to the idea of Indian universities collaborating with foreign universities or with the corporate sector. Existing in majestic isolation, without a creative exchange of ideas and shared resources, is neither going to serve education nor the industry. Corporate sector has been showing increasing interest in education as they require trained manpower. A bill to consider permitting Foreign Educational Institutions is already introduced in the Parliament. In order to prevent the unscrupulous elements from exploiting students, a Bill to prevent and prohibit malpractices has also been introduced in the Parliament. Same way, in order to take care of the education related litigation, be it between employees or employers; students of institution and the institution or the regulatory body and the institution, a Bill to set up National and State Educational Tribunals has also been introduced.

I am also shortly going to introduce a novel idea for furthering the cause of education. It involves de-materializing the academic certificates. My Ministry is formulating the proposed National Academic Depository Bill, 2010 for creating and maintaining a national electronic database of academic records and awards at no cost to Central or State Government. It mandates academic institutions universities, higher educational institutions, CBSE and States Boards of education to entrust academic awards with authorized Depository to be appointed under the legislation for secure storage, authenticated access, online verification and efficient retrieval while ensuring confidentiality, fidelity and authenticity. This proposal, once materialized, would make the existence of fake degree or absence of genuine ones (either lost or not retrievable) a relic of past.

The country today needs learning process to transcend the existing frontiers of disciplines and explore hitherto unexplored territories, in order to venture into a spirit of innovation which perches the country on to the commanding heights of a knowledge dominated, innovation intensive global arena.

(PIB Features)

National Film Awards revamped

National Film Awards re-structuring is going to happen. The entire scheme of National Film Awards is going to be revamped and the selections for National Film Awards for 2009 will be implemented under this new system. These changes have been done after the recommendations by an Expert Committee headed by eminent filmmaker Shri Shyam Benegal for up-gradation of the National Film Awards.

The re-vamped National Film Awards will have 2-tier selection system in which 5 Regional Panels has been constituted for pre selection of films. The five reginal panels are:

(a) North- English, Punjabi, Dogri, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani and Central Indian Languages

(b) West- Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati & Konkani

(c ) South I- Tamil and Malayalam

South II – Kannada, Telugu and Tulu

(d) East- Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and dialects spoken in Northeast

Each Regional Panel will have a Chairperson and one member and 3 other members from with the region. The screenings of the Regional panel as well as the Central jury would be held in Delhi. The Central jury would comprise Chairperson plus 10 Members, of whom 5 would be the Chairpersons of the 5 regional juries

Some new Award Categories are also announced: Audiography, Music Direction, Best screenplay and Dialogues

The cash prize for several award in both feature films and non-feature films categories have been increased. The sitting Fee of Jury Members have been hiked from Rs.1000/- per day to Rs.2500/- per day.

(press release)

National Film Awards revamped

National Film Awards re-structuring is going to happen. The entire scheme of National Film Awards is going to be revamped and the selections for National Film Awards for 2009 will be implemented under this new system. These changes have been done after the recommendations by an Expert Committee headed by eminent filmmaker Shri Shyam Benegal for up-gradation of the National Film Awards.

The re-vamped National Film Awards will have 2-tier selection system in which 5 Regional Panels has been constituted for pre selection of films. The five reginal panels are:

(a) North- English, Punjabi, Dogri, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani and Central Indian Languages

(b) West- Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati & Konkani

(c ) South I- Tamil and Malayalam

South II – Kannada, Telugu and Tulu

(d) East- Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and dialects spoken in Northeast

Each Regional Panel will have a Chairperson and one member and 3 other members from with the region. The screenings of the Regional panel as well as the Central jury would be held in Delhi. The Central jury would comprise Chairperson plus 10 Members, of whom 5 would be the Chairpersons of the 5 regional juries

Some new Award Categories are also announced: Audiography, Music Direction, Best screenplay and Dialogues

The cash prize for several award in both feature films and non-feature films categories have been increased. The sitting Fee of Jury Members have been hiked from Rs.1000/- per day to Rs.2500/- per day.

(press release)

National Film Awards revamped

National Film Awards re-structuring is going to happen. The enitire scheme of National Film Awards is going to be revamped and the selections for National Film Awards for 2009 will be implemented under this new system. These changes have been done after the recommendations by an Expert Committee headed by eminent filmmaker Shri Shyam Benegal for up-gradation of the National Film Awards.

The re-vamped National Film Awards will have 2-tier selection system in which 5 Regional Panels has been constituted for pre selection of films. The five reginal panels are:

(a) North- English, Punjabi, Dogri, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Rajasthani and Central Indian Languages

(b) West- Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati & Konkani

(c ) South I- Tamil and Malayalam

South II – Kannada, Telugu and Tulu

(d) East- Bengali, Assamese, Oriya and dialects spoken in Northeast

Each Regional Panel will have a Chairperson and one member and 3 other members from with the region. The screenings of the Regional panel as well as the Central jury would be held in Delhi. The Central jury would comprise Chairperson plus 10 Members, of whom 5 would be the Chairpersons of the 5 regional juries

Some new Award Categories are also announced: Audiography, Music Direction, Best screenplay and Dialogues

The cash prize for several award in both feature films and non-feature films categories have been increased. The sitting Fee of Jury Members have been hiked from Rs.1000/- per day to Rs.2500/- per day.

(press release)

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