Published On: Sun, Nov 13th, 2011

Pitroda for early passage of higher education Bills

EduShine Academic Search

Sam Pitroda

It seems like none of Prime Minister’s advisers are happy with state of education in the country. Sam Pitroda, Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations adviser has expressed his unhappiness with the delay in implementation of higher education reforms at the FICCI Higher Education Summit.  A few days back economic adviser Raghuram Rajan had slammed govt. for its inadequate efforts in education.

Pitroda, who was a speaker at the summit said,“I am personally not happy with what has happened to the higher education recommendations. We have been waiting for government to act. We have talked enough about what needs to be done for higher education. We can’t spend another decade talking about higher education. We have bills drafted relating to foreign universities, innovation universities, and overarching bodies. But none of these bills have been tabled or passed. That is a big challenge.”

About 12 bills including Foreign Education Providers’ Bill; Unfair Practices Bill; Tribunal Bill and the Accreditation Bill are supposed to be passed in the coming winter session of the Parliament. While the National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) Bill 2010 and Innovation University Bill will be introduced which were to be introduced in the monsoon session of the Parliament.

Sam Pitroda was earlier the chairman of National Knowledge Commission (NKC) set up in 2005 to look at knowledge institutions and infrastructure required in the 21st century in the country. Immediately after NKC’s recommendations, another committee was set up under Professor Yash Pal, but none of the recommendations by either committees have been implemented so far.

Professor Yash Pal had earlier expressed his displeasure about non-implementation of his report on ‘Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education’ that he gave to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in June 2009.

“Higher education is very critical in our journey going forward. If we are to grow at 8-10 per cent, higher education has to play an important role. While we are debating higher education for the last five years, the time now is to focus on action,” Pitroda said.

The delay in implementation of the reforms is a serious impediment for the economic development of the country, Pitroda said, adding that things are changing rapidly. “The web, social network are essentially changing the very fabric of learning. Learning models are very different. Our customers are the kids, who are used to doing things very differently. We will have to keep that in mind.”

As part of its reforms in higher education, the government is creating a $5-billion National Knowledge Network (NKN) which is expected to be ready in about nine months. The network would be a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network backbone for all knowledge related institutions in the country. It would facilitate the building of quality institutions with requisite research facilities and creating a pool of highly trained professionals. The NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.

“The NKN would be a platform for delivering effective distance education where teachers and students can interact in real time. This is especially significant in a country like India where access to education is limited by factors such as geography, lack of infrastructure facilities, etc. The network enables co-sharing of information such as classroom lectures, presentations and handouts among different institutions,” Pitroda said.