“I have immense pleasure in welcoming you all to the 60th Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE). Let me also introduce my colleague in the Ministry and Vice Chairperson of the Committee Dr. Shashi Tharoor. I also take this opportunity to thank my predecessor Chairman Kapil Sibal ji and also Vice Chairpersons E. Ahamed and Dr. D. Purandeswari. I thank the Hon’ble Ministers and distinguished members of CABE for coming to the meeting at such a short notice.
As you are aware, the meeting was earlier scheduled on 1st November, which had to be postponed due to unavoidable reasons. I thought that prolonged postponement of CABE may not be proper and have therefore called this meeting before the winter session of Parliament.
In a country as diverse and as large as ours, the task of developing national policies while at the same time respecting and incorporating regional aspirations and an inclusive agenda of growth is indeed really challenging. It is in this context that I have always emphasized on a participatory approach in which all of us, be it Central Government of State Governments, academics, autonomous institutions, private sector and all other stakeholders, work together towards a common goal which is empowering the children and youth of India through education and knowledge.
As all of us are aware, CABE is the highest advisory body to advise Central Government and State Governments in the field of Education. I would like to continue the tradition of having regular meetings of CABE which has served as a forum of wide ranging consultations and has helped in developing consensus on various issues within all the sub-sectors of education ranging from elementary, adult, secondary, higher, technical, vocational and open and distance education. I would also like to mention that Planning Commission in its Approach Paper to the XII Five Year Plan has recognised Education as the single most important instrument for social and economic transformation. The Approach Paper mentions that a well educated population, adequately equipped with knowledge and skill is not only essential to support economic growth, but is also a precondition for growth to be inclusive since it is the educated and skilled person who can stand to benefit most from the employment opportunities which growth will provide. Thus, collectively we have to decide policies and programmes for realizing India’s human resource potential to its fullest in the education sector, with equity and excellence.
I am also glad to inform that the Committees which we were formed during the 58th Meeting of CABE have submitted their reports which are before us for consideration. The Report of the CABE Committee on curbing unfair practices in school education sector along with draft legislation is before us today. The proposed legislation defines the various practices in the school education sector which will be treated as ‘unfair’ including charging excessive fee, lack of transparency in conducting the admission test for the standard XI, recruiting teachers without qualification, giving teachers and other administrative staff lesser salary than shown in the school records, recruiting teachers with low salary, exploitation of teachers through various means, not admitting special children, and discrimination of students, especially those belonging to SC/ST/OBC and weaker sections of society. The draft provides for mechanism of redress of complaints while prescribing the quantum of punishments for acts that violate the provisions of the proposed legislation.
Another CABE Committee on University Reforms has also submitted its report which emphasizes on the launch of a Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan which would have a special focus on incentivising state governments and state institutions.
The Committee on “Extension of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 to Pre-school Education and Secondary Education” has also submitted its status report. The major issues that were identified by the Committee for further discussion are: (1) the entry age for pre-school under the extended framework; (2) qualifications and capacity building of teachers for preschool; (3) ensuring focus on child-centered pedagogy, play-way method and holistic development as critical elements of pre-school education: and (4) need for effective coordination with ICDS. As regards extending RtE to secondary levels, assessment of existing infrastructure, (i) age of children in the secondary education (15-16 or 15-18 years) and duration of secondary education (IX-X or IX-XII). (ii) appointment of additional teachers as per new PTR norm which would be fixed if RTE is extended, (iii) consultation with all partners like state governments (on various issues like the norms of opening school, school infrastructure, teacher recruitment etc.), NCERT on curriculum and NCTE for qualification of teacher appointment, Teacher eligibility test, Teacher training institute, role and regulatory mechanism of the private sector (iv) sharing of financial responsibility between the Center and the states, are some of the key issues. As you would all appreciate, these issues need to be discussed comprehensively before we decide to extend RtE to pre-school and secondary level.
Since the coming into effect of Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, all States/UTs have notified RTE Rules and 24 States/UTs have constituted SCPCR/REPA. However, we need to take a number of measures for filling up the vacancies of teachers as also provision of infrastructure. In this context, some of the State Education Ministers have also been requesting extending the time period prescribed for implementation of the Act. We would consider the same along with review of the progress of RtE.
As regards Teachers’ Education, Justice J. S. Verma Committee has given its report which was sent to all the State Governments. We will be having a detailed presentation on the measures to be taken by Central and State Governments in this regard.
Skill Development and vocational education has been a key intervention in the education sector. In this context, we would be discussing reform measures in polytechnic sector. There are four strands of reform that have been identified in the process of consultations relating to:
- Content and curriculum reform.
- Faculty development and enrichment.
- Reforms in assessment and certification methods.
- Reforms in regulatory measures and institutional incentives.
As regards higher education, I feel the Consolidation of the Initiatives undertaken during XI Plan period, strengthening of the State Institutions, Faculty Development, Strengthening Research and Innovation in Basic Sciences and Social Sciences, Skill Building, Vocational Education and strengthening academia – industry linkages should be the critical focus areas.
Before I conclude, I would also like to mention that education should lead to building of an inclusive, just and fair society and it is in this context that I have been emphasizing on value education. Education in my view should lead to character building of our youth and also inspire them to work towards the task of nation building in addition to their work for employment or self-employment.
I would like meaningful exchange of views on all the agenda items and each one of you must contribute to making this a fruitful deliberation. I would request each one of you to express your views and pro-actively engage in the deliberations. These issues concern the future of the children and youth of our country and we should work together to improve access to education with equity and quality. With these words, I wish the proceedings all success and eagerly look forward to having a very engaging discussion.’’