Eyeing global arena

The coming year will also see the setting up of the rest of the PM Shri schools in India.
Eyeing global arena

If 2023 saw the internationalisation of education with premier Indian institutes like IITs setting up campuses abroad and two Australian foreign universities setting up their campuses here, the coming year will pave the way for India to become the global provider of education — an ambitious aim set up by the National Education Policy (2020).

Though the push will continue to be on further providing Indian students access to world-class higher education and research opportunities not only outside but within the country too, the much-awaited event in the education sector that will shape the future of school-going children, and which will perhaps generate more controversy in 2024, will be the roll-out of the NCERT textbooks, revised on the lines of NEP, for Classes 6 to 12.

For school students, the road ahead could be a bit bumpy, just like when the maiden CUET was launched in 2021 without much preparation. The draft National Curriculum Framework (NCF) has proposed two board exams for Class 10 and 12 students and the scrapping of the arts, science, and humanities streams for higher secondary students for the academic session 2024-25. But there is no further word on this yet.

Though the draft NCF also gives the option to students to quit school after Class 10, pursue vocational education in grades 11 and 12 if they wish to, and design their course combination and freedom to choose across streams, so far there is no clarity from the ministry on how this will unfold next year. What will also create some confusion would be the sudden introduction of three languages in school years.

The coming year will also see the setting up of the rest of the PM Shri schools in India. A total of 14,500 PM Shri schools or the PM Schools for Rising India for upgradation of schools are to be set up by the Centre. This year, 6,448 schools were selected, and `630.11 crore has been released to 6,207 PM Shri schools in 27 states and UTs as the first instalment. It will also be seen whether states such as Bihar, Delhi, Kerala, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, which have not yet signed an MoU with the Centre despite many requests, will join the scheme. Punjab, after joining in, has now dropped out.

While school education will continue to hog much limelight in the coming year, just like it did this year, with controversies over the dropping of several topics and portions from NCERT textbooks, it is the higher education sector that is set to see a boom.

While the two Australian universities — Deakin University and the University of Wollongong — are all set to welcome students to their campuses from next academic year, more foreign universities have shown interest in setting up their campuses in India, especially at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City or GIFT City in Gandhinagar, Gujarat.

Moreover, as regulations on setting up and operating campuses of foreign Higher Education Institutions in India have been issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC), India will see the entry of more top-ranking global universities setting campuses here.

Speaking to this paper, UGC chairman Prof M Jagadesh Kumar said, “The regulations will provide a global dimension to higher education in India and enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at affordable cost. The regulations aim to make India an attractive global study destination.”

“While providing global exposure to Indian students, the Indian students will also be able to study internationally relevant curricula, courses, and programmes,” he added. The other goal for the UGC next year would be to work with affiliated colleges and encourage them to become autonomous; establish more deemed-to-be universities in niche areas to further the research ecosystem of universities, and implement the national curriculum framework, which aims to transform higher education.

The year also saw a growing concern over students’ death by suicide, the highest being reported from the IITs. The focus for the UGC, the Centre and states will be on redressing students’ grievances, especially from the reserved category.  Next year certainly holds a lot of promise for the Indian education system as it draws closer to its vision of achieving NEP 2020 goals rooted in Indian ethos, thus making India a global knowledge superpower.

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The New Indian Express