Government to come out out with new courses to improve the employability of university graduates: Prakash Javadekar

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar tells  Sumi Sukanya Dutta that the government will be coming out with new courses every year to improve the employability of university

Published: 20th January 2018 11:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2018 11:23 AM   |  A+A-

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar (File | PTI)

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar tells  Sumi Sukanya Dutta that the government will be coming out with new courses every year to improve the employability of university graduates

Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar gives his ministry a distinction in improving the quality of education from the school to university level. As he boasted in an exclusive interview with The Sunday Standard, “So we are performing, reforming and transforming—that’s our achievement.” Excerpts from the interview:

What are your biggest achievements as HRD minister in school education and higher education? What are the biggest challenges ahead?
I think the biggest achievement of the HRD ministry in this government is the improvement of quality in school and higher education. We have for the first time in India ensured autonomy for institutions and we are making tremendous efforts to promote real research and innovation. We are also introducing reforms. So we are performing, reforming and transforming—that’s our achievement.

You say you have achieved improvement in the quality of education. By what measures have you achieved this?
We have commissioned an extensive learning outcome survey (so we’ll soon know the impact). There used to be no accountability earlier; we wasted ten years. Many students drop out at the Class IX stage only because they have not learnt properly. So we have now decided to have an examination at the Class V and VIII stages. We have also restarted the board examination at Class X. It used to be optional in CBSE schools; now it is mandatory. It has been welcomed by all. And we are training untrained teachers. Some 15 lakh teachers have not done their diploma in education. So we are taking up that issue too.
As far as higher education is concerned, we have brought in the GIAN (Global Initiative of Academic Networks) scheme under which 700 teachers from 58 countries have been invited to teach one course each in our universities. We have also improved the quality of our rankings, both NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council) and NIRF (National Institutional Ranking Framework).

But the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) released last Tuesday does not give a very rosy picture of the quality of education imparted in rural India. A sizeable number of students could not read fluently in their own language or solve simple arithmetic problems.
I have not gone through the report’s findings, so I cannot comment on them. We have already conducted our own National Assessment Survey—the biggest in the world—to assess learning outcomes of students. Some 22 lakh students were assessed in one exam on November 13. We have already come out with the district report cards and all districts have been given the respective data. Soon, the final results will come out.

What about the quality of higher education? Governments — this one and the previous one included — talk about developing institutes of excellence but the truth remains that barring IITs and IIMs the quality of higher education is a major concern. A large number of students passing out of Indian universities are not employable.
We forget that in addition to the IITs and IIMs, we have the best Indian Institutes of Science and Education Research (IISERs). We have the best central universities. But to address the issue of employability of university passouts we are now going to introduce career counselling in schools so that students do not choose general courses but take up specific courses. Also, we are fortifying the general courses. For example, we can think of B.Com (Professional)—a new type of course in which students learn practical knowledge. We are thinking along this line and we will be coming up with new courses every year.

What has your ministry done towards autonomy of institutions of education?
As far as autonomy is concerned, we have passed the Indian Institutes of Management Bill. That’s a revolution because the government is withdrawing from the functioning of the IIMs. We trust our good institutes. They will be allowed to grow the way they want to. Secondly, we have started processing the 133 applications we received from institutes that want to be developed as institutes of world class eminence. That’s a big thing.
Next, the University Grants Commission has passed a resolution for graded autonomy which means that institutes of good quality will get full autonomy, institutes of mid-level quality will get mid-level autonomy, and institutes that are not so good will be regulated.

Many universities have become ideological battlegrounds between the student wings of political parties. The JNU is one example. What are your thoughts on universities as a seat of learning versus a theatre of politics?
For me no university is a battleground. Students basically come to study, but those who are also interested in politics should read, should study, should argue. That’s a good thing. There are no battlegrounds.

Some states have an issue with the languages in which NEET is conducted by CBSE. In how many languages will the test be conducted this year?
Last year NEET was conducted in ten languages. This year we are adding Urdu.

Switching to politics, the BJP put you in charge of Manipur and it came to power. Now you are in charge of Karnataka. What has your experience there been so far?
We are winning hands down. There is tremendous anger among the people against the Congress government there. The state has become a minefield of farmer suicides—two or three every day. There is major distress and the Siddaramaiah government is completely oblivious to the plight of farmers.
There is complete lawlessness. It’s not only the likes of Gauri Lankesh and M M Kalburgi who are being murdered, but 24 of our activists have been killed by the terror organisation PFI. But instead of acting against PFI the Siddaramaiah government has released 1,600 PFI activists and withdrawn cases against them.

They have done many other bad things. Bengaluru, once a garden city, has been converted into a garbage city. Every lake in the city is on fire. The city was known for safety of women, but now there is no safety at all: 656 cases of rape have been reported in the last five years. It’s a huge tragedy.
There is tremendous corruption everywhere. Honest officials are being persecuted and harassed—three have even died. Even women officials are being harassed.

Yogi Adityanath has been asked to campaign in Karnataka. Many people see it as the BJP’s effort to polarise voters.
No, no that’s not true. All our chief ministers go to poll-bound states to campaign. It’s the Congress whose policy it is to divide and rule. In Karnataka too they are dividing society on the basis of caste and religion. We are uniting society. Their formula is divide and rule. Our formula is unite and prosper.

Recently, the Dalit agitation in Maharashtra hit the headlines nationally. What do you think led to that?
I think much has already been said on that issue. Now let the judicial commission come out with its report and then we can discuss the matter.


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