The government has formulated and implemented various plans to reduce the loss of students’ education in the recent lockdown period. Norms have been relaxed to allow more institutes to offer open and distance learning courses to make up for loss due to the lockdown period. Detailed information on Govt’s strategic and visionary efforts towards the upliftment of modern-day education was presented by the Union Minister of Education, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
Proactive Measures by Government to Reduce Loss of Students’ Education in lockdown Period
The University Grants Commission (UGC) has notified the revised UGC (Open and Distance Learning Programmes and Online Programmes) Regulations, 2020 for inclusion of more universities in September, 2020 by bringing down the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) score and universities ranking norms under National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF). These details are available on University Grants Commission (UGC)’s website at www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/221580.pdf.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has notified comprehensive guidelines in March 2021 in order to relax the norms for making ODL & On-line education more accessible by technical institutions for courses such as management and allied areas, computer applications, artificial intelligence and data science in the engineering & technology domain.
Forty-two new universities (On-line mode) and fifty-one institutions (ODL and Online mode) respectively were allowed to offer various programmes. Further, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) also opened 583 new study centres in various states from October 2020 to June 2021 to provide better facilities to the students
A comprehensive initiative called PM eVIDYA has been initiated which unifies all efforts related to digital/online/on-air education to enable multi-mode access to education. The initiative includes:
- Digital Infrastructure for Knowledge Sharing (DIKSHA) the nation’s digital infrastructure for providing quality e-content for school education in states/UTs and QR coded Energized Textbooks for all grades (one nation, one digital platform)
- One earmarked Swayam Prabha TV channel per class from 1 to 12 (one class, one channel)
- Extensive use of Radio, Community Radio and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Podcast- Shiksha Vani
- Special e-content, for visually and hearing impaired, developed on Digitally Accessible Information System (DAISY) and in sign language on National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) website/ YouTube
Various digital initiatives are being undertaken by the Ministry of Education viz. Study Webs of Active–Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM), SWAYAM Prabha, National Digital Library (NDL), Virtual Lab, e-Yantra, Free Open-Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), etc. to ensure quality education to the students. Quality Online courses are provided through SWAYAM which is an indigenously developed MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) platform.
The initiatives taken by the Government for school education are available in the public domain. The link of the same is https://www.education.gov.in/sites/upload_files/mhrd/files/DOSEL_COMPILATION_ON_COVID_ACTIVITIES.pdf
Samagra Shiksha Scheme: An Integrated Program for School Education Focusing Rural India
The Government of India launched Samagra Shiksha-an Integrated Scheme for school education, w.e.f. 2018-19, as an overarching programme for the school education sector extending from pre-school to class XII, aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels of school education, across the country including the rural areas. The scheme provides support to States and UTs for strengthening of infrastructure in schools, universal access, bringing gender equality, promoting inclusive education, quality of education, financial support for teachers’ salary, digital initiatives, entitlements under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 including uniforms and textbooks, pre-school education, vocational education, sports and physical education, setting up and running of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya and strengthening of teacher education institutions. Also, Mid-Day-Meal is provided to students at the elementary level of education.
Further, under the National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme scholarship is awarded to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at the secondary stage.
Steps Taken by Government for digital training of teachers
The Department of School Education and Literacy has launched an initiative to improve learning outcomes at the Elementary level through an Integrated face-to-face Teacher Training Programme called NISHTHA – National Initiative for School Heads’ and Teachers’ Holistic Advancement under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Samagra Shiksha in August 2019.
Due to COVID-19 challenges and in order to provide continuous professional development opportunities to the teachers at the elementary level, this Department has launched NISHTHA online using DIKSHA platform in October 2020. Around 24 lakh teachers have completed NISHTHA online training at the elementary level till June, 2021.
These important updates were provided by the Union Minister of Education, Mr Dharmendra Pradhan as a written reply at Rajya Sabha while highlighting Government’s efforts to streamline and bring efficiency in the country’s education system.