“ a compromise formula which includes a proposal to take top 20% students based on percentile ranking of respective boards for preparing the merit list”

How meaningless is this solution ?. Higher education in India will become the domain of the school toppers and Children of affluent parents and we wonder why half a million students leave India to study undergraduate courses overseas. Children who will never return to a country that shunned them.

Is this is what we call inclusive in RTE ?.

God Save India

Inclusive education does not mean that everyone must enter, or pass out from, an IIT. It only means that if you wanted to, you could have a shot at it. The child labourer is excluded because she can never dream of entering an IIT; she may absolutely hate IIT, but not trying to join an IIT should be her decision. Even if there is only one IIT train, every child must have access to the platform where the train comes. Of course, not everyone will get on to the train but everyone knows what to do to have a shot at the train. This is called inclusion in education. Everyone must go to school till class 12; those who work hard, and are willing to work harder still, will join an IIT. Others will, by choice, decide not to work that hard and become economists.

Shubhashis Gangopadhyay

All children are born equal and mindless politicians are trying to grade the children and youth of the nation and create a new Brahamanical Caste system in Education, which is pandering to the neo rich who can afford to send their children to elite private schools and Coaching schools.

"HRD Ministry of India wants to build castles of higher education on the bamboo scaffoldings of its schools" ~ Satish Jha

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

175 - One JEE will not improve matters - Prof Indiresan - Hindu Business Line

One JEE will not improve matters


Nowhere in the world are admissions carried out purely through a mechanical test. 

The new norms for engineering entrance exams cannot address the rich-poor, or rural-urban divide. There are better ways of dealing with these problems.

The Human Resources Development Ministry has announced its latest regulations for admissions to engineering colleges. Mr Ashok Kumar, the police officer-activist who trained 33 rural youths and managed to get 30 of them through the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), has been so incensed that he has organised a big demonstration in Patna against the decision. Some alumni may even go to court.

The new regulations have tackled reasonably well two of the three objectives. One, it gives due importance to high-school examination.
Two, it reduces the burden on the students by having one common examination for all Central Government institutions. However, it is not likely to do much for the third objective of curbing the influence of coaching institutions.

Even in the first two cases, there are issues. For instance, many years ago, the IITs admitted the top 10 from each school board directly without any entrance test.
That was a disaster; the system had to be stopped because influential persons got false certificates for their wards.

What guarantee is there that something similar will not happen in the certificate for percentile scores? However, corruption now may be less because the candidates have to take the entrance test, too.

A single test is a good idea, but it has its own problems. What will happen if a paper is leaked in some obscure corner of the country? Will or should the tests in thousands of centres round the country be scrapped and re-held? In any case, how will the Government keep the question papers secret everywhere without fail? 

These are real issues to which the Government seems to have given little thought.
I do not think anyone will lay a claim that the influence of coaching centres will diminish. At present, coaching costs are heavier than the four-year tuition charges in the IITs. Yet, they will probably increase to coach students for the plus-two examinations, too. Hence, only the well-to-do will get that benefit. Then, will not the rich-poor divide increase? Mr Kumar is worried that the new programme will impose a heavier burden on rural children. As it is, rural schools are poorly off; they are worse than the schools in the cities and far worse off than the good ones. Frankly, the Government has not thought of the rural-urban divide at all. Our present-day politicians are enamoured of quotas. Who knows, we will have a new quota for rural schools, too.

Deficient filter

The biggest question of all is whether the new system will identify and admit students of the best calibre. It probably will not. As matters stand, admission to the IITs is a gamble — a chance of one in a hundred or so. In comparison, great universities such as Harvard and Stanford get only 10 applications for each student admitted. So long as the application-admission ratio remains as high as it is in India, no programme will be truly rational.
Further, nowhere in the world are admissions made purely through a mechanical test. For instance, SAT scores are used as a guide by American universities; they do not determine admissions entirely. Our country is so obsessed with objectivity that it forgets that we produced better scientists and engineers before Independence, too, when there were no entrance tests at all and teachers took who they liked. Unfortunately, the present government has no such faith.

Why we lag

Nobody has asked the crucial question: why have MIT, Stanford, Oxford and all the great universities of the West done better, and are still doing better than our own institutions and do so in spite of admitting less-qualified rich students? The basic reason: those universities have the autonomy to admit whoever they like, including children of the very rich; our institutions have no autonomy and are shackled by the State.

Years ago, the IITs were concerned about the varying standards of high-school boards; they were worried by political interference. That is how they devised the JEE. Unfortunately, they forgot they were giving up a precious privilege — the autonomy to select their own students. Even now, according to the statutes, only the individual IITs can decide on admission policy — not the government. The Minister, being an able lawyer, may be able to get round, if, for instance, as is possible, IIT Kanpur refuses to accept his rules. But let us remember that the IIT statutes are good; that is why they have performed better than the universities have.

Two solutions

What is the ideal that will ensure the autonomy of not only the IITs but also of all other institutions, and at the same time minimise rural-urban and rich-poor divides? I suggest that each district gets a quota — for shortlisting the applicants — that depends on its population; the districts will conduct independent tests to fulfil their quota. That way the rural-urban divide will be minimised.

Alternatively, each IIT may shortlist four or five times the number of students it is entitled to admit after they pass class 10 and provide the selected students scholarships to study in the best schools for the next two years. That way, the influence of coaching centres too will diminish, reducing further the rich-poor divide.

Only through interviews will the teachers know whether the applicant is a ‘muggo,' or whether he understands the subject. Undoubtedly, the faculty will be under enormous pressure from politically powerful persons to admit their nominees. That may be resolved in one of the two ways: IITs admit some of them, the way Western universities do, but on payment of very high fees, or stick to their guns.

I think the first proposition is better. If a rich or influential person's ward can be admitted to Harvard, no disaster will ensue if they are admitted to an IIT.
(The author is a former Director, IIT Madras. blfeedback@thehindu.co.in and indiresan@gmail.com)
This is 330th in the Vision 2020 series. The last article appeared on May 19.