One of the biggest questions bogging down the education sector is whether the state government will be able to implement the University Grants Commission’s (UGC) Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) in the new year or not.
Principal Nandkumar Nikam, chairman of the State Principal Forum, said, “RUSA is an ambitious project of the Centre and effective implementation of this scheme means receiving crores of rupees to promote a research culture in colleges and varsities across the state.”
But, red tape by the state government is a major hurdle in the execution of the RUSA.
“The centre will deliver funding to the state government through the State Council of Higher Education. Ironically, this important council remains non-functional,” he said.
Nikam is a member of the Council. But despite being established in 2008, not a single meeting has been conducted till date.
“As the tenure of this council is five years, it will adjourn on January 1, 2014. Now, it is the responsibility of the state government to appoint a new governing body and ensure that it functions effectively,” Nikam said.
Dr Arun Nigvekar, former chairperson of the UGC, expressed dissatisfaction that no major policy changes had taken place in primary or higher education in the last decade.
“I have not seen any major change in education in the bygone decade. But this year, there is hope that it being an election year, the first-time voter is desperate for a change. Many proposals, schemes and commission reports are pending for approval with the central and state governments. This has to be expedited.”
Under Nigvekar’s chairmanship, some three years ago, the state government had appointed a committee to change the State Public University Act. But the proposed amendments await implementation for the last two years.
“It has been two years now. All I’ve heard is that the state cabinet would be passing it soon. But nothing has happened till date,” he said.
After its failure to ensure successful implementation of 25 per cent reservation for students belonging to economically weaker section (EWS) in private schools, under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), the state government has now decided to conduct these admissions through Centralised Admission Process (CAP) from the upcoming academic year. The officials said this would ensure that all private schools fulfil their respective EWS quota.
However, private unaided minority schools will be exempted from the rule, as the Bombay High Court recently passed a ruling that minority unaided schools did not come under the ambit of the RTE Act.
While the State Education Director Mahaveer Mane declared that admissions through CAP would be held in April 2014, the government is yet to communicate details to education officials to commence the admissions process.
“We have not yet received any details from state education director or the secretary regarding the timetable of these proposed admissions,” Suman Shinde, deputy director of education (Pune), said.