First professional ed varsity
With laying the foundation stone of the privately promoted Indira Gandhi Technological and Medical Sciences University (IGTMSU) in lower Subansiri district in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh (pop. 1.38 million) on December 28, the first step has been taken to provide professional higher education in the state. “The commitment of my government to provide higher education to the people has been fulfilled,” said chief minister Nabam Tuki speaking in Hapoli on the occasion.
Citing criticism that Arunachal was the only state without a technical and medical college, Tuki said the commissioning of IGTMSU marks the beginning of a new era which will bring Arunachal on a par with other states of the Indian Union. The university will commence offering study programmes in nano-technology, laboratory management, radiology, and physiotherapy from January next year (2014).
Under construction on 150 hectares at Gano village by the Delhi-based World Institute of Building Programme, “the university will offer technical and medical programmes,” said local member of the legislative assembly Padi Richo, who is supervising the project.
Project prayas roll out
Encouraged by the success of its education initiative Prayas, which prepares tribal students in Naxal-hit areas for admission into engineering colleges, the Chhattisgarh state govern-ment has extended the scheme to four more districts. In a directive to collectors of Sarguja, Raigarh, Korba and Bastar districts, tribal welfare minister Kedar Kashyap has asked them to launch the project in their districts at the earliest, said a government official addressing the media in Raipur on December 28.
The tribal welfare department started Prayas — a residential school-cum-coaching institute for boys — in Raipur in 2010. The department selected students from Naxal-hit districts, who had cleared the class X boards that year. Since then 249 students of the first batch have passed their class XII board examination with a substantial number performing well in public entrance exams, including PET (Pre-Engineering Test), All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) and IIT-JEE. Besides providing free education, the department funds food, uniforms and other expenses. Following the success of Prayas, hitherto restricted to Plus Two (class XI-XII) students, the state government has applied the scheme to class VIII students to be selected from schools in remote areas.
The new residential schools will be developed in the public-private partner-ship model and district collectors have been directed to coordinate with prominent companies such as NMDC, South Eastern Coalfields, Balco and Jindal Steel to implement the project.
Anglo-Indian reservations demand
Geoffery bonjour, vice chairman of the minority department of the Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee, briefed reporters in Jamshedpur on December 15 about the demands of a delegation of Anglo-Indian leaders from across the country who submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee on December 11 demanding reservation of seats for deserving students of the community in higher education.
Other demands of the delegation include establishment of an Anglo-Indian desk in the ministry of minority affairs to deal with issues concerning the community, and national cultural centres for Anglo-Indians in New Delhi and Bangalore.
Unusual punishment row
Cleaning of toilets, meted out as a punishment to primary school children in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, has attracted the notice of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). On December 23, the commission issued a summons to the commissioner-cum-secretary of schools and mass educ-ation department, ordering his personal appearance on January 11.
According to NHRC sources, the summons was issued for non-compli-ance with a fact-finding and action-taken report of the commission confirming that a group of class III students of the government-run Kolathia Project primary school had to clean toilets as punishment for talking in the classroom in November 2011.
H.R. Bansal, a Delhi-based lawyer and rights activist, had drawn the attention of NHRC to the incident describing it as “an act of infringement of child rights”. According to Bansal, the RTE Act, 2009 has prohibited children from being assigned manual work. Taking cogni-sance of Bansal’s petition, the commission had sought a compliance and action-taken report from the state. Both the school and mass education depart-ments failed to respond to the NHRC queries.
Professional training programme
To make school leavers employable, the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPBSE) has resolved to introduce professional training from class IX onwards. “This initiative is initially being restricted to 100 schools with the largest number of volunteers for vocational education,” HPBSE chairman Balram Sharma informed the media in Dharamshala on December 10.
“To begin with, we have selected security, automobile, IT and civil trades for this programme involving private companies to train students,” said Sharma.
Interest subsidy scheme
The Haryana Women Development Corporation (HWDC) has budgeted disbursement of Rs.3.90 crore to 4,595 women students under its education loan subsidy scheme during the current financial year. The scheme is being implemented to encourage women to pursue undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral research education in the country and abroad, an HWDC spokesman informed the media in Chandigarh on December 26. Under the scheme, the corporation provides 5 percent interest subsidy on loans availed from nationalised banks.
Of the total 4,595 beneficiaries, 235 have been given interest subsidies for pursuing higher education abroad.