In a very surprising move in Union Budget 2017, Union Finance Minister came up with an announcement that the government is setting up an agency known as National Testing Agency. This new agency will be created to perform autonomously. Jaitley said that the NTA will be self-sustaining and will be burdened with the responsibility of conducting entrance exams that students need to pass in order to get admitted in high education institutes.
CBSE and AICTE to get free
Until now, the responsibility of conducting such entrance exams in India was put upon AICTE or All India Council for Technical Education and CBSE or Central Board of Secondary Education. AICTE and CBSE have been historically responsible for holding entrance examinations like CMAT, JEE, NEET, NET etc.Once the National Testing Agency goes live, the CBSE as well as the AICTE will be relieved of their administrative burden of conducting such tests. This will allow them to concentrate their full focus on core objective – the academics.
A Borrowed Idea
It is a brilliant proposal. This is true that once CBSE and AICTE are relieved for the burden of holding entrance examinations, they will focus on core competencies. So, National Testing Agency actually makes sense. However, this idea has been borrowed from our close international ally – the USA. USA has what is known as ETS or Education Testing Service, which has pretty much the same role as is proposed for National Testing Agency or NTA.
Additional Announcement Related to Education
Apart from the announcement about setting up National Testing Agency, the Union Finance Minister, Mr. Arun Jaitley also stated that the government is planning on setting up what is known as ‘innovative fund’. The whole purpose of this fund will be to improve education quality, bring gender parity and create universal access to education – all these targeted for secondary education.
Jaitley said that the fund will include learning which is ICT-enabled and the focus will be primarily on 3,479 blocks which are currently backward in terms of providing education. Apart from that, SWAYAM Platform launch has also been proposed. It is a technology-dependent platform which will offer a minimum of 350 online courses. This will allow students go get access to best lectures on various courses by best-in-class faculty. SWAYAM will allow students to:
- Access educational resources of high quality.
- Access discussion forums where they can discuss with their peers.
- Take various tests.
- Earn academic grades.
Jaitley stated that through DTH channels’ linkage (those DTH channels which are focused on education), the penetration of the SWAYAM Platform can be increased significantly.
Talking of higher education, Jaitley stated that UGC will receive certain reforms, which will ensure that institutions of repute and high quality will be given more academic and administrative autonomy. According to Jaitley, ranking and accreditation-based selection procedure will be applied for selecting colleges which can be granted autonomous status by government. Government will also use a revised framework for programs that are based on credit as well as accreditations, which are based on outcome
More details to come soon