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National Agency for Testing on the anvil

National Agency for Testing on the anvil
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BH Ramakrishna A crucial meeting of CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education), the highest policy making body on Education in the country,...

BH Ramakrishna iit1A crucial meeting of CABE (Central Advisory Board of Education), the highest policy making body on Education in the country, meeting-the 61st one- will be held on Tuesday in New Delhi with a lot many changes likely to take a formal shape. Prominent among them being the setting up of National Agency for Testing (NAT) which will be the centralised national body to conduct all national-level professional entrance tests like JEE-Mains, JEE-Advanced, GATE, CAT, CMAT, NEET etc. It is not clear whether the Civil Services Examination, which has been taking care of UPSC till now will also be added or not. According to sources, a committee of experts would be constituted to study the proposals and discuss it across the country. Based on the recommendations of the committee, a decision would be taken which is only in the 62nd or 63rd meeting of the CABE. Once set-up, NAT will be first of its kind in India with administrative and financial autonomy, self-reliant and self-sustained premier testing organization, which will conduct tests and assessments for admissions, scholarships, etc. It will be governed by a Governing Council. According to MHRD, the proposed would play a pivotal role in promoting merit and quality education at college and university level. A group of academicians, researchers and independent experts having knowledge of the assessment and testing field, without involving teachers, will man the body. "Quality is the latest buzz word and to make India qualitatively the best in the world, there must be special emphasis on it. The NAT will follow a zero tolerance policy in maintaining standards i.e. in conducting tests and assessments which means facilitating standardized selection and authentic measurement of candidate's knowledge and skill" MM Pallamraju, Union HRD Minister told The Hans India recently on the sidelines of golden jubilee celebrations of Kasturba Gandhi women's polytechnic in Hyderabad. A special purpose vehicle may be floated for bringing NAT into being. NAT has been a long pending issue. It was first proposed by POA (Programme of Action) of 1992 which was put in place to implement National Educational Policy 1986. The National Knowledge Commission (2006-09) has also in its report to the nation has also suggested on the same lines of setting of national testing service. The 61st CABE meeting will also delve deep into the proposal to set up National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF) which will, according to MHRD, provide "a standardised framework in terms of minimum entry qualification, programme durations, teaching-learning processes and learning outcome aimed at national, and ultimately the universal, acceptability, recognition and equivalence of not only the degrees but also the qualifications. NHEQF will also provide the broad framework within which individual universities and other degree-awarding higher educational institution could design and develop the curricula, syllabi and modules that they consider relevant and appropriate without any interference of external agencies and thus enjoy their academic autonomy to the fullest extent in a responsible manner and without adversely affecting the horizontal and vertical mobility of students". The CABE meeting is likely to endorse formation a committee of experts which may form sub-committees to elicit views from all the academia across the country. Education through ICT would be discussed threadbare in the meeting which is likely to endorse measures to purchase and distribute Akash-2 tablets on a massive scale. Each Akash-2 costs Rs 2200/ and Bombay IIT has added more features to it. The Prime Minister has announced on August 15, 2011 that a National Education Commission will be set up for making far-reaching changes in education sector. Several round table meetings have taken place subsequently and a proposal is to be put before CABE today. The proposed Commission is to envision the new paradigms in education and to restate the objectives and goals- which were initially laid in the policy of 1986. It would also recommend strategies, policies, structural changes to draw upon the demographic advantage through education and skill development. The Right to Education Act, even after three years, is not being fully implemented in all states and the CABE meeting is expected to take stock of the situation. A majority of states complain of shortage of funds and institutional bottlenecks come in the way of implementation.
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