Education Current Affairs - 2020

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Timothy Gonsalves committee recommends reservation for girl students in IITs

The sub-committee under chairmanship of professor Timothy Gonsalves has recommended reservation for girl students in IITs to address the issue of slump in number of female students entering the prestigious institutes.

The recommendation of the committee will be taken up in the meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) for a final decision, which will decide whether the reservation will come in effect from 2017 or from 2018.

Key Facts
  • The committee has suggested creating up to 20% supernumerary seats for girls out of the total number of seats. But only candidates who have already qualified in JEE-Advanced will be considered.
  • The reservation for girl students will not affect the number of seats for male candidates. It will help IITs achieve the one lakh target by 2020.
  • In 2016, there was a 2% dip in the number of girls who cleared the JEE-Advanced, as compared to the previous one.
  • Over 1,000 girls had cracked the examination (roughly 10% of total 10,000 seats) in 2015, only 840 female students (coming up to 8%) made it to institutes in 2016-17. None of the selected girls made it to top 100.

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NITI Aayog calls for review RTE Act

The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has called for a review of the provisions of the Right To Education (RTE) Act that stipulate children who do not perform well cannot be held back up to 8th Class.

The RTE Act aims to provide primary education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. It stipulates that no child can be held back in a grade, regardless of his performance, all the way up to the 8th grade.  This means that a child is entitled to an 8th grade diploma even if he cannot recognise a single letter or a number if he has spent eight years in school.

Key Observations
  • The government think tank pointed out that the purpose behind this provision in the Act was to minimise drop-out rate as demoralisation from failing a class may result children to withdraw from school altogether.
  • However, despite good intention, the provision has a detrimental effect on learning outcomes, since it takes away the pressure to learn and to compete. So the NITI Aayog called revision of the RTE Act.
  • The real problem is the quality of education as measurement by student achievements. The education quality trend between 2010 and 2014 has been worsening instead of improving performance.

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 report, the proportion of children aged 6-14 years enrolled in school in rural areas has been above 96% for the past six years but more than 50% of the 5th graders cannot read second standard level text.

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