Model for quality and inclusive education

The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) ranking 2023, adopted by the Ministry of Education to rank institutions of higher education in India has been released recently. According to the NIRF rankings, 22 universities from Tamil Nadu find a place among top 100 positions. So, let us look at a few learning from the State. About the NIRF Ranking:
  • Parameters defined: The NIRF employs a ranking metric comprising five parameters with varying weightage to assess the quality of colleges:
  • Teaching, Learning and Resources (40%),
  • Graduation Outcome (25%),
  • Research and Professional Practices (15%),
  • Outreach and Inclusivity (10%) and
  • Perception (10%).
  • Each of these parameters has several components, which again have varying weightage.
  • Participants: The number of colleges participating in the NIRF ranking was 2,746 in 2023.
  • State-wise performance:
    • Of the top 100 NIRF-ranked colleges in 2023, Tamil Nadu has the largest share (35).
    • Delhi (32) comes next, followed by Kerala (14) and West Bengal (8). These four States collectively contribute to 89% of the top colleges.
    • Bigger States such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Odisha do not have a single college in the top 100.
  • Three Distinct Additions of 2023 Edition of India Rankings:
    • Introduction of a new subject namely Agriculture & Allied Sectors
    • Expansion of scope of “Architecture” to “Architecture and Planning” to include institutions imparting courses in Urban and Town Planning.
    • Integration of the “Innovation” ranking previously executed by the Atal Ranking of Institutions on Innovation Achievements (ARIIA) into the India Rankings to reduce the burden on institutions of providing similar data to two different agencies.
Learning from Top ranking states:
  • Larger coverage of colleges: More than one-third of the top-ranked colleges are dispersed across different places; they not only cater largely to the rural and under-served areas, but also provide an opportunity for quality education for students from poor and disadvantaged social groups who do not have the economic resources and social networks to study in colleges.
  • Reservation Policy: Tamil Nadu not only has one of the highest reservation quotas, but also has been quite effective in its implementation of the reservation policy.
Need for Quality education in India:
  • There is a severe learning crisis in India. Time and again this has been emphasized by several national and international level studies.
  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), stated that 50% of Class V students were unable to even read the text meant for students three levels below.
  • Without immediate remedial assistance, these children cannot effectively progress in the education system. These future citizens will be low on skill level requirements of Industry 4.0.
  • In the longer run, this will act as roadblock in the path of demographic dividend’s realization.
Challenges at higher education level:
  • Indian universities have become moribund institutions run by cloistered, change-resistant bureaucracies where curricula are not updated for years.
  • Students are not exposed to cutting edge research and ideas – CSIR has research avenues but these are cut off from University linkages.
  • Political interference in selections, appointments and day-to-day administrative of universities.
  • Mistaken belief that homogenization of institutions will produce greater pedagogic creativity. This leaves no room for competition among higher education institutions.
Way forward:
  • The Centre must ensure that the policy does not face litigation, state resistance, and operational challenges on the ground.
  • Transforming the education system is a value-driven and emotional process, which needs to be implemented strategically through a behavioural change process.
  • The best way could be following similar strategies as that of the Swachh Bharat Mission — the largest behaviour change programme and transplanting it to the education sector.
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