The year 2017 saw many highs and lows as far as Academics is concerned. Discrepancies in CBSE Class 10th and 12th Board exam results and fake recruitment of teachers under Ujjwal scheme dominated the headlines. As the year draws to a close, we look back at some of the noteworthy events and decisions.
CBSE exam result discrepancies
The State witnessed protests by parents, students and teachers alike following declaration of Class 12 board exam results as the CBSE withheld results of over 13,000 students. The CBSE regional office in Odisha was gheraoed demanding re-evaluation of answer sheets and submission of a memorandum to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and CBSE chairman. Later, the CM sought intervention of Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar. Marks of several students were increased after re-evaluation but it raised questions over the credibility of the Board. Similar discrepancies were seen in the results of the CBSE Class 10 results.
OJEE over JEE
On November 23, CBSE came out with a notification for Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main 2018 but the Odisha Private Engineering College Association (OPECA) urged the Odisha government to refrain from participating till the proposed ‘One Country One Examination’ concept is implemented. OPECA members also sought the intervention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and requested the government to conduct Odisha Joint Entrance Examination (OJEE) keeping in view the large scale seat vacancies in private colleges in the State. OPECA claimed that as JEE (Main) is based on the CBSE pattern, students pursuing higher education under the Council of Higher Secondary Education (CHSE) pattern are facing problems to qualify.
No Engg degrees through correspondence mode
In a landmark verdict in November, the Supreme Court banned educational institutions from providing courses in subjects like engineering through distance education mode. The apex court also set aside a verdict by the Orissa High Court which allowed technical education by correspondence mode. The SC mentioned that the students, who were admitted after the academic sessions 2001-2005, degrees in engineering awarded by deemed to be universities through distance education mode stand recalled and be treated as cancelled. It also restrained deemed universities from offering correspondence courses without getting prior approval from AICTE.
Two new medical colleges
After a gap of almost 55 years, Odisha got two new government medical colleges in Koraput and Baripada. Academic sessions at Pandit Raghunath Murmu Medical College and Hospital (PRMMCH) in Mayurbhanj district and Saheed Laxman Nayak Medical College and Hospital (SLNMCH) in Koraput began in 2017. There are two new medical colleges in the pipeline in Bolangir and Balasore, where classes are expected to start from next academic year.
Merger of UP schools with high schools
In a bid to streamline academic disciplines and extracurricular events in schools, the School and Mass Education Department decided to merge 1,603 upper primary (UP) schools in the State with their nearest high schools. After the merger, these high schools will be known as nodal high schools. The move came after the School and Mass Education Department observed lack of coordination between UP and high schools in events, prayer classes, mass drill and other academic activities in the schools. As per the decision, the managing committees of both the schools will function separately till end of their tenure. The new system came into force from September 1.
Separation of Plus II from colleges
Almost 28 years ago, in 1989, it was first proposed to remove Plus-II courses from Higher Education Department and bring it under the purview of School & Mass Education Department. However, it was in May 2017 that the Odisha government implemented the move. A Directorate of Higher Secondary Education was set up to supervise the Plus II education in the State while an additional secretary rank officer was bestowed with the responsibility to lead the directorate.
Kasam mobile education App
With an aim to improve the education infrastructure and strengthen monitoring, Odisha government launched ‘Kasam Mobile Education App.’ The app was aimed at reforming the educational sector, especially in Kandhamal district. However, teachers’ association in the district protested the app and launched cease-work agitation citing that the move was a disrespect to teachers because around 80 percent of the district is yet to see data connectivity.
‘Sudakhya’ scheme for girl students
Odisha government approved the ‘Sudakhya’ scheme to encourage girl students to join technical education. The girls who have cleared class X examination, are eligible to get admission into the technical institutes such as ITI under the scheme. The students, who have passed class VIII exam, can also be enrolled into certain courses. Besides, they will be provided training under the programme. The government has set a target to enroll 5,000 girls in as many as 48 government ITIs in the State by the end of 2017-18. The scheme also aims at increasing enrolment of girl students by 30 percent in the ITIs.
CM Naveen’s Children’s Day Bonanza
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made a slew of announcements to improve the State’s schooling system on the occasion of Children’s Day this year. Naveen announced a corpus fund of Rs 100 crore which will provide double the amount of what any school gets from alumni contribution towards development of alma mater. Moreover, Odia language scholarship for 10 students from each block scoring highest marks in Odia was announced along with a Merit Scholarship for 40,000 meritorious students every year and cash award of Rs 5,000 each for excelling in Class X board examinations for 100 students from each block. Besides, the state government decided to felicitate parents and teachers of highest scoring Class X students every year.
Bill to regulate private Coaching Centres
Odisha government, in August 2017, decided to introduce a bill to regulate private coaching centres. With the introduction of Odisha Coaching Institutes (Control & Regulation), Act 2017, coaching centres will be mandated to register with respective district collectors’ office with a registration fee of Rs 5,000 within one month. The validity of registration will be three years. Besides, the private institutions will have to submit details such as strength, academic qualification and experience of teachers, quality of education and curriculum. If any coaching centre is found flouting the guidelines, a penalty of Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh will be imposed and the registration may also get scrapped, under the new bill.
Action against Govt Teachers Running Private Tuitions
In a move to tackle unethical practices in education, in April 2017, the then school and mass education department directed all the district education officers to take stern action against government school teachers involved in teaching at private tutorials and coaching centres. The decision of the government came after a series of allegations of high school teachers being engaged in running private tuitions and coaxing students to take coaching from them, came to the fore.
Fake Recruitment of Teachers under Ujjwal Scheme
In July 2017, a big fraud hit the State where the signature of the joint secretary of School and Mass Education department was allegedly forged by Diligence Learning Focus Society (DLFS) Trust for appointment of teachers in a few schools. It was alleged that DLFS forged a letter and sent to all district education officers (DEOs) for appointment of teachers. Later, the School and Mass Education Department ordered for a Crime Branch probe into the ‘fake recruitment’ of teachers under ‘UJJWAL’ yojana of Odisha Government. It was also alleged that DLFS duped several candidates demanding up to Rs 50,000 from each for jobs.
MoU with Singapore’s ITE Education Services
Odisha government, on November 2, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore-based ITE Education Services for a period of five years. As part of the collaboration, 100 teachers from the state government-run Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) will visit Singapore for a two-week training on leadership development in 2018. The MoU was signed between Skill Development and Technical Education Department secretary Sanjay Kumar Singh and Singapore ITEES CEO Bruce Poh in presence of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.