Portal for implementation of National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education launched

Dr. D. Purandeswari, Minister of State for Human Resource Development launched a web portal for implementation of the (NSIGSE).

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme ‘National Scheme of Incentive to Girls for Secondary Education” was launched in May 2008 with the objective to establish an enabling environment to reduce the drop-outs and to promote the enrolment of girl child belonging mainly to SC/ST communities in secondary schools. As per the scheme, a sum of Rs. 3,000 is deposited in the name of eligible girls as fixed deposit, who are entitled to withdraw it along with interest threon reaching 18 years of age and after passing out in 10th class examination.

The scheme covers (i) all girls belonging to SC/ST communities , who pass class VIII and (ii) all girls who pass VII examination from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (irrespective of whether they belong to SC/ST) and enroll in class IX in Government, Government –aided and local Body schools. 100% funds are provided by the Central Government for the Scheme. Canara bank is the implementing agency for the scheme.

Sanctions covering 843026 girls from 26 states/UTs have so far been issued since launch of the scheme in May 2008 involving an expenditure of Rs. 252.90 crore. Approximately 105000 beneficiary girls have become eligible to receive the maturity amount and are being paid the incentive amount subject to fulfilling the conditions.

The Canara Bank has developed a web based portal to implement the scheme. The portal will facilitate on line submission of data of the beneficiaries and on line disbursement of the amount on the day of the maturity into their accounts directly after certification by the State Nodal Officer on line that the beneficiary is 18 years old and passed class X examination.

With the operationalization of the web portal, the proposals under the scheme will be submitted by the State Governments on line. This will eliminate the possibility of feeding incorrect data and bank account numbers which was the major cause for delay in the processing of the proposals and ensure error free entry of data and timely release of funds. The on-line system will also ensure total transparency and quicker disbursement of benefits to the beneficiary girls and on time submission of proposals by the State Governments.

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Government of India launches Virtual Labs Project

Government of India, as part of National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), has launched Virtual Labs.

These Virtual Labs will be very useful for Students who do not have access to good lab-facilities, and whose inquisitiveness will be triggered, possibly motivating them to take up higher-studies, Researchers in different institutes who can collaborate / share equipment and engineering colleges, who can benefit from the content and related teaching resources.

VIRTUAL LABS:
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A] is part of a comprehensive undertaking to provide easily accessible and high quality education throughout India.

B] primary focus is to provide university students with the ability to perform their required laboratory experiments using a standard computer, and an Internet connection.

C] allow students to practice and better learn the science and engineering behind the experiments that they are required to perform.

D] allows the sharing of costly equipment across the country so that students will be able to perform experiments that they would not otherwise be able to access.

Nearly 300 department heads, faculty, and staff representing 152 institutions have been trained across India and over 20 Nodal Centres have been created.

The Pilot Phase in April 2009. During this phase, approximately twenty labs were developed. The Main Phase began in April 2010. So far, over 80 Virtual Labs have been developed.

THE PROCESS
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Two types of virtual labs have been developed. In the Simulation Based Virtual Labs, experiments are modeled using mathematical equations. The simulations are carried out remotely at a high-end server, and the results are communicated to the student over the internet. Simulation based Virtual Labs are scalable and can cater to a large number of simultaneous users.

Using the Remote Triggered Virtual Labs the actual experiments are triggered remotely. The output of the experiment (being conducted remotely) is communicated back to the student over the internet. This class of Virtual Labs gives the student the output of real-time experiments. Typically, time-slots are booked before conducting such experiments.

A Collaborative Platform for Development of Virtual Labs has been created that assists the faculty with authoring and maintaining Virtual Labs. The platform hosts over 825 experiments developed by many of the partner institutions. The Platform provides the server side architecture for ensuring that virtual labs run securely, can effectively serve thousands of students simultaneously, and reserve time slots for experiments that require scheduling. The Platform also provides tools to help teachers monitor their students’ progress and make changes to the instructional material.

THE PROGRESS AND RESPONSE
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Currently 85 Virtual Labs have been developed comprising of 769 experiments. Trainings and workshops have been held all over India to disseminate knowledge of these Virtual Labs. Future efforts will involve development of virtual labs in different subjects and wide dissemination of this knowledge.

Student interest has also been enthusiastic. The site (vlab.co.in) has had 233,570 site visits and 1,034,443 page visits in just the last 6 months. There are over 4500 registered users from 134 countries and handles around 100GB of traffic per month with visitors from India, United States, Malaysia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Germany, Pakistan and so on.

With the launch of Virtual Labs Indian students will have easy access to an encyclopedia of science and engineering knowledge presented in a way that is engaging, immersive, and enjoyable. Virtual Labs will allow students to explore, discover, and learn wherever they are and at their convenience.

All Virtual Labs can be accessed through a common website: www.vlab.co.in

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UGC Standing Committee approves degree in Vocational Education

A bachelor’s degree in vocational education is likely to be introduced in the University Grants Commission in 2012.   The standing committee of UGC  has  formally approved a proposal to introduce a bachelors degree in vocational education. Once  approved by the Commission, a college student can pick up a bachelors degree in art, science , commerce or vocational education.

The All India Council of Technical Education had earlier requested  UGC to introduce vocational education at college level.  The curriculum of  the new courses will be put on the website by March 10. The student will have to choose a sector and a specific specialization from each sector. Initially 10 sectors have been chosen  including tourism, construction, printing, telecom, IT, mobile and communication.

To begin with, one college can have five sectors. Each sector can have a maximum of 100 students which means initially a college can  have 500 students for vocational education. There are plans to allow students to shift from BVoc to arts, science or commerce, thus not punishing students for signing up for the new course.

These courses will provide vocational skills and general education, thus providing vocational graduates with multiple pathways.  The USP (unique selling point) of the course is that students can leave the course any time and come back to it to pursue further studies.

Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal had recently launched the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework for implementation in polytechnics, engineering colleges and other colleges in the university systems from 2012-13.

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State Education Ministers’ Conference

A Conference of State & UT Education Ministers’ was held in New Delhi.

A] Reforms in Entrance Examination for Engineering Students
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A presentation on the reforms proposed in the entrance examinations for admission to engineering institutions was made. States felt that there is a need to limit the multiplicity of entrance examinations thereby reducing stress on students and parents. It was clarified to States that the reform would not, in any way, affect reservations followed by States and the Centre. It was informed that the academic component of the Main and Advanced examinations would be handled by IITs whereas the management and conduct of the examination would be done by CBSE in collaboration with State Boards. It was clarified that the examinations would be conducted in English and Hindi and where States intend to use the same examination for admission to State engineering institutions, the examination could be conducted in the regional language of the State too.

After detailed deliberations, the proposal for a common national examination with effect from 2013 with weightage to State Board results, normalized on the basis of percentiles formula, was endorsed “in principle” by States. The States of Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha, Puducherry and West Bengal sought more time to study the proposal in detail. The States may decide on adopting the same pattern for admission to State-level engineering institutions with appropriate weightages as States may think fit. It was decided that the details for the common examination process would be finalized in the next two months in consultation with States.

B] Vocational Education and NVEQF
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Presentations were made by the Ministry of HRD and AICTE on the National Vocational Education Qualifications Framework (NVEQF) and concept on Community Colleges. While welcoming the development of NVEQF, the State Education Ministers felt that NVEQF will be an important landmark in improving the skills and employability of the youth of this country.

The report of State Education Ministers headed by the Hon’ble Education Minister of Bihar on NVEQF was unanimously accepted. After deliberations, NVEQF and the concept on community colleges was unanimously endorsed by States. The need to have a dialogue at the State level with School Boards, Boards of Technical Education and universities to provide a seamless pathway for vocational students was stressed. It was decided to start 100 Community Colleges on a pilot basis in 2012-13 and then scale up gradually. The States were requested to identify local skill requirements linked to local needs which could form the basis of opening community colleges and forward proposals to the Central Government. It was decided to constitute a Committee of State Education Ministers headed by Smt Archana Chitnis, Hon’ble Minister of School Education of Madhya Pradesh, to finalise the scheme of community colleges.

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National Vocational Education Qualification Framework Launched by MHRD

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) has launched the National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF) to be implemented in polytechnics, Engineering Colleges and other colleges in the University systems from 2012-13.

The programmes are sector specific and the sectors like IT, Media, Entertainment, Telecommunications, Mobile Communications, Automobile, Construction, Retail, Food Processing, Tourism, Hotels, Jewellery Design and Fashion Design and many other have been identified for implementation. The launch was done by Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resource Development.

The Scheme envisages Seven certificate levels with each certificate level with approximately 1000 hours each certificate, with each 1000 hours being made of certain number of hours for vocational competency based skill modules and the rest for general learning simultaneously integrated and providing a Diploma for vocational education after the certificate level five or leading to a Degree for vocational education after level seven in the university system, subject to their statutory approval, is highlight of the scheme.

A student can choose to avail of competency based skill learning along with general education in this scheme without losing the possibility of changing course and moving at any certificate level into a formal system of education and vice versa. This would ultimately provide a full multi-entry exist system between vocational education, general education and the job market.

AICTE would seek to provide the requisite statutory approvals to any institutions wishing to conduct these programmes from the Academic Year 2012 throughout the country. The institutions can choose a maximum of 500 students per institute in any five sectors, 100 students per sector.

This is expected to cater to at least 5 million students for vocational degree and diploma every year, which can provide self-employment or being meaningfully employed if even 1/3 of the institutions are approved to conduct these programmes.

NVEQF is a great initiative by MHRD that needs to be propagated and followed throughout the country that has a potential to increase the GER from 15 to double this value by the end of 2020, simultaneously providing meaningful employment.

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