Rajnish Jain, Secretary, University Grants Commission, in an interview with Pritha Roy Choudhury says that the Commission will soon fund research that is relevant to the individual and society…
Q. We have multiple regulatory bodies like the UGC, AICTC, MCI etc. Do you think that it’s high time we adopted a single regulator?
A. This is a question which needs to be discussed and deliberated on a wider platform but, so far as I understand, each regulatory body has been given a different mandate. For example, UGC is an apex regulatory body which particularly looks after higher education of universities and colleges. So, all these bodies have a very specific role assigned to them and I think they are doing fairly good job and if their merging is required I think that is a different kind of issue which needs to be addressed by a different body.
Q. What is your assessment of research in India?
A. It’s a very important question as we see research in India is growing. Now we are looking at a kind of research which is beneficial for the society and the nation. Therefore, now our focus is shifting. For e.g., ICSSR has launched a scheme called IMPRESS (Impactful Policy Research in Social Science). UGC is very soon going to launch a scheme called ‘Stride’ where the focus will be on research and the funding for those kinds of areas or projects which are locally relevant or need-based and socially relevant or nationally important or globally important because research must contribute to the life of individual, society or nation. We are taking many steps forward in that direction.
Q. Are we successful in reaching out to the masses when it comes to higher education?
A. If we look at our reach, our GER is close to 25.8 percent and we expect it to go 30 percent by 2020 the way we are reaching out to the people, and we even go to the remotest place of the country. At the same time as you are aware, technology is being made available even in the remotest place with the kind of digital revolution that is taking place in the country. So with the help of online education, with the help of distance learning education, with the help of Massive Open Online Courses, all those who are desirous of getting some education will be able to access that.
Q. What is your take on pedagogy?
A. The pedagogy or any other kind of teaching-learning systems needs to change with changing times, with the kind of technology or changing mindset that the youngsters have, it needs to change. We are also evolving, we are also changing. There is a very specific initiative taken up by UGC called Learning Outcome-based Curriculum Framework. This framework is a major shift from teacher-centric learning to student-centric learning. So, it will be more of activity-based, more of student involvement and engagement based. The focus will be on exponential learning rather than course book or textbook-centric learning. It will involve some kind of a blended pedagogy and we are preparing for undergraduate and postgraduate courses. They will be made available as model curriculum framework which focusses exclusively on learning component so that students can very conveniently say that this is what I learned out of this particular course rather than mugging up certain concepts or theories. These are all in the process.
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