New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley Wednesday proposed to establish a National Testing Agency (NTA) which will conduct all academic entrance examinations and free education bodies like Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) from administration work related to examinations.
In his budget speech, Jaitley also spoke about reforming higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) to give more autonomy to quality higher educational institutions. He also spoke about government’s renewed focus on online courses to reach a larger student base.
The finance minister also proposed establishing 100 international skill centres in 2017-18 and reiterated that the government will focus on assessment of education outcome, a key concern areas in the education sector.
He also proposed to establish an innovation fund for the secondary education segment.
Though the finance minster skipped mentioning individual allocation on key education heads in his budget speech, the NTA is a key takeaway.
In the absence of any national testing body, CBSE conducts major higher education related entrances apart from school leaving exams at Class 10 and Class 12 level for CBSE affiliated schools. It conducts the Joint Entrance Exam-main (JEE Main) for engineering schools including Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and the National Eligibility Test for UGC (UGC-NET) for selecting professors in college and university system. It also conducts the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) for appointment of teachers across several states. It is also in charge of conducting the single medical entrance test for admission to all MBBS courses.
But the question has always remained whether it has the bandwidth to be a central testing service organization and the difficulties it faces now in stretching itself beyond its means.
The NTA, once in place, can conduct all entrance examinations including the two-tier JEE, CAT, CTET, UGC -NET and NEET, among others.