Union Budget 2017: Jaitley seeks to revamp education system, plans a national testing agency

In his budget speech, finance minister Arun Jaitley says a national testing agency would help CBSE, AICTE and other premier education bodies focus more on academics


The national testing agency, an autonomous testing organization, would conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. Photo: Mint
The national testing agency, an autonomous testing organization, would conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Asserting that quality of education will energise the youth, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday unleashed measures to revamp the country’s education system, including setting up of a national testing agency to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions.

Unveiling the budgetary proposals for 2017-18 in the Parliament, Jaitley said the government proposes to establish a national testing agency as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct all entrance examinations for higher education institutions.

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This would free the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and other premier institutions from these administrative responsibilities so that they can focus more on academics, Jaitley said.

“We have proposed to introduce a system of measuring annual learning outcomes in our schools. Emphasis will be given on science education and flexibility in curriculum to promote creativity through local, innovative content,” the finance minister said.

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The government also proposes to create an innovative fund for secondary education for ensuring universal access, gender parity and quality improvement. Delivering his budget speech, the finance minister said this will include information and communication technology (ICT) enabled learning, transformation, and the focus will be on 3,479 educationally backward blocks.

The finance minister said that the government proposes to leverage information technology and launch Swayam platform with at least 350 online courses, which will enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty, access high quality reading resources, participate in discussion forums, take tests and earn academic grades.

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Access to Swayam would be widened by linkage with DTH channels, dedicated to education, Jaitley added.

“In higher education, the government will undertake reforms in the University Grants Commission (UGC). Good quality institutions would be enabled to have greater administrative and academic autonomy,” Jaitley said.

In his budget speech, the finance minister said that the colleges will be identified based on accreditation and ranking, and will be given autonomous status.

A revised framework will be put in place for outcome-based accreditation and credit-based programmes.

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