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Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education.
Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education.

‘Going online will stem corruption’

Merging AICTE with other education bodies is merely a redistribution of work among the agencies involved here, says Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, All India Council for Technical Education

MUMBAI : The covid-19 crisis has disrupted the education sector like never before, not merely restricted to cancellation of exams or moving classes online, but at a much larger scale. However, the pandemic could serve as an opportunity to take processes online, which in turn, could stem corruption, said Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), in an interview for Mint’s Pivot and Perish series. Edited excerpts:

How has AICTE pivoted during the pandemic?

A lot has changed now. Earlier, we had the standard process of visiting institutes in person and conducting a thorough inspection ranging from verifying the land, to combing the library and laboratory to playgrounds, etc. But after the pandemic, we decided to use technology tools and conduct the inspections. Now, we are virtually present at different locations of an institute.

When our experts ask for a particular facility to be verified, the institutes would show those to us on video calls. Interestingly, GPS coordinates of every location is also shown with latitude and longitude, so we are sure that the location being shown to us is the right one.

We also record the entire session for further reviews. This way, it is more foolproof than ever before.

Also, in our new role of being a facilitator, we had started many schemes. But we did not stop them when the pandemic set in.

For instance, we continued our faculty development programme. In fact, the number of people we could train in just four months through the online mode is more than what we could train in a whole year. That is more efficient with less effort and at a lower cost. I think when there is a challenge, you can take this as an opportunity and change it to your advantage.

But how much of these changes will AICTE retain after the covid crisis is over?

I think the changes are here to stay. For one, travel time of our executives can be saved. Second, with all processes online, there is no room for corrupt practices to take root. However, some of the courses which do need our physical presence, especially at a higher level of training, we would be conducting those in person in post-covid times. For instance, in processes where you are required to use some of the equipment for training faculty, or programmes in training for values, ethics, honesty, etc., which need to be impregnated among the faculty, online training may not be adequate. So, physical training has to be conducted wherever necessary. Besides, all said and done, we have a social life and coming together is a requirement.

The New Education Policy 2020 could eclipse AICTE. Do you see the changes you are bringing in bearing fruit?

In my opinion, merging AICTE with other education bodies is merely a redistribution of work among the agencies involved here.

For instance, as far as regulation is concerned, there were multiple regulatory bodies to regulate a certain programme, and this multiplicity did not help in any manner.

If you look at a certain programme, say pharmacy, you will see that not only is the AICTE regulating it, but also the Pharmacy Council of India. Similarly, deemed universities are not only regulated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the ministry of human resource development, but also by the AICTE if they run a technical education programme. So, an institution running these programmes will have three different regulators to attend to. And imagine, if they pass the test of one regulator and fail another’s, what a nightmare that would be. Therefore, a single regulator has a great meaning to streamlining processes.

However, I think of all the regulators, it is a fact that AICTE has a more robust mechanism in place. For instance, we have an annual approval process, which no other institution has. We are very rigid in checking the process annually to ensure there are no loopholes.

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