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EducationWorld November 09 | EducationWorld

Kerala

Higher secondary exam papers controversy

Amid controversy over higher secondary mid-term question papers being set by pro-Left academic councils of teachers’ unions, the Kerala govern-ment has proscribed this arrangement. Addressing media personnel on October 28, state education minister M.A. Baby said henceforth the directorate of higher secondary education will prepare question papers for all higher secondary examinations.

Recently, a Plus Two English language exam paper asked students to write a letter to the editor of a Malayalam daily protesting “undue coverage” given by media to the death of Mercy Ravi, wife of Congress leader and Union minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi. In another case, the pro-Left Kerala State Teachers Association withdrew a political science question paper containing controversial questions including “What was the hidden agenda of Narasimha Rao government in the Ayodhya issue?” and “What lessons have been learnt from the Emergency?”

It’s hitherto been standard practice in Kerala to outsource question papers for mid-term exams to academic wings of teachers unions.

Andhra Pradesh

Forced English row

The andhra pradesh government has ordered an enquiry into press reports of a private (unnamed) English medium school punishing two students for conversing in Telugu, the official language of the state. According to press reports, two class III students of the school in Maidukur were forced to hang placards around their necks proclaiming “I will never speak in Telugu”.

Education minister D. Manikya Vara Prasad said the government has taken a serious view of the matter and ordered an inquiry. “A notice has been served on the school management. The government will cancel recognition of the school if the management is found guilty during the probe,” he said in a statement issued in Hyderabad on October 27. “Telugu is our mother tongue and the incident is an affront. If the mistake was of some teachers, the government will ask the school’s management to sack them,” he added.

Spokespersons of the school say the management has tendered an apology to the parents of the children. 

Sikkim

Primary school dropouts spat

Reacting to a Union human resource development ministry report, which indicates that Sikkim has the country’s second highest primary school dropout rate (85 percent) after Bihar, an opposition Congress spokesperson said that it reflects “very poorly” on the state’s commitment to promote education and encourage retention of students in primary school.

“It’s egg on the face of the Pawan Kumar Chamling government,” Sikkim Congress general secretary Kunga Nima Lepcha said at a press conference in Gangtok on October 27. Demanding a white paper on the subject, Lepcha said the report contradicts claims made by the Chamling government that it has transformed the education sector to develop Sikkim into a hub of trained and skilled manpower, for which purpose it has been receiving incremental Central grants under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme.

Rajasthan

Court issues caste quota notices

The rajasthan high court issued notices (dated October 26) to the Centre and state government to explain the utility of continuing with quota reservations in educational institutions, legislatures and employment, for scheduled castes (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs) and other minorities. The notices were issued in response to a petition challenging the 109th Constitutional Amendment extending the reservations directive contained in Article 334 of the Constitution by another ten years from January 25, 2010.

A division bench of JJ R.C. Gandhi and G.S. Saraf issued notices to the Central and the state governments to show cause why continuation of reservation in parliamentary and legislative seats for the SC, ST, and Anglo-Indian communities is in the national interest. Social activist Amarnath Vaish and another petitioner contended that 60 years was more than sufficient to ensure adequate represent-ation of these communities in the Lok Sabha and state legislatures. The petitioners have also challenged quotas for the backward classes and women in public employment.

Madhya Pradesh

Admissions drought in professional colleges

At least 30,000 seats are likely to remain vacant in colleges of professional education offering BE, MCA, MBA and pharmacy study programmes in Madhya Pradesh, during the academic year 2009-10. State education department sources indicate that despite lower admission criteria for students who wrote and/or did not write entrance tests for professional courses, an estimated 30 percent of capacity in professional colleges is likely to remain vacant after the completion of counseling.

Broad indications are that 20,000 engineering, 2,000 MBA, 3,000 MCA, 4,000 B.Pharm and 1,000 D.Pharm seats are likely to remain unfilled, which may inflict a business loss of over Rs.500 crore upon professional and engineer-ing colleges in the state over the next four years. “Some new private engineering colleges established during the past three years, may have to close as it will be difficult to run them in view of thin admissions,” a state education department spokesperson told the media in Bhopal on October 25.

Himachal Pradesh

Red carpet for private universities

The state government has granted permission to 15 private universities to establish campuses or learning centres in Himachal Pradesh. Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal announced this on October 24 at the silver jubilee function of a leading school. “This initiative will make world class educational facilities available to people of the state,” he said adding preference will be given to corporate groups with experience in the education sector.

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