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Unknown consequences haunt HPU again as Govt scraps semester system under RUSA in haste

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HP University RUSA semester system scrapped

The biggest concern is that the varsity would now be giving degrees under four different systems 

Shimla: Once again, unknown consequences haunt the students and faculty at the Himachal Pradesh University and affiliated colleges as the Education Minister Suresh Bhardwaj on June 7, 2018, announced a roll-back of semester system to restore the previous system of annual examination.

The teachers and majority of academicians are of the opinion that the varsity had almost settled with the semester system and the errors it had been making. Things were getting smoother with the passage of time. There was no need to shift from the semester system to the previous pattern, they believe.

The Minister supported this decision referring to the recommendations of the special committee the State government had formed to review the RUSA. Internal sources at the varsity and media persons suggested that the original report has warned of negative consequences of this decision. However, the Minister denied it at the conference. 

The biggest concern is that the varsity would now be giving degrees under four different systems – according to previous marks based annual examination systems, the first version of RUSA implemented in 2013, the reformed version in agreement with norms of the University Grants Commission implemented in nationwide institutes in 2016, and under newly announced annual examination system.

The Minister was blank when asked how the varsity/faculty would deal with this mess of conducting examinations under four different patterns and then evaluating them.

He said the varsity would take care of it, and they’ll see how to do it.

Now, the varsity will have to prepare new syllabus just a week ahead of the admissions for the session 2018-19 beginning from June 15.

When the Minister was asked whether the date of the admission would be extended considering the new decision, he said it would be sorted out soon.

It implies the Minister did not do any homework prior to taking this decision.

When asked about the decision, some faculty members of the HPU and experienced educationists Himachal Watcher talked to believed there was no need to do so, and it was done in a haste once again. 

Majority of the faculty and administration of HPU said the decision is more politically motivated than being in the interests of the students.

Further, the strongest reason that could be attributed to this decision was the mounting pressure from the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad and the opposition as the Bhartiya Janta Party had made a promise to do so in its vision document released for the elections to the HP Legislative Assembly in 2017. 

The Minister was heard repeating that it was a poll-promise of the BJP so the government had to fulfil it. However, he seems to be indifferent to the complexities of again shifting to an older version.

An experienced faculty member unofficially said the Minister or the Committee seems to have ignored the fact that situation was different at the time of its implementation in HP University and colleges affiliated to it back in 2013. 

It was the mess created by faulty and haphazard implementation in Himachal in 2013 due to which RUSA had faced fierce protests from students and faculty. The teachers were over-burdened and had a little knowledge regarding the way a Choice Based Credit System works.

The results were late and full of errors as the faculty struggled to understand and assess grades under the new system. In 2016, 90 percent students were declared fail after the result was out. The varsity had to re-do it after the protests. The results were late during first two years and students even faced problem in enrolling at varsities in other states.

Himachal Watcher had also criticized the poor implementation and the inconvenience the students and faculty were facing due to it. However, RUSA system is not faulty in itself. It has the capacity to create higher education institutes at par with the international institutes if implemented wisely and in a transparent manner. 

The State had implemented it haphazardly. The varsity did not possess sufficient infrastructure, facilities, and faculty for such a sudden shift from marks based annual examination system to RUSA’s Choice Based Credit System with semester wise exams.

Further, at a time when the centre decided to boost the budget allocation under Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) four times than it was in 2013 considering the visible reforms in the higher education, the Himachal Pradesh Government has decided to tamper with it.

The ambitious Centrally Sponsored Scheme had begun with a modest budget of Rs. 500 in 2013, and by March 2018, the government had increased it to Rs. 13,000 crore.

By March 2016, a total of 115 Universities and 1218 colleges had been approved by RUSA Project Approval Body or infrastructure grants. These approvals were accorded to the proposals included in the respective State Higher Education Plans (SHEPs).

It attended to the discrimination India’s education institutes were facing as the government was more inclined towards spending on premier institutes like Indian Institute of Management and Indian Institutes of Technology. The other varsities were burdened with the responsibility to fetch funds through their own resources.

The RUSA, however, was intended to provide financial support to proposals contained in State Higher Education Plan (SHEP) approved by the State Higher Education Councils (SHECs) in order to achieve the objectives of equity, access and quality.

The fund releases were linked with performance and learning-teaching outcomes.

According to IIT Bombay’s independent performance review (of four years) of the scheme done in 2017, the funding linked to reforms has had a visible impact on higher education. The gross enrolment ratio (GER) was 19.4%, faculty vacancies were at 60%, and the teacher-student ratio was quite poor at 1:24 in 2013 when it was first introduced. In 2018, the GER was reported to be at 25.2%.

The faculty vacancies dropped to 35% as the States lifted the ban on faculty recruitment. The teacher-student ratio is now in better shape at 1:20.

Several universities in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been right-sized, and critical governance reforms such as the formation of the SHEC and merit-based appointments of vice-chancellors in Odisha, Goa, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu are visible,

said the review.

There has been an improvement in the number of institutions accredited and their scores. In 2012, 106 State universities and 4,684 colleges were accredited. By 2017, an additional 145 State universities and 5,445 Colleges were accredited

it further said.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

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After CBSE, Himachal Postpones Board and UG Exams Till May 1st

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college and board exams in himachal pradesh postponed

Shimla-The ongoing examinations of the Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education and under graduate classes have been postponed, a spokesperson of the HP Government informed today. He said that the state government has taken the decision keeping in view the health concerns of the students and parents.

These exams included the ongoing board examinations for Class 10th and 12th and UG examinations starting on 17th April to 17th May, 2021.

The government said that the situation would be reviewed on 1st May, 2021, and further directions would be issued accordingly. In a separate notification, the HPBOSE said that the schools exams for the two board classes were postponed till May 17, 2021. The Board also relieved all the staff engaged in conducting examinations including Superintendents, Deputy Superintendents, Flying Squads, Invigilators and Peons except Chowkidards. 

The decision of the government came after the Central Board of School Education (CBSE) today decided to cancel the examinations for class 10 and postpone exams for Class 12 due to the ongoing surge in daily COVID-19 infections in the country. The Board said that there was a constant demand for postponing the exams from students, parents, and the state governments.

However, the state government in Himachal Pradesh had decided to go on with exams amid the peeking second wave of the pandemic.

“The pandemic situation in the country is seeing a resurgence of COVID 19 positive cases in many states, with a few states having been affected more than others. In this situation, schools have been shut down in 11 states. Unlike State Boards, CBSE has an all-India character, and therefore, it is essential to hold exams simultaneously throughout the country,” the Union Education Ministry today said.

Looking to the present situation of the pandemic and school closures, the Ministry decided that the Board Exams for Class XII to be held from May 4thto June, 14th, 2021 would be postponed. The situation will be reviewed on 1st June 2021 by the Board. A notice of at least 15 days will be given before the start of the examinations.

 The Board Exams for Class X to be held from 4thMay to June 14th, 2021 were  cancelled.

“The results of Class Xth Board will be prepared on the basis of an objective criterion to be developed by the Board. Any candidate who is not satisfied with the marks allocated to him/her on this basis will be given an opportunity to sit in an exam as and when the conditions are conducive to hold the exams,” the Ministry said.

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Himachal’s Educational Institutions Closed Till April 4 Amid COVID-19 Case Surge, Pubic Holi Celebrations Prohibited, No Restriction on Tourism

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Himachal PRadesh closes Educationla institutes

Shimla– All the educational institutions in Himachal Pradesh, including Universities, Colleges, Technical Institutes and schools, would remain closed till April 4, 2021, as a precautionary measure keeping in view the spike in COVID-19 cases in the State, the government informed today. But schools would remain open for the classes having their examinations, it was informed.  

The decision was taken in a meeting held today that was presided by Chief Minister Jairam Thakur.

“Last year the spike in cases was gradual, but this year this surge is very rapid. In the last 20-25 days, the number of new cases has spiked from 220 to 2000, which is a matter of great concern for the state,” Chief Minister told media.

On being asked about tourist movement from neighboring Punjab – a state with massive surge in daily cases- the Chief Minister said that for now no restriction would be imposed on tourists given the peak tourist season starting from April.

Also Read: Himachal Reports Over 300 New COVID-19 Cases With 2 Deaths, Second Wave Could Peak in April & Last for 100 Days, says Report  

“Last year, the peak season was completely foiled. Therefore, it would not be favourable for the economy of the state and livelihood of the people to restrict tourist movement,” Jairam Thakur said.

“But if the surge continued and picked up more pace, then the government would review the situation again,” he told media. But the hotels and homestays would have to follow the SOPs while operating, he said. 

Chief Minister said that schools having residential facilities need not close their hostels, however, they would have to comply with all the SOPs to keep these residential areas cut off and appoint Compliance Officer to comply with all the orders. He said that teachers and other school/college staff would continue to attend the institutions.

Jai Ram Thakur said that no social and cultural events would be organized in the State by the Government and gatherings would be restricted to a maximum of 200 for indoor and 50 percent for outdoor events.

He said that nursing and medical institutions would continue to function as usual. He said that congregations and langers inside the temples would also be banned and other darshans would be allowed.

Chief Minister said that 3rd April would also be a holiday for all the offices in the State and there would be no public celebration of Holi.

He urged the people to celebrate Holi at their home with their family members only. He said that all the frontline workers would be sensitized to get themselves vaccinated at the earliest completing their second dose as per schedule.

It was also decided in the meeting that District Administration would take a judicious call on more restrictions keeping in view the positivity and fatality rate in their respective districts.

Chief Secretary Anil Khachi, Additional Chief Secretaries R.D. Dhiman and J.C. Sharma, Secretary Health Amitabh Awasthi, Mission Director NHRM Dr. Nipun Jindal and other senior officials were also present in the meeting.

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UHF Nauni Gets New Labs Equipped with Latest Technologies, Nature Park for Students  

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UHF Nauni Soil and leaf analysis lab

Solan- Dr. YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry (UHF), Nauni, today dedicated four projects to the students and farmers at the university campus. 

Among the project inaugurated by Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor, UHF, was a state of the art Soil and Leaf Analysis laboratory established with the financial assistance of Rs 4.55 crore (over seven years) from the World Bank-funded HP-Horticulture Development Project.

UHF Nauni Vice Chancellor

Dr. Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor, UHF, Inaugurating Soil and Leaf Analysis laboratory

The laboratory is equipped with the latest equipment like Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer, CHNS Analyzer, Microwave digestion system, UV-VIS Spectrophotometers. It is well equipped to analyze the different soil properties including different macro and micronutrients and as per the analysis values, the recommendations are also given to the farmers.

NEW UHF nauni lab building

Soil and Leaf Analysis laboratory

The samples received from different HP-HDP clusters of the state are being analyzed in the laboratory and ad-hoc recommendations for High-Density Planting on clonal rootstocks are given. A field laboratory of the Department of Plant Pathology constructed for Rs 14.17 lakh met out of the pesticide testing scheme was also inaugurated today.NEW Labs in UHF nauni

Two projects- Nature Park and a Commercial plantation model of wild pomegranate developed under the ICAR National Agricultural Higher Education Project were also unveiled today.

Lab facility uhf nauniv

The nature camp developed by the Department of Floriculture and Landscape Architecture has been developed as a recreation cum activity area for the students and showcases different landscaping methods. Under NAHEP,a commercial model of wild pomegranate developed by the Department of Silviculture and Agroforestry was also dedicated to the students and farmers. 

UHF nauni nature park

Nature Park

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Parvinder Kaushal congratulated all the team members behind the completion of the projects. He said that both the laboratories will be immensely beneficial for conducting research. Speaking about the development of projects under the ICAR’s NAHEP, Dr. Kaushal said that the university is in process of developing more such plantation models which will not only be beneficial to the students but also help popularize new technologies among farmers. The statutory officers of the university, heads of all departments, coordinator and team members of NAHEP IDP, students and staff were present on the occasion. 

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