‘A man in a hurry’ was the most common lament by Kapil Sibal’s critics in the education sector. A change in guard at what has been a hyper-active human resource development ministry with Sibal at the helm will be keenly watched by detractors and supporters of the former minister’s vision for education in India.
Following his swearing in on Sunday as the HRD minister, the M Mangapati Pallam Raju, Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, told media-persons that he would carry forward the “good work” by his predecessor. Many are perhaps hoping for the opposite.
While the furore over Sibal’s ushering in of a controversial new common entrance format for the IITs seems to have died down, the matter seems by no means fully settled.
Speaking to Firstpost, Somnath Bharti, president of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association said that they would be sending a formal letter to the HRD minster on Tuesday seeking a review of the IIT JEE format.
“We are hopeful that with the new HRD Minister the IIT system will get more freedom and flexibility for both academic and non-academics activities…Our grounds (challenging the new IIT JEE format) are legal in nature and that is how we intend to convince the minister. In the view of experts, the new format does not fix the three problems that were cited by the ministry. Even otherwise the new format is violating two Supreme Court judgments. If we are not able to resolve it without going to court, we’ll go to court,” Bharti said. The issues Sibal had sought to address the new entrance were dependence on the coaching industry, neglect of the school curriculum and stress on students.
Asked what his expectations from the new HRD minister were, Bharti said, “He should undo the recently announced change and restore the old JEE format till all interested parties – the alumni, students, faculty and the country at large – are consulted and a framework that the solves the problems identified by the minister is found out.”
Another vocal critic of the Sibal’s one nation one test plan, Sanjeev Sanghi, president of the faculty forum, IIT Delhi, said they would also at some point in the future meet Raju to express their reservations of the new format with respect to the NITs.
“With our agitation, the IITs were able to get what they wanted. But the whole problem, which we will definitely put forward to the new minister, is that new format for NIT is not proper. If something is not proper for the IITs, how is it proper for the NITs…No child can prepare for IIT alone. And to get into NIT, 40 per cent of board marks will be counted. So students now have to perform well in the board exams, then the IIT Main and thereafter in the IIT Advance. So it is a chain of three exams that will add to stress even more. I feel the whole purpose of Sibal’s reform has failed,” Sanghi said.
Sanghi, however, added that he was apprehensive about reviving the issue because of the confusion it might create again for students. He said PILs challenging the new format had been filed in the Mumbai, possibly also in Hyderabad and that a case might also be filed in the Supreme Court.
“And once the court decides, then, of course, everyone will have to agree to that,” he said.