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New Delhi: Retired defence personnel, university teachers and people from other walks of life could soon be roped in to teach on a voluntary basis in colleges and universities.

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) is working on a plan called the National Tutors Programme, which will look to rope in retired faculty and other professionals for academic services. According to government sources, the plan is part of the ministry’s five-year vision plan that was submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office at the start of the Narendra Modi’s second term.

Beginning this year, the ministry plans to train 20,000 such voluntary teachers. Their selection will be done on the basis of a certain criteria, which the ministry is still working on.

What is the plan?

According to the plan, the ministry will compile a dossier of ‘emeritus faculty’ — senior academicians, scientists, educationists and retired government officials — who are academically fit and willing to contribute.

The complementary teaching they provide in colleges will be in addition to the students’ regular class time.

“Professionals from various fields and retired faculty who are willing to provide their academic services voluntarily to higher education institutions in nearby geographical vicinity and who meet some stipulated eligibility criteria will be encouraged to join as National Tutors,” the ministry note on the policy plan reads.

A source in the HRD ministry added: “The idea is develop a tuition-teaching kind of arrangement at the higher education level by government-selected tutors. Mechanisms to induct retired defence personnel into the teaching system will be worked out, subject to certain stipulated eligibility criteria.”

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‘Woolly-headed idea’

Retired defence personnel believe that their ilk would be more suited for administrative roles in educational institutions than teaching.

Lt Gen. H.S. Panag (retd) told ThePrint: “If I have to volunteer for something, I would volunteer for more of an administrative role in an education institution. When it comes to teaching, defence personnel will have limited capabilities — they can either take care of the physical training side or leadership.”

Commenting on the general idea of a voluntary service, Panag said: “The idea is good but it will be difficult to implement it in a country like India, where people do not believe in the idea of philanthropy and voluntary service.”

A retired civil servant who did not wish to be named echoed Panag, saying: “It is a noble idea but more woolly-headed; it is difficult to make it work in India.”

Former Delhi University professor J.L. Gupta also said the plan is good if implemented properly, but added that retirees should not take up a young person’s job.

Similar idea in National Education Policy

A similar idea has already been proposed at the school level in the National Education Policy document.

“A National Tutors Programme (NTP) will be instituted, where the best performers in each school will be drawn in the programme for up to five hours a week as tutors during the school for fellow (generally younger) students who need help. Selecting tutors from under-represented groups whenever possible will be particularly encouraged,” the policy document states.

“Being selected as a peer tutor will be considered a prestigious position, earning a certificate from the State each year that indicates the hours of service.”

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