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MERITE: Modi govt’s 5 year, 20-point action plan to improve engineering education

The scheme will target socially vulnerable groups and colleges that do not have adequate academic and infrastructural facilities.

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New Delhi: The central government has a 20-point action plan to improve the quality of education and graduates in technical colleges in India in the next five years.

The programme called Multidisciplinary Education and Research Improvement in Technical Education (MERITE) is a World Bank supported scheme, to be co-funded by the Ministry of Education and World Bank and implemented over the next five years from 2022-23 to 2027-28.

The scheme will target socially vulnerable groups and colleges that do not have adequate academic and infrastructural facilities.

MERITE is an ensuing scheme of TEQIP, under which the government has used the services of graduates from Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) to teach students in engineering colleges in backward areas.

The Ministry of Education earlier this month released a detailed document of the MERITE project explaining how it would be implemented across the country and what were the expected outcomes from it.

As per estimation, the project is expected to benefit 12 to 14 lakh undergraduate students, over one lakh post graduate students and 14,000 to 15,000 faculty members by the end of five years.

“Improving employability of engineering graduates by strengthening skills and entrepreneurship capabilities”, “increasing equitable access to technical education, focusing on women and socially and economically disadvantaged groups and strengthening female careers” and “enhancing the ecosystem by supporting multidisciplinary institutions and programs,” are some of the aims of the scheme as listed in the policy document.

The institutes participating in the scheme are expected to be located in urban and semi-urban areas that face challenges of underdeveloped facilities, inadequate capabilities, and weak incentives limiting their research and innovation.

As per the document, the 20-point implementation plan has been divided into three parts — for students, for faculty and for institutes and lists several measures that need to be taken with respect to all three.

Among the measures for students, institutes should “identify academic weaknesses in students belonging to the vulnerable groups and initiate remedial measures”. Students should write a test at the beginning of each semester to identify what kind of intervention they need and how remedial classes and bridge courses can be offered. Institutes should work on enhancing communication skills and soft-skills of students and make them study in peer groups of 6-8 students so that they can learn from each other.

Students should also undergo training to get better placements and clear exit exams such as the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), the document says. Institutes have been asked to organise sessions for students after class, which will help them to hone their technical and soft skills and prepare them for interviews and higher studies. Institutes have also been asked to promote students to take Massive Open Online Courses (MOOSc) for better understanding.

For faculty, it asks for training of underqualified teachers, helping them upgrade their skills and develop a streamlined appraisal mechanism for the appraisal of teachers.

For institutions, the scheme asks for “holding knowledge-sharing workshops with other institutions yearly to improve knowledge exchange”, “improving digital infrastructure in institutes” and focusing on creating awareness about various scholarship and schemes being run by the institute. Institutes have been asked to make “special efforts for training/internship/placement of vulnerable students, including females”.


Also read: How universities are being renamed under Modi govt as focus shifts from ‘Gandhi, Nehru’


 

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