Saturday, March 06, 2010

IIT revamp caught in web of panels

Reforms at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are caught in a web of committees. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal has formed a series of committees, but none is functional. In October 2009, Sibal called a meeting of the IIT Council -- the highest decision-making body -- and announced committees to look into various aspects of the IITs. A committee was formed to recommend the new cutoff for the IIT entrance exam and pro- pose new curricula. The committee is yet to meet.

The panel, comprising the Secretary of Science & Technology, Secretary of Biotechnology and the Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), was to submit its report in three months. It was also supposed to suggest reforms in the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Most of the recommendations for reform by two earlier exam reform panels still lie unimplemented. For instance, a panel to explore JEE reforms was set up in 2008 under V.G. Idichandy, IIT-Madras Deputy Director. Idichandy has given it as his personal opinion that the JEE should be scrapped and only school marks taken into account. The Council formed a second, five-member panel under former Atomic Energy chief Anil Kakodkar to outline a vision for the future of the IITs. The team is expected to submit the draft in six months. Four months on, the panel has not even met.

The reform process at the IITs, both for the JEE and the selection procedure, needs urgent change following an RTI exposure of the faulty selection in previous JEEs. The RTI plea, filed by IIT Kharagpur professor Rajeev Kumar, revealed that 994 candidates, who were denied admission in 2006, might have made it if the IITs had followed their stated method of determining subject cut-offs. The IITs have since revised their cut-off formula thrice but demands for a more transparent selection process persist.

Source: Hindustan Times, March 6, 2010

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