Saturday, May 22, 2010

NCHER will not be a super regulator - Medical education & Law to be kept out

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appears to be disinclined to accept the idea of setting up the proposed National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) as the higher educations super regulator. Despite best efforts by HRD minister Kapil Sibal, medical education and law will be kept out of the purview of NCHER. In the aftermath of the Ketan Desai-Medical Council of India (MCI) scandal, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) had sought to bring medical education within the ambit of the NCHER.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is learnt to be of the view that medical education should be kept under the purview of the health ministry-sponsored National Council for Human Resources in Health (NCHRH). The MHRD had cited the Yashpal Committee recommendation and that of the National Knowledge Commission to set up a regulator that would have jurisdiction over the entire spectrum of higher education. However, the PMO is clear that the such reports and recommendations cannot override government policy as enunciated in the President's address to Parliament last June.

The MHRD's efforts to garner total control over the higher education segment has also been opposed by health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, law minister Veerappa Moily, state governments and educationists. The MHRD's efforts are not new. In the UPA-I government, Mr. Sibal's predecessor Arjun Singh too sought to put in place a higher education super regulator. Mr. Singh's efforts ran into dangerous territories as health ministry was then shepherded by A. Ramadoss of PMK and agriculture by NCPs Sharad Pawar.

The MHRD, however, is not giving up its effort to get a larger mandate. To build support for the proposed regulator, the MHRD has planned a retreat meeting on May 29. The meeting will discuss NCHER with experts for further fine tuning. It will then take the draft bill to the Central Advisory Board of Education, which is meeting on June 18 and 19. The idea is to create a critical mass of support for the proposed super regulator.

Source: The Economic Times, May 22, 2010

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