Thursday, July 08, 2010

HRD Minister and IIT Directors on collision course

The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) seem headed for a confrontation over drastic examination reforms proposed by a panel of IIT directors. The ministry is unlikely to allow the IITs a two-tier entrance exam structure, as proposed by a panel headed by IIT-Kharagpur Director Damodar Acharya, sources told Hindustan Times. HRD minister Kapil Sibal had appointed the panel to explore the possibility of replacing the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and other engineering exams held across the country with a single entrance test, with the focus on "general aptitude" and not knowledge of specific subjects.

The two-tier structure suggested by the IITs comprises a common aptitude test and an additional test for those who cross the first hurdle. The additional test was proposed to accommodate the faculty, who are against scrapping the JEE. Over 1,300 IIT alumni too have petitioned the government against abolishing the JEE. "If IITs conduct second-tier test, similar demands will come from other institutes. This defeats the whole point of a single test", a ministry source said.

The IIT directors will now meet on July 10 to come up with a solution, sources said. "We have to find a middle path acceptable both to the IIT community and Centre", a director said. In its interim report, the panel had suggested that 70 per cent weightage be given to Class XII Board exam marks and 30 per cent to the common aptitude test. But it had also said it needed further consultations with stakeholders and may finetune its recommendations. After the faculty opposed scrapping JEE, the panel suggested an additional test. It hoped JEE could continue as this additional test, sources said.

Source: Hindustan Times, July 8, 2010

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