The group of 12 secretaries on “Education and Health – Universal Access and Quality” — which included school education secretary SC Khuntia, financial services secretary Hasmukh Adhia, health secretary Bhanu Pratap Sharma, food and public distribution secretary Vrinda Sarup and former sports secretary Ajit M Sharan in their presentation to the Prime Minister last month had called for extending the Right to Education Act up to class 12 from the current level of class 8.
The committee also suggested the launch of a new umbrella scheme from 2016 called UNIQUE (Unique National Initiative for Quality and Universal Education), which will entail a gradual exit from all exiting education schemes such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Midday Meal Scheme over a period of time. Under UNIQUE, funding will be outcome based. Eighty per cent will be based on a state’s needs and 20 per cent on the state’s performance.
Vocationalisation of school education and improvement of teacher training and education were also among the suggestions made by this group. For improvement of teacher education, the secretaries suggested a new all-India or state-level entrance test for B.Ed courses to “capture bright students in teacher’s pre-service courses” and an integrated four-year B.A./B.Sc. B.Ed course.
“It is suggested to increase the minimum qualification to become primary teacher from +2 to bachelor degree level. Already States of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand prescribe this educational qualification,” the report states.