Anita Joshua

It has addressed 15 questions based on higher education

Panel says deprivation of educational opportunities is a multi-dimensional problem

It has supported gradual rationalisation of fees

NEW DELHI: Perceived as anti-poor and anti-reservation, the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) has sought to set the record straight by coming out with a clarification on many of its recommendations on higher education.

Posted in the form of FAQs, the NKC has addressed 15 questions that have been raised on its recommendations on higher education.

Though the NKC has submitted recommendations on at least 20 different issues relating to ‘knowledge,’ its note on higher education has drawn the maximum flak with a majority of Vice-Chancellors rejecting the policy direction that the Commission would like to give this sector.

On reservation

Seeking to clarify its position on reservations, the NKC has stated that caste-based reservation is only one form of affirmative action.

While this is a position it took in the original note on higher education, the Commission in the FAQs has dwelt at length on the deprivation index it had mooted earlier.

Stating that deprivation of educational opportunities is a multi-dimensional problem, the Commission has pointed out that attention needs to be paid to different salient levels of deprivation faced by students.

This includes not just caste but also other indicators such as income, gender, region, place of residence and even the kind of schooling a student has had.

“A meaningful and comprehensive framework would account for the multidimensionality of differences that still persist. Such a deprivation index could provide weighted scores to students and the cumulative score could be used to supplement a student’s school examination score. After adding the score from the deprivation index, all students could compete for admissions.”

The deprivation index system, according to the NKC, serves the dual purpose of considering disadvantages and ensuring that a reserved category student, who has otherwise enjoyed other benefits, does not get undue preference at the time of admissions.

Subsidised

On fee hike, the NKC — while reiterating its stated position of the need for fees to constitute at least 20 per cent of the total expenditure in universities — has said that gradual rationalisation of fees will not result in an exorbitant increase. Instead, it would ensure that those who can afford to pay do so while education is subsidised for those who cannot pay.

According to the Commission, fees should be adjusted every two years through price indexation.