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New Policy For Higher Agricultural Edu'n Coming Up

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New Higher Agricultural Education Policy
The ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) is now working towards a new higher education policy in agriculture. With the aim of bringing uniformity in agricultural education and rising its standard, the ICAR is conducting an exercise of identifying the lacunae in the system, rectifying them and also setting new quality standards through steps like accreditation to all the universities and their affiliated colleges.

Their efforts is focused at generating better quality and trained scientists, teachers and agriculturists for the country. The initiative stems from the result of a survey conducted by National Academy of Agriculture Research Management (NAARM) in Hyderabad which pointed out deficiency of at least 50,000 agricultural scientists by 2010.

CD Mayee, on of the members of the ICAR committee and former chairman of Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board from city says "Where would we get these scientists from? Surely they have to come from the agriculture universities. Today there are no uniform quality standards in Agricultural Education. Thus bringing uniformity in agriculture education is the first priority. Though there is a model act of ICAR, it is not being implemented across the country in right manner. Hence, the need for accreditation and up-gradation of the colleges and the universities".

Few subjects that are being discussed under the effort includes the question of necessity of private colleges and universities in agriculture and their accreditation. At present, the standard of agriculture education has lost its shape. There is no uniformity in course structure and pattern of examination system.

There are other issues which are being deliberated on is preventing disintegration of existing universities. Mayee said, "The universities could be regional. But not specialized ones". Many people are even aware that there are about 120 private agriculture colleges in Maharashtra and Government colleges are just 10-15. This is an uneven distribution of colleges as these 120 colleges alone are equal to the 40% admission capacity of the country.

Most of these colleges do not even follow the Maharashtra Council of Agriculture Education and Research (MCAER). In one way National policy would be discouraging private colleges but it will definitely prevent the mushrooming or specialized private colleges. There could be more central agricultural universities along with the other universities in state.

Mayee says "Education should be the fundamental for better research. But the scenario is very bad today. There are 56 agriculture universities producing 30,000 graduates every year. But the quality is substandard. Hence, there is a need for overhauling the entire framework of the universities".

However, the accredited colleges alone would be eligible for central government schemes. Universities would also be prompted to generate their own funds for their development. ICAR could also work out a uniform fee structure for the universities as affiliated colleges.

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