How do you ensure that a student is not given a fake degree? How do you get any control on the number of students studying in any college or university? How do you make it possible for easy bank financing of education and educational institutes? How do you make it easy for educators and teachers to find good opportunities? How can we ensure that students' degrees aren't held back by a college, which is against regulations?
The possible answer to all these questions and more is to have a demat depository and registry of all institutions, educators, students and their credentials right from the 10th standard onwards. Every certificate, degree, qualification, license, grant, scholarship — must be debited/credited through this registry. It makes the process transparent, easy and devoid of fraud. The registry is the purveyor and implements all rules and laws on such matters. The biggest mystery of Indian education is that we still don't know the number of students, the educators and the educated.
The registry must have three arms: a) National Education Provider's Registry b) National Student Registry c) National Academic Depository (This is already functional on a pilot basis). All three must be linked with same institutional and individual IDs. PAN or Aadhar card could be used as a common ID to reduce duplication and for the ease of verification.
National Education Provider's Registry
Right now, respective approving authorities maintain a database of institutions and, in most cases, the list is incomplete. Most of the non-degree-offering institutions are out of the purview of any registration authority. Some are registered under the Shops and Establishments Act of state or provincial governments. This must change.
• Any institution that offers education or training in any form needs to be registered with the National Education Provider's Registry. The registry can advise the appropriate council's recognition. Against each institution, the minimum disclosures may also be displayed for public consumption — Act, recognition, accreditation, seats, fees, and so on.
• No institution must be allowed to be set up an education or training institution without the registration. The registration must be automatic and online.
• Verification, if any, must be post allotment and based on complaints.
• Progressively all forms of education and training must have some form or accreditation and approval process.
National Students & Educators Registry
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the regulator for technical education, attempted a registry of students and academics enrolled in engineering colleges. The Medical Council of India, too, attempted a registry of Medical College faculty. The databases, as we understand, are robust but incomplete. With little tweaking, the same databases could be used as a template to register students, right from Class I onwards, as well as teachers. The database could be subsequently linked to the Education Provider's Registry and Academic Qualifications Depository.
National Academic Depository
This is the only component of the three national registries that has seen some forward movement. The National Academic Depository (NAD) is an initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development to maintain a national-level database of all academic qualifications from secondary school certificate to university and professional certificates. National Securities Deposit Limited (NSDL) has been mandated to do a pilot project and CBSE is the first organisation to port its 12th standard database on to the depository. But nothing has moved further on to this and no other universities/boards have participated. No linkages have been made to the National Skills Registry.
Once these three bodies are formed and become functional, we must mandate the following through appropriate regulations or even changes in the laws:
- Ensure that all degrees/diplomas are deposited with the registry. No institution must be able to give, grant or sanction any degree beyond the sanctioned intake.
- They would also not be able to hold indefinitely any credential of the student unless by rules prescribed by the government and implemented by the registry.
- Dematerialise all certificates and degrees of all students. Have proper coding and numbering.
- Ensure financing of education through a lien on such certificates/degrees.
These steps will also enable the government to have a control over the degrees being given and check fake degrees and excessive student intake (beyond the numbers sanctioned) by certain universities or institutes.
All the above initiatives would need parliamentary backing by way of a well-thought-out Act, since this involves a concurrent subject with multiple jurisdictions. But the databases would go a long way in enabling the education sector and rise to meet the needs of the nation.
This is the seventh part of a series of articles on the New Education Policy.
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