The country has a number of important apex educational institutions which are contributing to the body of knowledge. Some of these institutions have been set up by the Acts of Parliament while many others are autonomous bodies. Some of these are discussed below.
University Grants Commission (UGC):
In 1956, the UGC was set up by an Act of Parliament. It is not only a grant sanctioning body, a key aspect of its work is to set standards and make sure imparting of quality education at the higher education level. To upgrade the quality of university and college teachers, the UGC has implemented several schemes. It also encourages universities to offer new programs. The UGC also frames norms with regard to qualifications and experience of teachers and their pay structure. It floated the idea of autonomous colleges with an aim to encourage innovations and experimentation in colleges. The goal is to allow deserving colleges to prepare curricula, courses of studies and their own system of evaluation. The aim is to provide quality education at the higher education level.
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU):
In 1985, the 1GNOU was set up by an Act of the Parliament. The aim was to augment opportunities for higher education and democratizing education. The functions of IGNOU include:
- Providing education to all irrespective of age and region.
- Provides need-based professional academic courses.
- Sets and maintains standards in distance education as an apex body in the open learning system in India.
- Promotes and develops distance education in the country.
The programs offered by IGNOU are different from the courses provided by institutes of correspondence courses. The IGNOU’s instructional system is also unique as it follows a multi-media approach in imparting education. Its instructional system includes:
- Interaction with academic counselors at periodic intervals,
- Practical activities at the study centers,
- Self-instructional study materials,
- Assignments for students to get feedback.
- Audio-visual aids such as audio and video cassettes, broadcast over AIR and Doordarshan in their educational programs.
Other Open Universities:
The country has four other open universities at Hyderabad, kota, Nalanda and Nasik. The first Open University in the country was set up at Hyderabad.. These open universities have an estimated intake 0’2,50,000 students for different programs.
National Council of Educational, Research and Training (NCERT):
In 1961, the National Council of Educational, Research and Training (NCERT) was set up under the Societies Registration Act (1860). It offers academic support for improving the quality of school education. Also, it works as the academic advisor to the Ministry of Human Resource Development at the Center. NCERT also formulates and implements policies and programs in the areas of school and teacher education.
Broadly, NCERT’s functions relate to:
- In-service and pre-service training for teachers,
- Research and development in school education,
- Extension and dissemination work.
All these activities lead to achieve the main objective of improving the quality of school education in the country. Thus, the NCERT (i) prepares curriculum, methods of teaching, instructional and exemplar materials, techniques of evaluation, teaching aids, kits and equipment’s and learning resources., (ii) Conducts in-service and pre-service training of teachers, teacher educators-and other education personnel., (iii) Carries out and promotes educational research., (iv) disseminates improved educational techniques and practices and research findings., and (v) works as a clearing house for ideas and information on all matters relating to school education and education for teachers.
National Institute of Educational, Planning and Administration (NIEPA):
The NIEPA is an apex educational body in the area of planning and administration.
It evolved from its parent organization, the Asian Institute of Educational Planning and Administration. Its activities cover both the school sector and the higher education sector. Its activities include:
- Providing training to educational planners and administrators,
- Conducting research in education,
- Diffusion of innovations, and
- Offering consultancy services.
There are similar apex educational bodies for coordinating activities and setting up standards in (a) agriculture and allied sciences and (b) medical education.