Insurance, housing schemes for 60L school teachers

New Delhi: Nearly 60 lakh school teachers in the country are likely to get insurance and housing facilities with state education ministers today welcoming the proposal.

HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, who held discussions with state education ministers at the meeting of National Foundation for Teachers? Welfare (NFTW) in this regard, said the proposed scheme has got "in principle" approval at the meeting.

"I discussed with state education ministers today on the plan for starting insurance and housing schemes for 60 lakh teachers. In principle approval has been given by them for the schemes," he said at the State Education Ministers conference here.

HRD Ministry is mooting life insurance and health insurance cover and a group housing cover for the 60 lakh school teachers in the country.

The insurance schemes will require financial contributions from the Centre, the states and the teachers. The group housing scheme will be administered at the central level but will not require financial contribution from the Centre or the State Governments.

The Health and Life Insurance Schemes are proposed to cost premium wise, far less for teachers as compared to individual schemes or even schemes run at the state level.

The State Education Ministers welcomed the proposal and the immense benefit that will accrue to teachers, but said they would be able to communicate formal approval after discussing it with their Finance Ministers.

The life insurance cover would guarantee a minimum of about Rs five lakh on retirement and Rs two lakh on death during service.

The health cover, limited to hospitalisation of the teacher, spouse, two children and parents, is being worked on two options, either on a maximum cover of Rs 1.25 lakh, which would mean lesser premium and another option of cover of Rs three lakh, which would mean a higher premium.

The group housing scheme is being envisaged to be centrally administered through a portal, with construction to be done by NBCC, land to be bought at institutional rates and group housing societies to be formed by teachers.

"I am happy that Delhi government has identified land for the housing scheme," Sibal said.

Grading experiment at Class-X in CBSE successful, says Sibal

A year after deciding to introduce grading in Class-X CBSE board exam, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today said the experiment has been "successful" and has paid dividends in making the tests stress free and reducing the rate of suicides among students.

The introduction of grading system and Continuous and Comprehensive Exam (CCE) have proved beneficial for students, he said at the state education ministers conference here.

"There was a lot of misgivings on introduction of Continuous and Comprehensive Exam and our decision for abolition of board exam (from 2011). The grading system has made the exam tension free. The experiment has been successful," Sibal said.

The Class-X results in CBSE this year has been better than last year, he said. While 89.28 per cent students cleared the Class-X test, the pass rate was 88.84 per cent last year.

Sibal took a bold step last year by deciding to abolish Class-X board exam from 2011. Besides, he replaced grades by marks in the Class-X exam in CBSE.

He said the rate of suicide of students due to exam stress has also come down this year.

Sibal appealed to education ministers in states to follow the model and make the exam system more student-friendly.

"I hope state boards will take this experiment forward," he said.

Sibal harped on examination reforms and change in course content at school level. He said the exams should aim at testing raw talents of students.

Sibal favours common entrance for admission into varsities

Critical about holding of multiple entrance exams for admission into higher educational institutions, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today pitched for uniform entrance test.

To start with, the CBSE, a premier school education board under the HRD Ministry, will merge the All India Engineering Entrance Exam and All India Pre-Medical Test, Sibal said.

The merger of AIEEE and AIPMT will help students immensely. While Physics and Chemistry will be common for both, the medical students can answer only the Biology paper and the engineering students can answer the Mathematics paper.

Addressing the Education Ministers Conference, he said his Ministry was presently debating whether it is possible to have one common exam after class XII that will test general awareness and aptitude.

The universities will give weightage to the Class-XII marks and entrance marks of students while giving admission.

For entrance to institutions, class XII marks and this test could be the criteria. The marks of different Boards could be equalised through a mathematical formula for weightage.

This will give an opportunity to children from economically weaker sections who are not able to avail of coaching and get through the current system of entrance exams.

Sibal underlined that this was just being debated at present, as the current system is being seen as unfair for the poor and the under privileged.

"We are trying to prepare a system under which students will not have to appear in exam after exam," he said.

The Council of Boards of School Education (COBSE) has already prepared a common curriculum in science and mathematics. He said the state boards should adopt the curriculum which would help in holding a common entrance test.