October 03, 2010

Panel push on medical education - NCHER, NCHRH

A task force set up by the human resource development ministry has suggested bringing medical education within the ambit of an overarching higher education commission.

Disregarding opposition from the health ministry, the task force has drawn up a draft bill for creation of a National Commission for Higher Education and Research (NCHER) that would “holistically” look after higher education. It has also suggested that legal education be brought under the commission’s ambit but the Bar Council of India (BCI) has opposed it.

The task force has, however, said that agriculture education should remain outside the NCHER purview as agriculture is a state subject and bringing it under the commission would require a constitutional amendment.

“We have finalised the draft NCHER bill. We have stuck to our stand that legal education and all branches of medical education should be brought within the NCHER ambit. Agriculture education should be kept out of NCHER as it is a state subject,” a member of the task force said.

The task force members included professors Mrinal Miri, M. Anandakrishnan, Goverdhan Mehta and N.R. Madhava Menon.

Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and secretary Sujatha Rao have opposed the HRD ministry’s proposal. They have decided to set up a National Council for Human Resource in Health (NCHRH), which would regulate all branches of medical education, including medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and physiotherapy.

The health ministry has already prepared a draft NCHRH bill, which has been sent to different ministries for consultation.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal has said the draft NCHER bill will be discussed with all “stake holders” before it is finalised. The draft bill will be sent for inter-ministerial consultation before it is taken to the cabinet. If the cabinet clears it, the bill will be introduced in Parliament.

The BCI, which regulates legal education, has opposed the task force’s suggestion and boycotted one of its consultation sessions.

“We have prepared the bill as per the recommendations of a committee on higher education under professor Yashpal. The committee had said that all branches of higher education should be brought under one overarching body,” the task force member said.

The basic objective of the NCHER is to give autonomy to universities to innovate and experiment. Bringing all types of education under one body will break barriers between different branches of education and promote excellence, the member said.

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