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Ministry of Human Resource Development12-December, 2006 13:26 IST
Science Education


            The purpose of teaching science is to enable the learner to explore and understand his environment and to inculcate in him a spirit of enquiry, creativity and analytical thinking. It would not be an exaggeration to say that research in sciences is crucial for the development of a country’s economy.  Progress in basic sciences is the engine for technology development, as research in many areas of basic sciences leads to breakthroughs in applied sciences.

Science education at school-level onwards, suffers due to the lack of reasonable experimental facilities, absence of quality teachers with dedication, inadequacies in curricula and lack of flexible subject and course combinations.  Classroom demonstrations are very rare.  Teaching tends to be exam-oriented, which further stifles the joy of learning. 

After the school stage, the brilliant and meritorious students are more inclined to pursue professional courses like engineering, medicine etc. rather than in basic and pure sciences. The reasons for this are the poor quality of science education at graduate and post graduate levels in colleges and universities and the general perception about lack of opportunities for those who take up careers in basic sciences.  About 16 lacs students finish their B.Sc. degree every year in India, but very few of them pursue careers in sciences.

            It is imperative to find ways and methods by which the brilliant scientific minds will be inspired to take up science related careers.  Science and Technology has an enormous potential to meet the basic needs of people and address societal challenges.  There is a pressing need to sustain adequate incentives for generation of new knowledge and simultaneously make such knowledge available to the poor at affordable prices. Attracting young, brilliant minds to study the sciences and choosing science related careers as their first preference appears to be one of the major challenges for the nation.


            The subject of science occupies a central place in the learning paradigm of school education.  It is one of the compulsory subjects upto grade X as envisaged in the National Policy on Education.  Learning in the subject is expected to provide skills of rational thinking and enhance the qualities of observation, logical, analytical and critical thinking in the learners.

            In the first few years of primary schooling, the subject is taught as environmental science.  The focus is on observation and exploration of the surroundings.  At the upper primary stage, an integrated approach is adopted to enable the learner to envisage the subject in a holistic manner.  This is the stage where the learner is expected to ask the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of things.  The secondary stage aims at helping the learner understand the fundamental concepts of the subject in a holistic manner and empower him/her to develop the skills of logical reasoning and problem-solving.  Different science subjects are taught as independent subjects as disciplinary approach at senior secondary level.  However, it is an accepted fact that besides curriculum and learning materials which provide the necessary foundational inputs, it is the transaction of the curriculum which plays a central role in achieving the above objectives.

            The subject of science demands greater and more hands-on experience to be given to the learners in order to promote inventiveness, creativity and scientific thinking.  One of the major challenges to the curriculum developers as well as science educators has been to design strategies to achieve some of these goals.  National curriculum framework 2005 also points in the direction of absence of creative, inventive and exploratory methods of the curriculum transaction which result in mediocrity and lack of development of creative abilities in the learners. There is a great need for designing of strategies both in the content and process of teaching-learning of the subject in order to achieve the above national requirements.

            The Central Board of Secondary Education has been constantly striving to improve the quality of school education.  Several efforts have been made in the recent past to bring a significant improvement in science education at school level. Some of these efforts include :-

a.       Restructuring of the syllabus at secondary stage in order to give greater thrust to acquisition of practical skills by the learners.

b.       Redesigning of the pattern of question papers

c.       Introduction of activity based teaching/learning of the subject at secondary stage

d.       Introduction of the scheme of assessment of practical skills through a written examination.

e.       Development of supplementary material in the subject for effective curriculum transaction.

f.         Organization of regional level and national level Science Exhibition.

g.       Conduct of regional and national level Science Quiz.

h.       Organization of series of Orientation programmes for science teachers.

i.         Development of activity based teaching/learning material at upper primary level

j.         Inclusion of investigatory science projects and demonstrations of experiments at senior secondary level.

k.       Upgradation and updation of the science curricula in the form of frontline curricula.

Some of the radical changes introduced by the Board in the recent past are as under:

1.       Increase in the weightage to the practical work at secondary stage from 25% to 40%.

2.       Assessment of practical skills through a written examination creating virtual laboratory conditions.

3.       Development of practical-skill based assessment tools to assess the practical skills in the subject at secondary stage.


Since KVs are affiliated to CBSE and follow the CBSE scheme and syllabus of studies, at Class I & II no science teaching is done.  Environmental Science is integrated with Art of Healthy and Productive Living.  From Class III to V, Science is integrated with Environmental studies.  At Classes VI to VIII, Science is introduced as an independent subject as General Science. At Class IX and X level this system continues with practical and project component included in it.  At this stage while science is still a common subject the disciplines of Physics, Chemistry, Biology begin to emerge.

At +2 level three streams are followed in the KVs – Science, Commerce and Humanities.  The subjects included in the Science stream are Physics, Chemistry. Biology, Bio-technology, Computer Science, Information Practice, Multimedia and Web Technology.  KVS organizes Science exhibition every year and the selected entries are then sent to Jawahar Lal Nehru Science Exhibition organized by NCERT. Multimedia aided teaching has been introduced for Science teaching in many KVs.  KV students take part in Science Talent Search and Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Puraskar Yojna. 


The National Policy on Education (NPE-1986) and the Programme of Action (POA-1992) assigned a pivotal role to NCERT in preparing a National Curriculum Framework (NCF-2005). The NCF-2005 reiterates the values enshrined in our Constitution, reduction of Curricular burden on children, ensuring quality education for all and systemic changes as markers of curricula reform.  It has been emphasized that the teaching of Science should be recast so that it enables children to examine and analyse everyday experiences. Concerns and issues pertaining to the environment should be emphasized in every subject and through a wide range of activities involving outdoor project work.  It should also enable learners to acquire methods and processes that will nurture thinking processes, curiosity and creativity.  Rote learning should be discouraged. Inquiry skills should be supported and strengthened for organizing learning experiences for construction of knowledge and fostering creativity. 

Based on the recommendations of NCF – 2005, the syllabi in Science have been revised for all stages of the school education.  The syllabus for Environmental Studies up to Class V has been perceived as an integrated curricular area for the entire primary stage.  The syllabus is woven around six common themes close to the child’s life.  Sciences for upper primary stage have been built around seven core themes.  While integrating assessment into learning process, it emphasizes on learner-friendly approach in the development of instructional materials.  The same themes are dealt at deeper levels at the secondary stage.  The shift from knowledge transmission to active participation of learner, in the construction of knowledge, is strikingly visible.  At the higher secondary stage, the syllabus takes a disciplinary route, with emphasis on experiments/technology and problem solving. The core topics of a Science discipline taking into account recent advances in the field have been identified carefully and treated with appropriate rigour and depth. The disciplinary approach emphasizes a coherent focus on important ideas within the discipline that are properly sequenced to optimize learning, problem  solving methods and the awareness of historical development of key concepts of science judiciously integrated into content.

Based on the NCF- 2005, and the new syllabi, the textbooks of Science for various stages are developed in three phases. In Phase I, during 2005-2006, the textbooks of Environmental Studies for classes I and III, and that of Science for Class VI and IX have been developed. For higher secondary stage, textbooks of Chemistry, Physics and Biology for class XI have been made available to schools for academic session 2006-2007. In Phase II, during 2006-2007, the textbooks of Environmental Studies for classes II and IV, those of Science for classes VII and X are being developed. For higher secondary stage, textbooks of Chemistry, Physics and Biology for Class XII have been developed and are to be made available to schools for the academic session 2007-2008. In phase III, during 2007 – 2008, the textbook of Environmental Studies for Class V and that of Science for Class VIII will be developed for making them available to the schools for academic session 2008-2009.

Besides, the NCERT also undertakes dissemination of information on all aspects of Science, Environmental Education, Popular Science Education for attaining the goal of Science Education and popularization of Science in the school system. This is done through organization of Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Exhibition for Children (JNNSEC) which is the culmination of a series of science exhibitions for children organized at district, zonal and State levels; promotion of popular science materials; innovative laboratory practices; out-of-school activities in science; the Science Park; and through School Science – a quarterly journal of NCERT. In order to strengthen Science Education, the teacher orientation programmes through both ‘Face to Face’ and ‘Teleconferencing’ modes, and training of resource persons in science are also organized.     


1.         Growth of Higher Education

The Higher Education system has seen a thirteen-fold increase in the number of universities and twenty-six fold increase in the number of Colleges since independence.  There are now 357 institutes of Higher Education comprising of 20 Central Universities, 217 State Universities, 102 Deemed to be Universities, five Institutions established through State legislation, and 13 Institutes of National Importance established through Central legislation.  There are  nearly 17,625  colleges including around 1700 women colleges in the country. 

At the beginning of the year 2004-2005, the total number of students enrolled in the formal system of education in universities and colleges was 104.81 lakhs comprising of 13.88 lakhs in university departments and 90.93 lakhs in the affiliated colleges.  Eighty three percent of the total enrolment was concentrated in the three faculties of Arts (45.12), Science (20.44) and Commerce (17.99) while remaining 17 percent was in the professional subjects.  Enrolment at the degree level has been 89.09 percent (93.15 lakhs), at the P.G. level – 9.41 percent (9.86 lakhs) and the remaining at the research and diploma/certificate levels. 

2.         Schemes launched by UGC to promote Science Education.


To achieve excellence in teaching and research activities, the UGC has been assisting identified universities for granting the status of ‘Universities with Potential for Excellence’.  In the first phase, five universities viz. Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Hyderabad, University of Madras, Jadavpur University and University of Pune were identified in the year 2000 with Potential for Excellence.  These five universities are called “University with Potential for Excellence.”

During the current year 4 more Universities have been identified under this scheme. These are Mumbai University, Madurai Kamaraj University, Calcutta University and North Eastern Hill University.

A sum of Rs.30 crores is allocated to these Universities to provide necessary inputs to these universities to achieve and sustain the superior quality of education and research.  Their governance, fee structure, research funding, admission criteria and recruitment of teachers may well be made different from the others.


During IX Plan, the following 12 universities were identified for establishing ‘Centres of Excellence’ in the areas identified for each University as given below:-



  Area of Specialization to be developed


 Panjab University

Biomedical Sciences


 Guru Nanak Dev

Sports Sciences


Cochin University of                     Science & Technology

Laser & Opto-electronic Science &



Madurai Kamraj University

Genomic Sciences


Himachal Pradesh University

Himalayan Studies


Sardar Patel University

Applied Polymers


Allahabad University

Behavioural Cognitive Sciences


Karnataka University

Polymer Chemistry


Anna University

Environmental Sciences


Arunachal University



Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeeth, Tirupati

Traditional Shstras


Devi Ahilya University

e-Management Studies

A sum of Rs.5 Crores was released to the Universities at Sl.Nos.1 to 9 and a sum of Rs.3 Crores was released to 3 Universities at Sl.Nos.10 to 12.


To help selected Colleges to achieve excellence mainly in teaching activities and initiate a research culture in such institutions, the UGC has initiated a scheme of “Colleges with Potential for Excellence”. During the X Plan, the Commission has identified 97  colleges across the country to support them to improve their academic infrastructure, adopt innovations in teaching, modern methods and learning/evaluation and also introduce a flexible approach in the selection of courses at the degree level.

The ceilings of the grant vary from Rs.35 lakhs to Rs.100 lakhs per college on the basis of the category to which it belongs.  If it is just an affiliated college, it shall receive only Rs.35.00 lakhs. If it is Autonomous or Accredited, it shall receive Rs.60.00 lakhs.  It shall receive Rs.100 lakhs if it is Autonomous and Accredited.  These Colleges will be reviewed from time to time and the colleges which are not found to be performing well will be given a notice to improve.  The status will be withdrawn if they still do not perform well.  A quota has been fixed for each State under the scheme.


The UGC has been supporting  selected Science and Technology Departments established in various Universities which have already exhibited and achieved high quality performance to enable them to acquire highly sophisticated and expensive equipment so that they are internationally competent in key areas of post-graduate teaching and research and also to attain excellence in this area. Support under the programme is being made available normally for a period of five years as a one time input on cent percent basis. The departments which are being supported have been given functional autonomy. Regular monitoring and evaluation are integral part of the programme. The financial support for a selected department in Science and Technology is to the extent of Rs.100.00 lakhs for a duration of five years (one term only).


During 2004-2005, 31  departments were identified for support under the programme.


During the  year 1963-64, the UGC launched a programme of recognizing certain departments of the universities, on the basis of their work and achievements as Centres of Advanced Studies (CAS) with the objective to provide substantial assistance for competent manpower and essential equipment.  The primary aim of the programme was to encourage ‘pursuit of excellence’.  During the year 1972, another programme named Department of Special Assistance (DSA) was launched as a supporting programme for Centre of Advance Studies (CAS) with the aim to promote advanced study and group research so that the identified departments can strengthen research in one or two thrust areas.  Subsequently, in the year 1977, one more programme viz. Departmental Research Support (DRS) again a supporting programme for Department of Special Assistance was initiated with the aim to promote group research.  Subsequently, all these three programmes were merged and now this is known as Special Assistance Programme which operates at three levels viz. Departmental Research Support (DRS), Department of Special Assistance (DSA) and Centres of Advanced Studies (CAS).

Under this programme, university departments in Science including Bio-Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Humanities and Social Sciences are supported to achieve excellence in research in three or four identified thrust areas and also to improve the quality of Post-graduate teaching programme of the Department.  Financial assistance is provided for manpower, equipment, books and journals, seminars, conferences, renovation/alteration and upgradation of existing buildings, working expenses and travel etc.  In addition, Departments are also provided with matching grant as an incentive for resource mobilization, support for international collaboration, for attachments of meritorious students and also to organize summer institutes.  The grant is provided on cent per cent basis.

The range of financial assistance is from Rs.40 lakhs to Rs.100 lakhs depending on the level of the programme and the stream/discipline/subject.

The total number of departments approved by the UGC under Special Assistance programme at the levels of DRS, DSA and CAS are 477     as on Ist April, 2005.



Number of departments approved and supported by the UGC upto




Humanities/Social Sciences.

Physical Sciences

Bio Sciences/Engineering and Technology












Humanities/Social Sciences.

Physical Sciences

Bio Sciences/Engineering and Technology












Humanities/Social Sciences.

Physical Sciences

Bio Sciences/Engineering and Technology













Grand Total



6.                   RESEARCH PROJECTS

                                    Major/Minor Research Projects

Research keeps the process of inquiry vibrant and alive.  Research in universities is the foundation laying period of research personnel in the country and universities are major training ground of researchers.  The UGC inputs provide the base to the teachers for attracting very large research funds from other funding agencies.  It has been supporting research proposals for University and College teachers for past several decades (since early seventies).  The financial assistance is provided to permanent, regular, working/retired teachers in the Universities and Colleges (under Section 2 (f) and 12(B) of the UGC Act, 1956) to enable them to take up research work on intensive and in-depth studies in specific subject areas.  Research Project may be undertaken by an individual teacher or a group of teachers or by a department as a whole.  It can also be undertaken by a retired teacher up to the age of 70.  Priority is given to inter-disciplinary research and inter-institutional collaborative research. 

The number of projects approved, budget allocation and the grant released by the UGC for Major and Minor Research Projects (Minor only for Universities) during 2004-05 are detailed below:-



Number of Projects Approved during 2004-2005

Grants Released (Rs. in Crore)

Number of Women Investigators


Humanities, Social Sciences and Languages






Sciences including Pharmacy, Medical





7.                   RESEARCH SCIENTISTS


The scheme of award of Research Scientists was originally initiated in 1983 to check the brain drain and also to attract the meritorious scientists of Indian origin, who may be working abroad, with a view to promote high quality research in Science, Engineering/Technology, Humanities and Social Sciences and to build a cadre of Research Scientists in Indian Universities by providing opportunities to persons with outstanding merit.

Under the scheme, 200 awards were made available at any given time.  These awards were meant for candidates possessing a Ph.D. Degree and having an outstanding academic/research career.  The awards were categorised as ‘A’, ‘B’, & ‘C’ i.e. Lecturer-Research Scientists-A, Reader-Research Scientist-B, Professor-Research Scientist-C for the purpose of salary only.  The award was for a tenure of five years, on contract, appointed on a long-term basis.  The awardees are not to designate themselves as Lecturer, Reader or Professor.  They can only address themselves as Research Scientist-A, B, or C as the case may be.


The Research Awards Scheme came into existence during the Ninth Plan (1997-98) by merging two schemes namely – National Fellowships and Career Awards of the Eighth Plan.  The Scheme of Research Awards permits permanent teachers of Universities and Institutions to devote full time tenure of three years in research in their respective field of specialization, without having to undertake any teaching responsibility.  The teachers who have a doctorate degree and have shown excellence to pursue research are considered for the award.  The Research Award is given to only those lecturers, senior lecturers, selection grade lecturers, readers and professors who are in continuous regular service in recognized institutions on permanent pots and are under 45 years of age at the time of submission of their application.  The awardee is eligible to avail the Research Award only once in a life time.  The conferment of Research Award is based on the recommendations of an Expert Committee constituted by the UGC.


The Ministry of Human Resource Development had constituted a Task Force for Basic Scientific Research in Universities headed by Prof.M.M.Sharma.

The Task Force recommended the following earmarked annual grant for implementation of its recommendations:-



Budget(Rs. in crores p.a.)


Support for infrastructure Development

In the Universities.



Setting up of 10 Centres in Basic Sciences





Recurrent grants for Research Scientists



Research Fellowships and Post-Doctoral




Winter and Summer Schools and

Linkage programme.



Establishment cost of implementing Agency



Grand Total




The Government of India has accepted the recommendations of the Task Force in toto and had directed the UGC to implement the said recommendations.  Subsequently, the Task Force was converted in to an Empowered Committee for implementation.  The Empowered Committee has made the following recommendations:-


I.          Junior Research Fellowships


It was decided that 5 JRFs may be allocated to each of the Department of Special Assistance (DSA) and Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) approved Departments of the State Universities.  (The Central Universities may do it out of the additional budget allocation made by the UGC during the current financial year.)


The Committee further recommended that the State Universities with potential for excellence and 12 identified State Universities with thrust areas may also be allowed five Junior Research Fellowships.


For the remaining number of fellowships, open advertisement may be given by the UGC and selection process may be expedited.


The condition of qualifying NET will be waived in these cases.



II.    Post-doctoral Fellowships.


The Committee recommended that these fellowships may be named after Professor D.S.Kothari and may be known as Professor D.S.Kothari post-doctoral fellowship.  Prof.Goverdhan Mehta was requested to prepare a scheme for consideration of the Committee. 


III. Research Scientists in the grade of Lecturer, Reader and    Professor


It was decided that initially selection of 200 Research Scientists may be done centrally by the UGC for placement in State Universities.   Detailed modalities of the scheme would be worked out so that the selection could be made at the earliest possible.


The Commission in its meeting held on 24th October, 2006, considered the recommendation regarding Research Fellowship for Science Meritorious students and recommended as follows:-


“The Commission considered the recommendations of the Empowered Committee and approved the same with the modifications that all Science departments of the Universities and Potential of Excellence be provided five Junior Research Fellowships.  It was further decided that some fellowships may also be kept at the disposal of each university for being allocated to Departments, wherever considered appropriate.  The value of fellowship will remain at Rs.8,000/-for non-NET qualified candidates.”


Accordingly, UGC is taking steps to award five fellowships each to all the Science Departments of the Universities with Potential of Excellence, to all Centres with potential for excellence, CSA and DSA Departments under UGC SAP Programme in  State Universities.   The guidelines for the scheme to provide research fellowships in Science to Meritorious students was approved by the Commission in the above meeting.


10.        The Commission at its recent meeting held on 24.10.2006 approved in principle to give an additional personal pay of Rs.15,000/- per month to persons who have obtained Bhatnagar award.  A High Power Committee is being constituted to look into the possibility of all other Awards or membership of Academics to be brought under the purview of this scheme.






Though higher education system in India has grown considerably, there is a paucity of institutions that integrate research-based, under-graduate as well as post-graduate educational programmes of high standard in basic and natural sciences.


2.         India has a large university system. The number of students enrolled in each university is also large. However, the research output from this system is very low. The quality of the research is also average to poor. Each university has many affiliated colleges. The primary work of the system is to grant degrees in science, arts, commerce and other applied areas to a large number of students. This work is so huge that by and large the research activities are carried out in a perfunctory manner.  It was, therefore, felt necessary to establish some new role models of education and research institutions in sciences.


3.         The proposal to set up Indian Institutes of Science for Education and Research (IISERs) is based on the strong recommendation of Scientific Advisory Council to Prime Minister. Several other bodies have also emphasized the need to attract young, meritorious students to career in sciences. Internationally, India is becoming a leading nation in the emerging knowledge economy scenario. In order to gain a competitive advantage, it is necessary to train young students in the emerging fields of sciences. There is a need to establish a set of high-quality education and research institutions in the field of basic and natural sciences. 


4.         The academic model of the proposed institutions is unique and different from either the traditional university system or the technical educational institutions. The proposed institutions will foster education and research in interdisciplinary areas without any boundaries or constraints of academic departments. These institutions will offer Integrated Master’s level programmes as well as Doctoral programmes. The academic programmes will emphasize the spirit of research at an early stage of education. The research infrastructure of these institutions will be at such an international level that it will attract the best talents within the country, as well as successful Indian scientists from abroad to return and take up faculty positions in the proposed institutions.


5.         The proposed institutions will be established as the national centres of excellence. These institutions will be able to award Master’s and Doctoral degrees. Each Institute will have an approximate strength of 1000 students in the Integrated Master’s programme and an additional strength of nearly 1000 students in the parallel streams of Post B.Sc and Post M. Sc. Inputs into the Ph. D. programme. Each batch of Integrated Master’s level students will be admitted through a national-level entrance test.  The Institutes will also have a strong post-doctoral programme to encourage research beyond the doctoral level. The proposed academic model of IISER will showcase a new way of science education and research. They will develop a new model of university – laboratory relationship. Students and faculty of IISER would interact closely with the national laboratories. Similarly, scientists of national laboratories would interact with the faculty and students of IISER.


6.         IISERs at Pune and Kolkata have already been established and the foundation stone of IISER, Mohali was laid in September, 2006.  ‘In-principle’ approval of the Planning Commission has been received for setting up the IISERs at Bhopal and Thrivananthapuram and further action is being initiated to get necessary approval for these two IISER’s.  The academic session at IISER’s Pune and Kolkata have commenced from the current academic year - from temporary location. It is proposed to commence the academic session at IISER Mohali from the next academic year.  

* * * * *

(Release ID :23139)

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