Movement for Strengthening Science Based Higher Education and Research: The Case of Niser and Iisers in India

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Pranaya SWAIN, National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar, India
Based on the recommendations of a Task Force constituted under the XI plan of the Government of India for rejuvenation of basic scientific research in Universities several action points for strengthening science based education and research have been initiated. However, attracting students to a career in Science from the school level still remains a great challenge. Many reports claim that young students from high schools are slowly being lured away from their genuine interest in science, because of the lack of innovative ways of teaching science. Their natural curiosity about science is not appropriately encouraged and supported in the existing school and college system (Lavakare, 2016).

To set up a new paradigm in research-led undergraduate teaching of science, during 2006-2008, five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) were set up, followed by two new ones in 2015 and 2016. The National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) was set up in 2007 at Bhubaneswar by the Department of Atomic Energy of the Government of India. In these institutes, science is taught in a holistic manner, seamlessly integrating Undergraduate teaching with research in an interdisciplinary manner (Ganesh, 2015). These Institutes were envisaged by the Government of India with a very specific purpose of embedding scientific rigour within the larger pedagogic practices in the country.

Currently the IISERs and NISER together churn out over one thousand undergraduates every year. DST-INSPIRE and KVPY fellowships have been just about the right kind of incentives that the Government of India has in place to attract the young students and to cultivate and/or orient genuine interest in Science at the high school level. Here is an attempt to deep dive into the genesis and philosophy of the movement in past couple of decades, of the research-led undergraduate teaching in Science in India.