IISERs give ok to the concept of science magnet schools

Following is from a report in Indian Express.

The proposal to set up new specialized Navodaya Vidyalayas to be termed as ‘Science Magnet’ schools, in collaboration with top R&D institutes, got the go-ahead from the Indian Institutes of Science Education & research (IISER) on Tuesday.

At a meeting with the Human Resource Development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal, IISER directors said that such schools would allow an integrated approach to science education from school to university level. IISER Thiruvananthapuram director has also committed to helping to provide an enabling environment to students enrolled in these Science Magnet schools. The Planning Commission is also learnt to have accorded, in principal, approval for the proposal.

These specialized Navodaya schools will only cater to students from classes IX to XII and will be set up over the next three years. The idea came up in light of the huge shortage of science graduates and post-graduates in the country and the diminishing interest in core science subjects.

Institutes like IISERs, Indian Institute of Science, National Physical Laboratory, Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, Council for Science & Industrial Research (CSIR) will be approached to help these schools which will be located in close proximity to these R&D institutes.

Initially I misread and thought that the IISERs agreed to have science magnet schools in their campus. The above report just says that they agree to the concept. Related reports say that they agree to accept students with IB (International Baccalaureate) degrees. That is important because the science magnet schools may need to get away from CBSE/ICSE/state-board and have IB so as to have a flexible curriculum that allows more courses in science and mathematics. The standard CBSE/ICSE/state-board does not have that flexibility.

I guess the reason an ok from the IISERs is important is because these schools are targeted to be feeder schools to IISERs.

4 comments September 8th, 2010

Planning Commission approves Science Magnet Schools; to be implemented soon and then followed by Arts and Culture Magnet Schools

Update: Apparently the MHRD people driving this project have told the HRD minister regarding the origin of the idea behind this proposal and Odisha is in their initial list of locations for one of the 10 schools.

See http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Science-Magnet-Navodayas-soon/597429 and http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100330/jsp/nation/story_12280434.jsp for details. Following are excerpts from the Indian Express article.

… a new set of Navodayas will come up as ‘Science Magnet’ schools in collaboration with top-notch R&D institutes like the Indian Institute of Science, Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, National Physical Laboratory, Council for Science & Industrial Research, Indian Space Research Organisation and the IITs among others, highly placed sources told The Indian Express. Following them will be special schools focused on culture, music, sports and vocational education.

These specialised schools will, however, only cater to students from classes IX to XII. All other Navodaya schools admit students from Class VI onwards.

Starting this year, the schools will be set up over the next three years and add to the chain of over 560 Navodayas spread across the country. Cleared last week by the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti’s Executive Committee headed by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, the proposal is set to go to the Union Cabinet and will take off with 10 Science Magnet Navodayas to start with.

“The whole concept has been developed in view of the huge shortage of Science graduates and post-graduates worldwide. No one wants to do core Science any longer. So planned as a Phase II of the Navodaya expansion, 10 Science Magnet Navodaya schools will be set up at a cost of some Rs 15-20 crore each,” a senior official in the HRD Ministry said. “These will be located in the vicinity of institutes like NPL, BARC, ISRO, IISc etc with whom we will be collaborating. We have already written to these institutes.”

“These institutes will basically do the handholding for the specialised schools, conduct special sessions, help set up state-of-the-art labs, assist in making Science teaching easy, evolve new pedagogical methods and also help to project the basic sciences as attractive options,” added the official. “It is hoped that students will ultimately also plug the vacuum in the scientific community and join their league at these institutes.”

While the course will be based on CBSE curriculum, the admission to these schools will take into account aptitude in Sciences, participation in events like Science Olympiads among other criteria. Admissions to the Navodayas are on the basis of a national-level examination.

We had written about this in http://www.orissalinks.com/archives/303 and had contacted the SAC-PM, DST, IISER/NISER directors, and MHRD officers about it. We are happy that it is now going to be implemented. Hopefully, one of the 10 schools will be in Odisha.

March 30th, 2010

Setting up of 6,000 Model Schools at Block level gets union cabinet’s nod: PIB

Following is from http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=44613.


16:35 IST

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today gave its approval to the setting up of  6,000 Model Schools at the Block level  in the country. Initially, in the First Phase of the implementation of this Centrally Sponsored Scheme, 2,500 Model Schools will be set up in the Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs). These schools will be set up through State Governments.

            A model school will have infrastructure and facilities, at least of the standard as in a Kendriya Vidyalaya and with stipulations on pupil-teacher ratio, ICT usage, holistic educational environment, appropriate curriculum and emphasis on output and outcome.

Objective:   The main objectives of the scheme are,

¨       To have at least one good quality secondary school in every block.

¨       To have a pace setting role for these schools.

¨       To try out innovative curriculum and pedagogy

¨       To be a model in infrastructure, curriculum, evaluation and school governance 

The salient features of Scheme are as under:

  • Location: 2500 Model schools will be set up in Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs).
  • Land:   Land for these schools will be identified and provided by the State Governments free of cost.
  • Medium of instructions: The medium of instructions will be decided by the State Governments. However, special emphasis will be given on teaching of English & spoken English.
  • Classes: The schools will have classes from VI to XII, or IX to XII.   
  • Management:  These schools will be run by State Government societies similar to Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan.

There will a continuous evaluation of the working of the schools by State Government agencies through a regular and well structured system of field visits. Besides, an independent agency may be assigned the task of monitoring of the scheme, including progress of construction for each State.

Financial requirement for setting up 2,500 schools during the 11th Five Year Plan has been estimated as Rs.9,321 crore, of which estimated  central share  is Rs.7,457 crore.  Planning Commission has allocated Rs. 12,750 crore for this scheme under the 11th Five Year Plan. Rs. 650 crore has been provided in the budget for 2008-09.

Sharing pattern will be at the ratio of 75:25 between centre and the states during the 11th Five Year Plan and 50:50 during the 12th Five Year Plan, while for special category states, the sharing pattern would be in the ratio of 90:10. The scheme will be implemented from the current financial year.

      The Scheme is, however, not to be implemented in the 6 states where assembly elections are being held, till the poll process is over.



The 123 educationally backward blocks in Orissa are (See also http://education.nic.in/mdm/EEBs.pdf for a bigger list):

Sl.No. Name of State/District Sl.No. Name EEB Blocks   
XI. ORISSA      
1 Sambalpur
    1 Dhankauda  
    2 Rengali  
    3 Lakhanpur  
    4 Kolabira  
    5 Laikera  
    6 Kirimira  
    7 Rajborasambar  
    8 Paikmal  
    9 Jharbandha  
    10 Gaisilet  
    12 Kochinda  
    13 Jamankira  
    14 Reamal  
    15 Barkot  
    16 Tileibani  
    17 Naktideul  
2 Sundargarh
    1 Bisra  
    2 Lathikata  
    3 Koida  
    4 Gurundia  
3 Kendujhar
    1 Kendujhargarh  
    2 Harichadanpur  
    3 Patana  
    4 Ghatgaon  
    5 Saharapada  
    6 Telkoi  
    7 Champua  
    8 Jhumpura  
    9 Joda  
4 Mayurbhanj
    1 Koliana  
    2 Sulia Pada  
    3 Muruda  
    4 Saras Kana  
    5 Rairang Pur  
    6 Bija Tola  
    7 Bisoi  
    8 Jamda  
    9 Bahalda  
    10 Tiringi  
    11 Kusumi  
    12 Gopa Bandhu Nagar  
    13 Karanjia   
    14 Jashi Pur  
    15 Aukruli  
    16 Raruan  
5 Dhenkanal
    1 Kankada had  
    2 Anugul  
    3 Chhendipada  
    4 Athmallik  
    5 Palalahada  
    6 Forest Area  
6 Phulabani
    1 Phulabani  
    2 Phiringia  
    3 Khajuripada  
    4 Baudh Sadar  
    5 Harbhanga  
    6 Kantamal  
    7 Baliguda  
    8 Chakpad  
    9 Daringbadi  
    10 G. Udayagiri  
    11 Nuagaon  
    12 Raikia  
    13 Tikabali  
7 Balangir
    1 Patnagarh  
    2 Belpara  
    3 Khaprakhol  
    4 Titlagarh  
    5 Muribahal  
    6 Saintala  
    7 Bangomunda  
    8 Turekela  
    9 Balangir  
    10 Loisinga  
    11 Puintala  
    12 Agalpur  
    13 Deogaon  
    14 Tentulikhunti  
    15 Tarbha  
    16 Sonepur  
    17 Dunguripali  
    18 Binika  
    19 Biramaharajpur  
    20 Ulunda  
8 Kalahandi
    1 Bhawanipatna  
    2 Kesinga  
    3 Narala  
    4 Madanpur Rampur  
    5 Karlamunda  
    6 Dharamagarh  
    7 Junagarh  
    8 Jayapatna  
    9 Kokasara  
    10 Kalampur  
    11 Golamunda  
    12 Komana  
    13 Khariar  
    14 Sinapali  
    15 Boden  
9 Koraput
    1 Padmapur  
    2 Chandahandi  
10 Ganjam
    1 Chhatrapur  
    2 Ganjam  
    3 Khalikote  
    4 Kodala  
    5 Purusottampur  
    6 Hinjilicut  
    7 Polasara  
    8 Kavisurjanagar  
    9 Rangilunda  
    10 Kukudakhandi  
    11 Digapahandi  
    12 Sanakhemundi  
    13 Chikiti  
    14 Patrapur  
    15 Bhanjanagar  
    16 Jaganathprasad  
    17 Buguda  
    18 Sargad  
    19 Dharakote  
    20 Surada  
    21 R. Udaygiri  
11 Puri
    1 Dasapalla

November 7th, 2008

Science magnet school as part of IMA? Not yet, but a precursor.

Following is from Samaja.

April 21st, 2008

Analyzing the educational aspect of the PM’s independence day speech and its implication to Orissa

The PM’s independence day speech will be remembered for a long time for its groundbreaking educational steps. Here, we analyze them vis-a-vis Orissa.

  • K-12
    • "We will support 6,000 new high quality schools — one in every block of the country"   [Orissa has 314 blocks. Currently the central govt has three kinds of schools: Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and Ekalabya Vidyalayas. My guess is these will be Navodaya Vidyalayas. Until now, Navodaya Vidyalayas were being made one per district. Extending it to one per block will do wonders.]
  • Higher education
    • "We will also ensure that adequate numbers of colleges are set up across the country, especially in districts where enrollment levels are low. We will help States set up colleges in 370 such districts."  [Orissa has 30 districts. As per the NSSO study of 2004-2005, Table 3.14.1 shows that in the 15-19 age group 29% people in Orissa are attending school/college and in the 20-24 age group this number for Orissa is 6.1%. (Both numbers are lowest among all but the small states/UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu and Lakshadweep.) For the Scheduled Tribe population these numbers are 17.1% for the 15-19 age group and 4.1% for the 20-24 age group.]
    • "We will set up thirty new Central Universities. Every state that does not have a central university will now have one." [Orissa does not have one so it should get one. But considering that there are 23 other existing central universities, making it a total of 53 central universities, Orissa should get two.]
    • "we are setting up five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research" [The five IISERs are at Pune, Kolkata, Mohali, Bhopal, and Trivendrum. A NISER is being set up in Bhubaneswar.]
    • "eight new Indian Institutes of Technology" [Three of these IITs are announced to be in Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh. Orissa should get one of the other five IITs.]
    • "seven new Indian Institutes of Management" [Announcements have been made with respect to Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Shillong. If Orissa gets a new IIT then its chance of getting a new IIM this round is much less. Orissa should try though.]
    • "twenty new Indian Institutes of Information Technology." [There will be one in each main states, including Orissa, which does not have one. Existing ones are at Allahabad, Amethi, Jabalpur, and Gwalior and a new one is being established at Kanchipuram. ]
  • Vocational Education
    • "We will soon launch a Mission on Vocational Education and Skill Development, through which we will open 1600 new industrial training institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics, 10,000 new vocational schools and 50,000 new Skill Development Centres."
    • "We will ensure that annually, over 100 lakh students get vocational training – which is a four-fold increase from today’s level."
  • More scholarships
    • "We should seek not just functional literacy, but good quality education – education that is affordable, accessible, equitable – and available to every boy and girl who seeks to study. For the needy we will provide more scholarships."

5 comments August 16th, 2007

PM’s Independence day speech: 30 new central universities, 8 new IITs, 7 new IIMs

Following are the relevant excerpts from the Prime Minister’s independence day speech(TOI) (Hindu)(PIB)

Towards this end, our Government has decided to invest in setting up good quality schools across the country. We will support 6,000 new high quality schools — one in every block of the country. Each such school will set standards of excellence for other schools in the area.

As our primary education programmes achieve a degree of success, there is growing demand for secondary schools and colleges. We are committed to universalizing secondary education. An extensive programme for this is being finalized.

We will also ensure that adequate numbers of colleges are set up across the country, especially in districts where enrolment levels are low. We will help States set up colleges in 370 such districts.

The University system, which has been relatively neglected in recent years, is now the focus of our reform and development agenda. We will set up thirty new Central Universities. Every state that does not have a central university will now have one.

In order to promote science and professional education, we are setting up five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, eight new Indian Institutes of Technology, seven new Indian Institutes of Management, and twenty new Indian Institutes of Information Technology. These will generate new educational opportunities for our youth. I am sure that, working together, we can ensure that at least a fifth of our children go to college as compared to one-tenth now.

The vast majority of our youth seek skilled employment after schooling. Last year I spoke the need for a Vocational Education Mission. Such a Mission is ready to be launched. We will soon launch a Mission on Vocational Education and Skill Development, through which we will open 1600 new industrial training institutes (ITIs) and polytechnics, 10,000 new vocational schools and 50,000 new Skill Development Centres.

We will ensure that annually, over 100 lakh students get vocational training – which is a four-fold increase from today’s level. We will seek the active help of the private sector in this initiative so that they not only assist in the training but also lend a hand in providing employment opportunities.

We should seek not just functional literacy, but good quality education – education that is affordable, accessible, equitable – and available to every boy and girl who seeks to study. For the needy we will provide more scholarships.

I wish to see a revolution in the field of modern education in the next few years. It is my fervent desire that India becomes a fully educated, modern, progressive nation. From this historic Red Fort, I would like this message to go to every corner of India – we will make India a nation of educated people, of skilled people, of creative people.

This is the first time eight new IITs have been formally and officially mentioned. Three of these were previously announced to be in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar. So it would be a shame if Orissa does not get one of the remaining five.

1 comment August 15th, 2007

Letter to SAC-PM on science magnet schools

Update: IMSA website is a bit hard to navigate; following are some important links.


Dear esteemed SACPM:

Thank you for your role in the creation of the 6 IISc type institutes that the PM mentioned today in his address at Mumbai. I assume he meant the 5 IISERs and the NISER in Bhubaneswar.

I have been interacting with the NISER Bhubaneswar and getting some feedback on the IISERs. Its a bit worrisome that many students are going to IISERs because they could not get into IITs. I am told some IISER students gave the IIT JEE again and then moved. That is partly because the current 10+2 schools do not encourage students towards a career in science. The best science minded students get influenced by the big hype about IITs and engineering, and unless appropriate strategies are made they may not opt for science at IISERs.

I have read regrading plans for big scholarships for students pursuing 5 yr integrated M.Sc. That is a good step.

Regardless, I propose that the government of India establish at least one science magnet high school, perhaps boarding schools, in each state during the 11th plan. These schools could partly feed the IISERs. Its role would be similar to the role of Sainik Schools vis-a-vis NDA and the Indian military academy. The science magnet schools could be from class 8 or 9 to 12 with the goal of exposing the wonders of science and arousing the scientific creativity among the most talented youngsters of the country. It will also indirectly shield them from the hype of the IITs. (I am an IIT graduate so I can say that without being accused of being jealous of IITs.)

I currently live in the USA and there are many science magnet high schools in the USA. I do not know of any in India. (IIT Coaching high schools in Kota or other places don’t count. I am told at best certain schools have special science groupings and there are those junior science colleges at +2 level.) To understand what I mean by a science magnet school I would request you to explore the web page of the Illinois Math and Science Academy (http://www.imsa.edu). 40% of IMSA faculty have Ph.Ds and it has a Nobel laureate as a residential scholar.
There are many other such science magnet schools in the USA such as http://www.dallasisd.org/schools/hs/sem/ (School of Science and Engineering in Dallas), http://www.lsmsa.edu/Welcome/index.htm (The Louisiana School of Math, Science and Arts), http://www.bsu.edu/academy/ (The Indiana Academy for Science Mathematics and Humanities, associated with a university), http://www.bxscience.edu/?rn=7944 (Bronx high school of science ), http://www.ncssm.edu/ (North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics), and http://www.tams.unt.edu/ (Texas Academy of Maths and Sciences, associated with a university). There is a list of such schools world wide at
http://jubilee.batelco.jo/Links/tabid/55/Default.aspx but none are in India.

If this interests you I would be happy to provide more pointers and may be able to put in touch with Indian origin students studying at IMSA, Illinois and/or their parents.

Thanks again for the revolutionary steps that you all have taken for India and I believe the proposed magnet schools will complement that. If you like the idea, please please consider having one of the initial/pilot schools in Orissa, my home state. We have already done some groundwork on that. Actually, the initial set of schools could be located near the IISER, NISER and IIsc campus. In this regard, please note that some of the science magnet schools in US are associated with universities. (IMSA is not.)

best regards
ps — Perhaps you have already thought about this.

2 comments June 24th, 2007

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are CBSE board schools set up by the MHRD across India. As per their website their objective is:

* to provide good quality modern education to the talented children predominently from the rural areas, without regard to their family’s socio-economic condition.
* to ensure that all students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas attain a reasonable level of competence in three languages as envisaged in the Three Language Formula.
* to serve, in each district, as focal points for improvements in quality of school education in general through sharing of experiences and facilities.

In Orissa currently there are several such schools with the school in Cuttack as the nodal school.

Continue Reading May 22nd, 2007


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