UGC Planning to Include Agriculture in Basic Tenet of Higher Education

The University Grants Commission (UGC) is planning to introduce ‘agriculture’ in the basic tenet of higher education to uplift the agro-based economy of India at a time when farmers in the country are in distress.

At present agricultural education is not part of the courses that are provided at higher education institutes or colleges under the UGC. Discussions have started on including ‘A’ in STEM i.e. science, technology, engineering and mathematics – the primary need of industries as well as the source of maximum job in the country.  The main motive of this move is to break silos or grain storage widening the scope of farming through the mainstream education platform for overall growth of rural India.

The deliberations on including agriculture in the basic theory of education under choice-based credit system began at the 3rd National Teachers Congress held last week in Pune. The change from STEM to STEAM could be a reality very soon.

Vice-chairman of UGC, Bhushan Patwardhan while speaking to media said that “The concept of STEAM intends to sensitize students about the processes, perspectives and problems of farming sector. It could also bridge the gap between the urban and rural, taking information to the farmlands miles away from the town, hoping to push the ‘engine’ for the development of agro-based Indian economy. Basic introduction to agriculture as part of higher education curriculum makes lot of sense, when about 58 percent of rural households depend on farming as principal means of livelihood.”

Patwardhan said, “India has an agrarian economy, but farming has barely been at the forefront of the higher education. I see no reason why a student of B.Sc, BA, B.Com or MBA, BE and MBBS must not get an opportunity to at least know the basics of agriculture during their college education".

Education specialists also stressed that STEAM would take knowledge and understanding to the distant farming areas. “The move can help in increasing farmers’ returns,” said Jaideep Kute, science graduate, whose father is an onion-farmer in Pune.

Onion-farmers in the state are going through a tough time. Wholesale price of onion in Lasalgaon went down to as low as Re1 per kg. Many sugarcane farmers are also in trouble this year.

Patwardhan said, “STEAM has the potential to deal with the farmers’ miseries.  He said, “Scientific researches’ will help farmers select the right cash crop to grow. And mathematical theories will also percolate to them. Most importantly, students will be more sensitive to the farmers’ hardships.”

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