Thursday, August 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
M A I L B A G

Higher education: what's wrong & what should be done

THIS is in response to Atma Ram's article "Higher education in a mess" (July 27). Out of 14 paragraphs, the author devoted 12 to ills that inflict our higher education. Only two small paragraphs deal with remedial measures to come out of the mess. It is a sorry state of affairs that these days everyone politicians, bureaucrats, educational administrators, parents etc. criticise higher education and blame teachers. They never evaluate their own role in creating this mess. When it comes to giving concrete suggestions to improve the situation, they have nothing tangible to offer.

Now universities and colleges are opened for political considerations: to please voters in a constituency, to consolidate vote bank, to please a particular caste or sect and to make the late father or mother of a politician eternal by opening a new university or college in his or her name. Most of the universities and colleges were opened due to these considerations in Punjab, Haryana, HP and J&K. The need of the area, viability of the institution and resources of the state have rarely been taken into consideration.

Now the trend of proliferation can be witnessed in the field of technical education. Recently about 25 engineering and technical colleges have come up in Haryana and 10 in the periphery of Chandigarh. Punjab is not lagging behind. This mushrooming of technical institutes is without taking into consideration all the pros and cons. Private parties are opening these engineering colleges, not for imparting knowledge but for earning huge profits. The policy-makers have no time to think about their possible effects such as a glut of unemployed engineers, fall in the standard of technical colleges (arts and commerce).



 

Most of the art and commerce college in this region are facing a grave crisis fall in admissions due to the opening of technical institutes and threat from the state government to stop the grant-in-aid. If the grant-in-aid to these hundreds of non-government affiliated colleges is stopped then the whole burden will be on common people. In that situation a student has to pay a fee of Rs 1,500 a month instead of about Rs 150 charged now to study in an arts college. Higher education will be beyond the reach of a common man. Everyone also cannot afford to go to an engineering college owing to a low percentage of marks or low income. A poor and over-populated country like India cannot afford to follow privatisation of education like affluent Western countries. The government cannot escape from its social responsibility and welfare role.

The author of the article seems quite envious of teachers' grades and scales. Whereas compared to their qualifications, teachers are still the lowest paid. Officials of civil, defence and private (MNCs) services get more in scales, promotions and perks. Punjab, Haryana and HP are a few states in India which have not fully implemented the career advancement scheme of the MHRD and the UGC. For example, college lecturers with a Ph.D degree have not been promoted Readers.

When decisions regarding higher education are in the hands of one or two bureaucrats in every state, when non-academicians are appointed Vice-Chancellors, when teachers are given scant regard, when the state government forgets its benevolent role and when we simply criticise and not suggest and work for improvement, higher education will remain in a mess.

VINAY KUMAR MALHOTRA, Ambala Cantt

Weather predictions

Daily predictions about the weather by our meteorologists in general, and the annual estimation about the onset of the monsoon in particular are usually wayward. I wonder why the government, which spends so much on infrastructure and establishment of these departments, does not ensure accountability on the part of weathermen. Millions of rupees have been thrown into space in the shape of weather sensing satellites. But for what use?

MANJITINDER SINGH, Mandiani Ludhiana

 

Pressure horns

Do our law-makers ever think of the terrible harm being done by the reckless use of pressure/musical horns by motorists? I remember sometime back the high court/Supreme Court passed orders to stop the use of such horns. Did they do anything to implement their order?

SUKWINDER SINGH, Amritsar

NET for lecturership

What is the use of holding the NET for lecturership, when not a single college in India advertises any permanent or regular post of lecturer. Normally, a post is filled on a contract or ad hoc basis.

ATUL KR. AHUJA, Yamunanagar

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