EDUCATION TRIBUNE
 


Govt giving in to market forces
Higher education in a mess; time for introspection
K.L. Batra
W
e are passing through a critical phase as our entire system is under great strain. Different areas of our national life are in a mess. Education is one of the worst-affected areas due to poor quality of management and casual, callous attitude of those who are at the helm of affairs.

Research institute reduced to dumping ground for teachers
Ambika Sharma
T
he State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) located in Solan has earned the dubious distinction of becoming a dumping ground for teachers whose motive to join here does not go beyond remaining stationed at the district headquarters. 

Literacy does not mean wisdom or knowledge
Ashok Kumar
I
n the words of Father of the Nation "education is not to teach an occupation, but through it to develop the whole man." The purpose of education should not only be to make our children literate, but to make this earth a better place to live in.

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Govt giving in to market forces
Higher education in a mess; time for introspection
K.L. Batra

We are passing through a critical phase as our entire system is under great strain. Different areas of our national life are in a mess. Education is one of the worst-affected areas due to poor quality of management and casual, callous attitude of those who are at the helm of affairs.

Top decision-makers have started considering higher education from the business point of view as if it were a commodity to be sold or purchased with profit as the main motive. Liberalisation, privatisation, the globalisation are being blindly followed in this sensitive area.

In Nehru era and after that, too, the socialist concept prevailed and higher education was the state responsibility which provided huge funds for improving the health of institutions of higher learning so that these could deliver efficiently and produce quality product in the form of enlightened citizens.

In 1986 Parliament passed a resolution relating to higher education for which 6 per cent of GDP was to be allocated. With these untiring efforts, the university system was built.

But now everything is being dismantled under the weight of global agencies like the WTO, the GATT, the International Monetary Bank. These institutions are bound to play havoc not only with institutions of higher learning, but the sovereignty of our country itself. This is nothing but unconditional surrender.

Our government is obsessed with privatisation and globalisation which would convert our universities and colleges into markets where education will be sold to the highest bidder, which means only the rich who can pay heavy fees are to enter.

This is a dangerous trend which needs to be halted. The Ambani-Birla report till date without any parliamentary sanction, is going to be implemented. If the late Prof. Nurul Hasan, Union Education Minister, was responsible for strengthening higher education raising the status of teaching community, the present HRD Minister, Dr M.M. Joshi, by tampering with it in the name of improvement.

The old system is being discarded, expenditure on education being cut as if it were wasteful, the state is dragging feet on its social responsibility in this vital field, thus leaving it at the mercy of market forces. Teachers will be now appointed on a contract basis to be paid only what their employer offers and be hired or fired any time. Under such an insecure environment how can a teacher deliver? Uncertainty will lead to an exodus of talent, which is already on the decline. The contract system in western countries is successful as appointments are made on merit and no political leader interferes. But in India, politicians have not no other job except to use influence for such appointments which makes merit and latent the casualty.

Under the new scheme, business, industrial, commercial, culture would invade this sacred field education. Politics in education would pollute these temples of higher learning. This would lead to more deterioration and decline of standards. The Term UGC is being changed to UDC and the world "Grant" is being deleted.

It is a deliberate attempt to change the entire philosophy of education which can unleash disaster. The aim of education is to enlighten minds and transform the outlook of the youth. This is being relegated to the background.

In Haryana, grants to colleges are being cut by 20 per cent and may be gradually phased out. Also, in Punjab and other parts of the country the situation is getting worse. Universities and colleges can starve. If this process continues, we are heading for bad days.

If the government stops funding these institutions, consequences as regards the quality of higher education would be bitter. The fact is that the quality of education at any institution, its growth and prestige, depends upon the amount of finances available. Richer the institution, better is the quality of education at any institution, its growth and prestige, depends upon the amount of finances available. Richer the institution, better is the quality of teachers, better is the infrastructure facility, quality of education and quality of output which enhances the prestige of the institution.

Paucity of funds can spell disaster as it is said that an institution is poor because it is poor and an institution is rich because it is rich.

The whole system of higher education is under attack and is facing many challenges. It is time for introspection. Let us ponder over the crises and find a way out. All teachers must organise and seek cooperation and support of other social agencies, particularly of the student community, in mobilising public opinion so as to mount pressure on the government to review the schemes from the academic point of view.

 

The writer teaches in MLN College, Yamunanagar
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Research institute reduced to dumping ground
for teachers
Ambika Sharma

The State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) located in Solan has earned the dubious distinction of becoming a dumping ground for teachers whose motive to join here does not go beyond remaining stationed at the district headquarters. The institute, which was established as college of education in 1955, remained a state institute of education till 1984. The SCERT came into formation in 1984 with the specific objective of being the pioneer state institute to conduct education-based research and capacity building of schoolteachers through organisation of trainings.

With the changing needs, the SCERT was restructured and converted into a society in 1997 and certain policy decisions were taken for its strengthening to impart qualitative education. This was followed by rationalisation of posts with a provision of including eight posts of college cadre lecturers, six posts of school-cadre lecturers and one each of trained graduate non-medical and arts teachers in its staff. Instead of filling these vacancies, as per the restructuring, it has been observed that teachers here have been joining the institute merely with the intention of breaking their long stay after serving in a nearby school or college.

While two posts of English and one each of physics, mathematics, vocational education and geography have been recommended for the school cadre here it is surprising that there is no teacher for vocational education, a key area of education content. Instead, a home science teacher has been posted here without the sanction of the post. One post of English lecturer in the school cadre has been unofficially changed to college cadre with a view to enabling an English lecturer to break her stay after being transferred from the local government college.

Two economics lecturers are working here despite sanction of just one post. The arrangement has been especially made to accommodate a favourite candidate. Not only this a chemistry lecturer has been adjusted against a post in the subject of political science. The manner in which the teachers have been getting their transfer after serving locally has reduced this state-level institute into a dumping ground.

Politicians have been obliging favourites to get adjustment here without caring two hoots about its restructuring criteria and consequent fallout on academic activities.

In the latest case of anomalies, two trained graduate teachers in the art faculty have been posted here despite the sanction of one post at the cost of a TGT non-medical. One of the TGT arts who happens to be the wife of a Joint Director in the Education Department is not only exerting pressure to ensure that the anomaly continues, but is leaving no stone unturned to remain there.

The extent of manipulation can be gauged from the fact that despite a lapse for four months, the stalemate continues and the aggrieved TGT non-medical has been running from pillar to post to get the anomaly rectified.

Despite the Principal Secretary, Education, having issued orders for transferring him back to the institute with a year's extention, no compliance has till now been made to it. This has adversely effected further progress of some crucial projects in which he was involved as principal investigator. These funds are sanctioned by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Department of Bio-Technology, Mumbai.

The Principal Secretary, Education, Mr Sudipto Roy, lamenting the sorry state of affairs said, it was unfortunate that instead of associating the SCERT with research, those posted there had reduced it to a dumping ground. Instead of possessing a vision for surging ahead in this competitive world, the teachers were only interested in remaining at the headquarters.

He said efforts were afoot to revamp this vital institute and it had been made a nodal agency for devising syllabus of environment education for schools of Himachal.

The Principal of the SCERT, Dr Narender Awasthy, lamenting the sorry state of affairs said the budget constraint posed another problem for the smooth functioning of the institute. Though a sum of Rs 1 lakh was sanctioned for printing of brochures for conduct of national talent search exams by the government, the sum had not been released till date.

This crucial exam provides scholarships to students on an all-India basis and the SCERT is authorised to conduct it on behalf of the state government. Lack of funds delayed the printing of brochures by more than a month. No separate budget had been provided for this research institute for this exam and for the past few years a part of its grant-in-aid had to be reappropriated to meet expenditure.

The Director, Education (Secondary), when asked about this, however, said eversince the SCERT was converted into a society, its funding had become dependent on its annual budget and no separate budget could be provided to it.


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Literacy does not mean wisdom or knowledge
Ashok Kumar

In the words of Father of the Nation "education is not to teach an occupation, but through it to develop the whole man." The purpose of education should not only be to make our children literate, but to make this earth a better place to live in.

At present apart from the economic challenges of poverty, unemployment and malnutrition, we have challenges like terrorism, dowry deaths, intoxication, unsafe sex, strikes and youth unrest. It is only education which can inculcate a spirit of patience and endurance to meet the challenges to a great extent.

It was the power of a knowledge alone which was used by Socrates, Aristotle and Chanakya to bring about a change in history.

In the era of globalisation where LPG means liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation we have to become global players.

Today a distinction between literacy and education has to be drawn. If we go to the Vedic period, education was only the right of the male child. Women were kept apart from the mainstream of education. Even, if the king intended to impart education to his daughter he had to appoint a separate tutor.

As a consequence, today, we find no dearth of dowry deaths. If we look back, in the past two decades, there has been unprecedented expansion in knowledge.

Almost every house has access to newspapers, television and other components of the information system. But the need of the hour is to differentiate between knowledge and wisdom.

If we go by knowledge , a sickle can be used for cutting grass, cutting wood, cuttings the finger of an enemy and also the two, year-old healthy mango saplings planted by a neighbour. It is good education which can make a positive mindset and enable one to distinguish between knowledge and wisdom.

A well-informed mother can provide nutritional and food security to children. Right education to a woman who is involved in cooking for a family can play a vital role in preservation of nutrients and deciding the daily menu and bringing up healthy children who as healthy citizens will be an asset to the nation.


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