Thursday, August 11th, 2022 07:13:12

No Takers For Poor Quality Professional Education

Updated: October 8, 2011 11:25 am

Every official discussion in seminars and conferences on education policies and implementation invariably begins with sermons on the need for enhancing quality. Government documents invariably project great efforts made in this direction at every stage of teaching and learning. Improvement in marks obtained and increase in the pass percentages is often claimed as a major achievement in quality enhancement. CBSE has liberalised examination system and made it so stress-free that thousands of students now score hundred per cent marks in certain subjects. Governments and its institutions mostly rely on statistics for projecting their progress and achievements. Quality, personality development and value inculcation are not measurable in statistical terms. In a system and society that values marks in the annual board examination, the focus is totally centralised on high percentages of marks and nothing else. The consequences are now apparent in the labour market where marks are losing their sheen. Around three-fourth of the professional graduates are deficient and not fit to take responsibility without additional inputs. Of the other college graduates the percentage of the deficient touches ninety. In such conditions, the spurt in the numbers of private colleges has created more complex and complicated situations for the aspiring young persons. During the last ten-twelve years, the regulatory systems have permitted establishment of institutions of higher learning for considerations other than professional and academic. Policy makers have turned a blind eye to it for reasons best known to them. Young persons and gullible parents who patronised these institutions are now facing an unexpected situation: the degree has little worth and there are no jobs available to the products of the institutions that charged hefty fees, gave high marks and grades but provided little education and training! Entrepreneurs in professional education; who came with such fanfare and pronouncements that they would provide world-class training and skills were really attracted by the perception that education and health are the most secure sectors for investment! That prompted so many to rush to ‘educate the young of India’! Quality and other ingredients of personality development were of little concern to them. Slowly and gradually, people realised the futility of low-quality education, particularly in professional areas and began to explore alternatives. One of these is the exodus to foreign countries from amongst those who could afford it. For others, there is hardly any alternative avenue available except private colleges! A couple of new IITs or IIMs just cannot create an impact when the number of aspirants goes to several lakh and is increasing every year.

The consequences of the quality-neglect are multifarious. These are now coming up in a very subtle manner before everyone to see. It comes straight from UP that two-third of the officially allocated and approved seats in Engineering Colleges are vacant; there are no takers. The fate of numerous Institutions of Management and even B.Ed colleges are no different. It is reported that as against 120,000 seats for B. Tech, only 26,000 have gained admission. In MBA, only 4,991 have gained admission against 35,000 seats. The phenomenon is no longer confined to UP alone; the trend extends itself to several other states also. A couple of years ago engineering and management colleges were the prestigious courses eagerly sought after by the parents and their wards. Only around 10-11 per cent of young persons in India in the 18 to 22 age group find a place in higher education as against the global average of 22 per cent which goes higher than even fifty per cent in some of the developed countries. There is no dearth of young persons willing to join technical and management institutions that are providing good quality instruction. Quality primarily is a consequence of competent faculty and the work culture. The public disenchantment with these ‘recognised’ institutions is a very powerful statement against those responsible for upgrading quality, standards and values in educational institutions; which in turn; are responsible for creating the future and preparing professionally competent young persons. The young persons so prepared must lead by example in their professional life; through their commitment enriched with ethics and human values.

Over the last two decades, the expanding system of education in India at each stage has witnessed steep deterioration on various fronts. Even the prestigious IITs and IIMs are functioning with over 30 per cent vacant faculty positions. Some of them were further burdened by the MHRD to ‘teach’ the students of newly opened IITs! If these flagship institutions can function with acute staff shortage why should private institutions worry about faculty availability? The Regulatory body for technical and management education; All India Council of Technical Education; AICTE became statutory bodies in 1985. Similarly the National Council for Teacher Education Act (NCTE) was approved by the Parliament in December 1993. During the last ten years or so, both of these bodies have earned themselves a very poor reputation, particularly for the unbridled expansion that was permitted. The AICTE is under scrutiny and the NCTE has been taken over by the MHRD. Even these actions have not generated any confidence towards improvement in their functioning in future. These two are not the only regulatory bodies at the national level that have unfortunately, instead of stemming the rot and enhancing quality; have done just the opposite. Everyone knows how approvals can be manipulated at each level and one could get an institution sanctioned through the corruption route. If it were not so, why suddenly the system of approval of the deemed universities was questioned, the AICTE chairperson was removed and NCTE Act was suspended? Are only these bodies responsible and MHRD has no role?

In a system riddled with deep-rooted corruption all around and no-holds-barred liberties to accumulate corrupt practices, larger national interests are unscrupulously ignored. Needless to say that a large number of professional institutions are playing havoc with the quality. If it were not so; our rivers would not have been polluted beyond redemption, natural resources would not have been plundered and traditional rights of tribal, and hill people would not have been usurped by the rich and the mighty. Education is the only ray of hope and this must be preserved by all those who believe in the trusteeship principle and accept the responsibility to hand it over to the next generations intact if not better in every aspect.

By JS Rajput

(The author is former Director, NCERT)

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