Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The pathetic state of Higher Education
I have been anxiously witnessing and following the ongoing tussle between the university and the private colleges in Indore and in most of Madhya Pradesh. I am sure the situation may not be different in other parts of the country too, but being a resident of MP, I am deeply concerned. I am not siding with either side, and, saying whether one is right and the other is wrong. I am just voicing my opinion.
In the last few years, we have seen a lot many private Engineering, Management, Medical and other colleges mushrooming in and around Indore. Most of such colleges offer students the best of infrastructure, the finest of faculties from India and abroad, and, the best of academic facilities. To top it all, they even provide high grade training facilities and placement help to their students. Some institutes even provide overseas educational trips, live industry projects, seminars, participation in international conferences, practical training, and, the works. Undoubtedly, the promoters of such institutes are running the education business and, why not, but, in the long run, it is only the students who are benefiting from it. They are willingly taking up such courses in increased numbers, as they see the advantages clearly. These colleges as part of their curriculum itself provide students world class facilities, real world experience in abundance and lots of industrial exposure. The corporates gain by a drastic reduction in training costs post induction. Most of such institutions are set up by noted academicians, the industry’s who’s who, and, reputed business houses, who have been passionate about providing quality education to Indians, at their doorstep. Who can forget the contribution of Mr Sandeep Manudhane to education in Indore, MP or India? He and people of his kind have been responsible to bring about an Educational Revolution in India.
Another major advantage is that the millions of students who go to college year after year, do not have to depend on the very limited IITs, IIMs, AIIMS, AFMCs, RECs, etc. They are provided education, which is far better than what is being provided by the so called state run colleges, with the latest and the most modern techniques, and, at competitive costs, in the vicinity of their hometown and houses. The students have much more options to themselves. And, they are not forced to take up any of these options at gun point. They take up these courses at their own free will. After all they are all grown up students, who can decide who should run their country, their state, and, even how they should run their lives. They are all very smart, and, know what is the best for them. Nobody can befool them!
When talking about the quality of students produced, there is no doubt that quality nowadays is becoming far better than the quality of students produced by the state run institutes, which are still harping on their historical glory and culture. I have been interacting with such students over the years, and, find that with the kind of modern exposure, students from private institutes are much sharper, smarter and industry ready. These private institutes have brought higher education in the reach of the rural Indians and have opened the doors of the world for them. An increased produce of talented students, is also increasing the employment opportunities in and around these institutes, invariably set up in small cities, towns and small economic centres, and, gradually bringing down the cost of employability – as companies seldom would need to spend on training. After all, these institutions are spending maximum efforts on making students employable.
Somehow, these advantages of private institutes are very soon overshadowed by a few small words – legality, affiliation, recognized, authenticity, etc – of so much importance in our society. A person may not get a good government job if he is not educated from a recognized university, he may not get admissions for higher education, if the college or school is not recognized, not affiliated to any good university or board, or, is not legal. Our system will not give any weightage to the inherent skills, calibre and capabilities of a person. Such a person may not be able to even showcase his talents, as he may be rejected outright during the screening.
In the ongoing issue, as I understand, that in MP, either all colleges should be affiliated to a university of MP, or, should have obtained a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for running courses run by other universities. Most of these private colleges, I feel, have affiliations from universities, which have happily granted them so. Or, for academic record, such colleges have tie ups with universities offering distance education courses, and, students have willingly opted for them. So, why, so much hue and cry for an NOC, specially, when these colleges have been running these courses for so many years now. Why were they not stopped when they were first set up? Was the administration sleeping then? Or, is it that for some vested interests, the administration has suddenly woken up and wants to act in haste.
Why are these colleges being forced to take affiliations or NOCs from such universities, which themselves hardly have any infrastructure to offer, hardly have any quality education to offer, whose students hardly attend their classes, or, which are unable to get their exams held on time? Or, why should they be forced to link themselves to a university which by itself is so deeply politicised and corrupt, and, virtually run by rogues. It is really a very sad state of affairs.
We often read that slowly MP has become an investor friendly state – simplified processes, ease of setup of business, world class infrastructure, etc – where is it? Is this investor friendliness? Entrepreneurs who have invested so heavily in education are being harassed. For what? Have they for once said that they would not take the NOCs?
In the end, in this duel between the colleges and the administration – who is the ultimate loser? Without doubt – the students. Most of these students are in the final year of their education. They have been placed in good companies, and, now due to the apathy of the system, are being forced to run from pillar to post for appearing in their exams – just to get a degree/certificate. Failure to get a degree on time, may cost them their jobs, their careers, and, for some even their lives. Last week, examinations conducted by some university for students of such institutions were withheld, and, later, they were not allowed to conduct those examinations. This ruthless act and the high headedness of the administration put in jeopardy the future of hundreds of students, for no fault of theirs. The institutes made arrangements for student exams to be conducted outside MP, and, sent their students there. What impression would all this leave in the minds of these students. Would they ever want to come and work for their home state, or do something for their own state? The answer is no. Would you want your child to study in a state where there is no rule of law? I for sure would not. The administration is just lending a deaf ear. The media is not speaking a word for them. The people of Indore and MP are just sleeping over the issue. And, we have become so immune to all this, that we just keep taking everything lying down. It is none of our concern ever. Will we always end up lighting candles?
Is quality education not our right? Do we need a system like this? Its time people woke up. Go to the university and find out if any of its office bearers actually know what an NOC is? Find out the process of getting an NOC. Is the process actually documented? Or, is it somebody’s whim and fancy. Find out, when you adhere to all rules and regulations, what it costs to get an affiliation or a recognition to a state university?
In a country where education is our fundamental right, why is setting up an educational institution a nightmare? What kind of rights are we talking of? It could ultimately be a great service for you - yourself, or your child or your relative, or anybody whom you care for. What are you waiting for? SPEAK UP before it is TOO LATE.