Look before you leap into higher learning destinations
The world’s largest democracy has been witnessing a great upsurge in the number of higher education institutions since the last decades. Increasing the gross enrolment ratio (GER) with the offer of various courses has been the objective. However, the case of institution sans campus is many, and is damaging the future of the country.
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The target of attaining GER of 30 by 2020 has resulted in the setting up of increasing number of higher education institutions in public and private sector. The demographic dividend of the country eyes at all possible avenues for pursuing good quality education. And the public perception about the public institutions either in the control of Central or state government is still positive and the education seekers usually go by the proclamations of respective authorities.
The disappointing fact, however, is the inadequacy of the teaching-learning system and infrastructure in the new public institutions, belying the high degree of trust in such institutions as higher learning destinations. And, there are various instances in the country in which the statutory creation of any public institution on paper has been considered for admitting the students without waiting for the proper physical establishment of the institution.
Such institutions begin from the premises of certain other institution / temporary campus under mentoring of some well-established institution. Although it has been an old practice, the haste shown in admitting students without proper education set up is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
In certain cases, it is seen that even after long years, the institutions have been unable to develop its own campuses and continue functioning from makeshift campuses.
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The surrogate institution acting as mentoring institution or temporary campus will always have limited facilities to cater to its own students and is most likely unable to do justice with the new institution. Under such situation, the students seeking admission in new institutions are unable to reap the benefits of higher education pursued by them completely and the disappointment becomes traumatic for them and their families.
Nothing can stop the passage of time, so any time spent by the students in such institutions cannot be reversed back and for succeeding in future, such students have to shoulder the burden of making up the learning gaps on their own.
The issue related to the future of young generation is very serious. The deficiency in delivery of quality education will roll out incompetent graduates with degree certificates.
The arguments pertaining to the varying mechanisms for inculcation of core competence at the knowledge level, professional level, life skill level, etc. need integration with the enabling environment in the portals of education institution. Although the present digital era provides every one access to ubiquitous knowledge, learning is not possible without appropriate eco-system with human intervention in imparting as well as seeking education.
Virtualisation of higher education should be relied solely for supplementing the learning practices as any efforts to create virtual education institution using digital technology may have the implications for which the society is not ready.
The present state of stiff competition and concern for employability may provoke students to demanding adequate infrastructure. The learning-teaching process will eventually degenerate in due course of time because of unavailability of suitably competent educated human resource for meeting various requirements.
Under the circumstances, all concerned need to be sensitised about the fact that the task of imparting proper education in institutions is the most sacred and responsible task for creating a secure future generation and civilisation. Therefore, any complacency in securing suitable learning environment could be damaging to the society and the nation as a whole.
In fact, the rules and criteria for starting any education institution should be applied alike on both public and private institutions. No institution should be allowed for admissions unless suitable arrangement for imparting quality education and other skills are put in place.
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Statutory bodies should take a holistic look at the precarious situation and education institutions should start admitting students only after becoming capable of imparting good quality education to the aspirants.
(The writer is founder Vice-Chancellor of Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur, UP. He is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur, UP).