Strange way to decide educational excellence

by August 5, 2019 0 comments

The decision to give unoperational ‘institutes of potential’ a tag of ‘eminence’ rather than operational ones is strange

There may be an idea of fairness in using global rankings to determine which higher educational institutions should be  bestowed with an “institution of eminence” tag. N Gopalaswami, the former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) who headed the panel of the University Grants Commission (UGC), was correct that until an university is ranked globally, it should not be considered. It speaks volumes about the decrepit nature of several of India’s higher educational institutions that very few make the global cut, an embarrassing situation for the world’s second-largest populated nation. But if that was the criterion, a normal person would think that it is bizarre that institutes that are yet to start the rather important job of educating people should make the cut on the basis of their ‘potential’, because unlike rankings, these are completely subjective. In fact, the former CEC, in an interview, admitted that they should not really have been considered. Possibly the government’s need to have 20 institutes on the list, 10 public and 10 private, might have been a motivation but it might have been warranted to avoid any controversy altogether by capping the numbers and admitting that India might not have 10 private institutes worthy of inclusion rather than using an amorphous benchmark.

At the same time, reports have emerged that almost half the engineering seats in a State like Tamil Nadu have gone empty this academic year. The situation is similar in many other States as well, with engineering and medical seats going abegging. Many universities are unable to assure placements for their students in these trying times given the overall quality of education. Ironically several of the institutes with empty seats and hollow educational standards must have also had some potential once upon a time, even though it is more likely that many of them were just started with financial lucre in mind. Even in several other major institutes, including those awarded with the “institute of eminence” tag, standards are barely keeping up with those in many other countries and Indian students, already disadvantaged after poor secondary education, fall further behind. There needs to be an urgent fix of the system because the unspoken part of India’s jobs crisis is that far too many “graduates” are unemployable in India and that is proving to be a major impediment in our economic potential. The stories of how engineers and doctorate-degree holders jostle for menial government jobs do not just speak of a lack of jobs, they speak of poor educational standards as well. And gimmicks like “institutions of eminence” will not change that fact.

Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer

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