Thursday, April 03, 2014

University Grants Commission (UCG) to Control Technical Education: But has its Existing Controls Benefitted Education in India?

UGCs new guidelines to regulate technical institutions will vest this monolithic institution with more power to control the educational sector in the country. Before such a power is vested with the institution, we need to ask about the existing performance and efficiency with which UGC is handling higher education in India. If there are instances where the UGC can boast on its credentials, the latest move can be accepted. But this being sparse, considering that we have very few educational institutions that can compare its performances with international standards, I believe that the present move is nothing but a transfer of inefficiency from one to another regulator. It is also suspect that the UGC has been directly involved in improving the efficiency of hundreds of institutes offering higher education in India. I can vouch at least for the social sciences, which has moved from a state of utter neglect to total desertion in the hands of this regulator. I would perceive things to have improved in social sciences when students opt less for a course in the US and choose an Indian institution willingly for their higher studies.

The new move is in fact taking the UGC closer to becoming a monopoly regulator. Whatever said and done the apex court’s new ruling is going to weaken any effort at implementing all long needed reforms in education in India by creating monopoly powers. The only way in which reforms have progressed has been by increasing the number of regulations. We need to ask ourselves the question: “what has been lacking in our educational system that such inefficiencies (standards that the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) failed to uphold) crept into it? Would allowing a single apex body cure the malice?

As of now only a few voice have critically examined the long-term impacts of this ruling. Educational sector in India has a lot of short comings. There are more lags than leaps here. Our resources to support the sector has not been the best. And moreover, traditional teaching practices (reading out from the texts, endless lectures etc.) have created clots in the massive and interconnected arterial system. How do we deal with these functional problems? I believe that we need more consultation on methods to improve the sector. For this we need to get the actual stakeholders (including the students) to voice their opinion. To shorten the distance between the UGC and the students/teachers would be the first step. The court of course does not ask the students or the teachers on what is best according to them. No one has represented our direct concerns either. For each of us to represent these concerns to the UGC has been nothing short of a “Chalo Dilli” march by our faculty and directors. The result has been trying and tiring.
Rahul V Kumar