Walk into your college like you usually do, considering the day to be of normal routine. However to your surprise, there are people who you have probably never seen before, sincerely working on making your college look good. Painting of buildings goes on full-fledged, new carpets are brought in and the staff is seen running errands. Such last-minute touch-ups become inevitable in college campuses. There you are still wondering why all of this is going on and the news reaches you… It’s Inspection time! You are still left baffled, as you don’t really see the point! Not like people are going to ask us for an opinion anyway. While this is how most colleges work, there are a few who still live up to the Gandhian dream of Truth. No matter how much make up a blobfish (please Google) gets it will still be a blobfish and a dolphin a dolphin! All last-minute make-up fades away with the first rain.

Do colleges draw a line when it comes to what to do and not to do during an inspection or do they get carried away with the fact that a team is coming to inspect? However, a student from one of the colleges in the city feels the administration takes things much too seriously, “We had drills every day before the inspection phase, we were also reminded about the kind of clothes to wear (kurtas only please!) and how to behave, so many new things came up all of a sudden, everything seemed so fake!”

Overall betterment

While this is the case in most colleges, Sophia College for Women, Mumbai, begs to differ. Mariam Abraham says, “The college keeps improving itself throughout the year and working on changes that it think are required, be it for the students or the overall betterment of the college. There is never any drastic change made just because inspection is close. Also, we are never informed about the committee members visiting the college. Therefore, the entire idea of changing our behaviour when they are around does not apply.”

An educational institution is where a student learns, not just from the books and lectures but also from every tiny detail that lies around so visible for the eyes to see. What is seen is learned, picked up and maybe used in the years to come. If this is what colleges have to offer — hide, cover up all the dirt just a layer below, for two to three days and then get back to what it used to be, then education from these institutions make no sense. What happened to all that ‘stand up for what you believe in’ statement most institutions throw at students on the first day of the orientation programme? Is this the belief they were talking about.

Stop gap?

This whole stop-gap approach of changing ourselves and putting up a new face only when the inspectors are doing the rounds is what spoils the country’s reputation too. People are just used to touching things up for the short-run and this leads to entire buildings falling down in the long run. Except to throw dust in the eyes of the inspectors, they are not teaching their students any good value through this.

The solution comes from the students themselves, who wish to see their colleges in good light. Says Abigail Sunithi, M.O.P Vaishnav College, “We have always maintained the college throughout the year; technology is always updated and is of the latest too, I don’t really remember any last-minute changes occurring.”

There are some institutions who use the visit as an added incentive to improve a little more than normally required. And there are those who are already so perfect that they do not need to change at all as they believe they are perfect. It is the ones who change everything just for a few days and put up a face to hoodwink the inspectors that need to look within and see if this is the right approach. It might be working for them, but does it really help their students?

Any celebration calls for a little bit of tinkering here and there, some paint and shopping too! No one builds a new house a day or so before the D day; if only our institutions remembered the same. To those that remain the same, inspection or not and still grow, celebrations come every day!

The writers are doing II M.A. Communication, Madras Christian College