We should try to upgrade each college with public-private participation

The first decade of this century in India will be known for educational innovation and turmoil. The latest in the series is the proposal for opening foreign universities in India. The Prime Minister initiated a 100-day plan. All ministries gave a road map of progress. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was the fastest at least in the number of proposals. Once the foreign universities bill becomes law, foreign universities can open their appendages in India. It is true that the entrance of youth in higher education in India is much below the percentage in other developed and developing countries. We have to think something immediately, but is the opening of foreign universities the only option to expand our higher education?

Some questions need to be answered before we proceed. Is it really going to fulfil our needs? Will it really improve the quantity and quality of the teaching-learning process? Will it not produce a handful of youths who will further fulfil the desire of Macaulay who said: “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern — a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and intellect.”

If they will not take profits to their countries, what for will they come here? Will they do some social work or start a new wave of missionary schools where nothing will be Indian? What is the guarantee that only the best in the world will come here and, that too, not for profit making?

What is the certainty that they will not dilute the quality of teaching on the pretext that here the school background is very poor? Will they start all the faculties, traditional and modern, or will they will start where there is demand — institutions of engineering, medicine, and business administration and not of philosophy, literature, history and culture. Granted that they start schools to teach traditional subjects, will they teach Indian philosophy, literature, history and culture or some other philosophy, literature, history and culture? Will Indians teach Indian philosophy and history or the people of the mother universities will teach these subjects? If admission is going to be made only on the basis of money, will below average students not selected by Indian universities be admitted?

If so, how will the quality of higher education improve? Will a person with inferior calibre vaunt the degree of a so-called superior university? What are we going to do to fill the vast gap between demand and supply? Have we accepted defeat on the educational front that we cannot manage our own affairs, and that we cannot improve the quality of higher education?

Education is a serious matter. It requires sincere efforts and devotion. Nothing is lost yet. We should try to upgrade each college, technical and non-technical, with public-private participation. Upgrading of mind and material with local resources is needed. In the early days, Nehru started, with public participation, great institutions such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences. He too was concerned about the need and pace for higher education.

(email: em_p_sinha @yahoo. co.in)


Vacation with a social touch May 19, 2010

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