Bureaucratic hurdles have slowed down the process of teacher appointments in several colleges

“Higher education in India suffers from quality deficit” the UGC admits in its compilations on approach to the Twelfth Five Year Plan (FYP).It goes on to further identify that “the toughest challenge of excellence lies in improving the quality of teaching-learning in a majority of non-elite universities and colleges.”

The approach paper was readied by professors who have spent decades in universities. The working group laments that notwithstanding the 11th FYP upping the allocations nine times more than the 10th FYP, there remains a deficit in quality.

It also points out that, “... much of the resources allocated could not be utilised fully... for a variety of reasons.”This includes the apathy of bureaucrats. Having done its job for three years and more, the UGC wanted to assess its impact on quality through agencies like the NAAC.

NAAC's reach

By June 2010, less than 25 per cent of all colleges and universities were accredited. NAAC in its 17 years of existence could assess and accredit nearly 1,415 colleges out of a total of 31,324 colleges in the country. It could touch only 75 of the 534 universities. Of these assessed establishments, only 45 per cent of colleges and 30 per cent of universities rank grade ‘A’.

Solutions

The working group suggests some solutions to enhance quality. It feels that structural amendments to University Acts should be made. No university should have more than 50 affiliated colleges and 50,000 students enrolled. Courseware development and the setting up of a National Educational Resource Portal must be made mandatory. Information and library networks must be extended to all colleges with 12(B) status.

The working group also suggests enhancing teacher and student mobility. Twenty per cent of teachers and 20 per cent of students in any establishment must be from other States. International hostels must be constructed if a minimum of 50 students from foreign countries are present.

Through an amendment to the UGC Act, from the present 6,811 colleges, 20,000 government and aided colleges must be brought under the 12(B) status for UGC funding. The Working Group paper also talks about the student-teacher ratio, without giving the broad framework.

Mandatory accreditation on subject-specific lines, creation of resource portals with easy access, structural amendments to prune universities, and insisting on Refresher Course/Orientation Course programmes are no doubt welcome. But all these are secondary before the dire need of a teacher in a classroom.