The Education Mafiosi is turning the temples of learning into education shops. There are 21 fake universities, 340 private institutions run unaccredited courses and merely 4352 universities and colleges, out of 31,000, are accredited. The scenario is grim. Here’s an in-depth report by Ratan.
The higher education commission recently released a list of 21 ‘fake universities’. Technical schools named 340 private institutions across India that runs courses without its accreditation. Of more than 31,000 higher education institutions, only 4,532 universities and colleges are accredited.
The aim of education nowadays is very much confusing. As in the play of Ibsen, The Master Builder, produced by Ralph Fiennes, Aline , the wife of Solness, a professional architect says that her vocation is building like her husband. It is not building houses, but ‘building up the souls of little children’. Now, the teachers in schools have forgotten this obligation. They do not feel inspired to commit themselves to the development of souls. They are busier in motivating them for smart jobs and lucrative career options. University is a part of an ambitious plan in India to expand higher education to the most destitute corners, where the country’s vast population of young people is concentrated. Of 1.25 billion Indians, one third is under the age of 14. There is realisation that the youth bulge might be an asset in India’s drive to become a world power or a disaster that drains its resources and fuels social unrest. The government has responded with an ambitious university building spree. Engineering colleges and institutes have a mushroom growth. In India, dozens of new public universities are opening. Officials say 374 new ‘model colleges’, meant as demonstration projects, shall be constructed in remote areas. The plan is to increase the post secondary enrolment rate for 18 to 23-year-olds to 30 per cent, from the 18 per cent, by 2017, said Ved Prakash, chairman of India’s University Grants Commission.
It is pitiful but true that our academic institutions have become shops for jobs. India’s university system is in a deep crisis. In 2010, a government probe revealed that the state-run Rayalaseema University in southern India had awarded 2,660 doctorate degrees in just two years for subjects not taught there. It is really unfortunate to know that huge money of the government is spent for combating rural illiteracy by boosting primary school education. The private sector has filled the gap for colleges. Even so, many of India’s colleges and universities — both private and public — face acute shortages of faculty, ill-equipped libraries, outdated curricula and poor infrastructure. But there are some more vicious circles, which jeopardise the progress of education at every level.
In the booming New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, call centres and glitzy malls coexist with a large number of one-room shops offering degrees in engineering, management, pharmacy, nursing and computers through online courses with state and private universities. Workers roam the alleyways handing out pamphlets that promise quick and easy degrees. Cent percent guarantee is announced by the study centres, which are often without any basic infra-structures. Who usually crowd these shops of learning? It’s obviously those who do not want to study and to get the degree. A business management degree or a law degree by two sitting or one sitting and the huge amount is coaxed up.
Brochures from private and government-run universities are given to the candidates with promises to provide business management degree to hand from a reputed university that these study centres are affiliated to. One may go abroad, apply for jobs with these degrees, as the certificate will not even mention the words ‘distance education’. Now, who will monitor these study centres? The state and central government cannot abdicate its responsibility in creating knowledge. At least all cannot be handed over to profiteering businessmen. Many sell their houses even and encash life’s earning in fixed deposits for sending their children abroad. Colleges or universities have virtually become private shops.
Colleges and schools on unconventional subjects are being opened by flouting norms. Many are adopting courses without even taking necessary approval or accreditation from the government regulations. The enrolment rate is 23 per cent in China and 34 per cent in Brazil. India aims to raise its college enrolment rate to 21 percent in five years, up from 13 per cent now. But universities and colleges cannot play with the dreams of the young millions. Great anxiety prevails and the young people lose all directions.
Rama Lakshmi, who is a staff writer and India social media editor for Post World, in a recent write up in the Washington Post, rightly warns us about the dangers of such proliferation of fake institutes and education shops. She focused on more than five million Indians, who enter the 15-to-24 age group every year, adding a demographic thrust to the demand for more colleges and universities. She said, “Properly educated and employed, these young people could bring the country a demographic dividend, the sort of surge in growth that buoyed many of the ‘Asian tiger’ economies, from the 1960s to the 1990s. But, if India does not create high-quality colleges for its youths, it risks reaping a demographic disaster.”
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Ratan is a bilingual writer and academician, he is Associate Professor and head of English literature in Motijheel College, Kolkata. He is a guest faculty at Rabindra Bharati University and a
member of the advisory board of International Theodore Dreiser Society, USA. He is the founder
director of the Dattani Archive and Research Association (DARA), Kolkata. He edits a journal,
authored several books, published poems and writes for several webzines. His book of love poems for his wife was translated into Assamese. He is also is a social media buff.