It is quite perplexing for me that why we are not able to bring a fundamental change in the present education system.

Everyone is speaking the chorus for a total overhauling of the present system. So many Commissions, so many reports! But yet the ground reality is the same. Over 40000 colleges, 1000 universities in the country more or less follow the same pattern except with a few peripheral changes here and there. There have been a few experimentations tried. But the cascading impact of new thinking has not been significant.

Sometimes I wonder about our wisdom in identifying a vision for us. Even if we are capable of raising a slogan and proudly declare that it is our vision, the concept clarity and the conviction are missing. The mission is a non-starter. I may sound pessimistic but my intentions are to challenge the stakeholders to seriously ponder over ideas and plunge into action. If ideas do not get crystallized, do not transform in to realistic action plans, the loud thinking remains and the life moves on. This is exactly what is happening, groping in darkness without reckoning what light is all about.

Knowledge is the sole source of human empowerment. We have attempted umpteen number of definitions what education is all about. Nevertheless, the situation remains the same. If we carefully analyse how education has evolved, we see a clear pattern. The source of knowledge is not the monopoly of a few; it gradually has emerged through a process of democratization. Higher education gives you the ability to critically examine life for effective decision making. Some people may understand it in terms of your rational ability to decide about what is good or bad. We have added new dimensions in the present day system. We expect the learner not only to be knowledgeable but equally skillful for making a decent living. If this is our objective then we have to answer a few fundamental questions. What, when and how you are going to bring a desirable change.

No one can say that the trodden path of education system is worthless. We are all the products of the same system. But all of us in one voice are saying that both sides of the coin should be equally focused. The teacher should be more resourceful and the taught should become knowledgeable and skillful. Half-hearted measures will become counterproductive. We are more concerned about the curriculum and the teaching methodologies. Using technology with half baked knowledge does not make wonders. Quality of education cannot be measured by electronic gadgets and glorified infrastructure. We have forgotten the learner in the name of offering excellent facilities. We need clarity on what the taught is expected to put in. Is it a few examinations are beyond it?  Everyone claims that the affiliating system does not offer the leverage to bring in desired changes. Yet it is amusing that no serious effort has been made for accepting a change. Our mindset is so stubborn that inward looking attitude is devoid of ability of accommodating new ideas.

Autonomous colleges were brought in as a new experiment for bringing in innovativeness. The underlying idea was freedom with flexible operations. UGC (University Grants Commission of India) was quite ambitious to make 10% of the colleges autonomous by laying more and more emphasis in successive Plans. But there is reluctance to adapt to the new realities. Rather people have become skeptical in the name of accountability. This is our basic problem. We do not trust ourselves. Our own integrity is always under scanner. Are we not hypocritical to avoid responsibilities when given? I am at a loss to understand why many colleges should not become autonomous or even degree awarding colleges. Private Universities, Deemed Universities, Foreign Universities and such models cannot be prevented. It is better that we keep ourselves in the race before it is too late.

I sincerely feel that the time is opportune for making perceptible changes. The pay scales and service conditions of university and college teachers were never have been so good. A big chunk of teachers may be outside it. But the pressure is always on the establishment to improve the teaching-learning environment by offering better pay and service conditions. If this opportunity is missed, I don’t think we do justice for what we are.

The teacher should have passion for teaching and continually explore the possibility of enhancing resourcefulness. Reading habit is one great strength for any teacher. If we stop reading, it is a disaster. Technology is a facilitator. Why should we exhibit our ignorance? The students must be made to work independently with necessary inputs. New knowledge can be created only through such a process. Learning will be more effective if hands on experience are offered. This is exactly the reason why we need to restructure our education system. Our three major system needs a review. This is not possible if we become self-centered.

The society plays the role of a facilitator. Unless there is external intervention, new thinking may not emerge. There is nothing wrong in planning. The State has many new ideas. What is disappointing is the inability of the State to put emerging ideas in to practice. Education does not happen through anxious teachers and nervous students. This is where the society should play its role. I am confident that united teachers can always put pressure on the society. Let us open ourselves for we should not be held responsible for failing 50 years from now.


Former President-AMUCT &FUCTAK

Registrar, St.Aloysius College (Autonomous), Mangalore

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