Hi-lo of higher education

Although the issues of education in the current scenario across the nation are being raked by public speakers of standing in society in a wide range, from being taken by people at large in all seriousness to being dismissed lightly, one may be permitted to begin this column with a light-hearted humour: “How did the student reach his classroom in the high school? He used a ladder.” Labouring the point hidden in the message of the humorous route to portray the much-talked-about declining standards of teaching at all levels, one is prompted to remark, in all seriousness, that a taller ladder may be required to pursue higher education. If that were made possible the leading lights in society from the academia may rest a while without cracking their heads to address the matter of (a) changing the education system and (b) achieving the desired quality of teaching nationally, notwithstanding the fact that the latter makeover is already happening in the country in some pockets. Two such instances may be witnessed in Manipal and Pilani.

Whether the current system, whichever way and to whatever depth its nuances are understood by people of various backgrounds, it cannot be gainsaid that quality of teaching and the system at large are as different as chalk and cheese. In any case, the system is well on its way generating educated citizens in humongous quantity year on year, leaving the quality to itself.

A renowned teacher of a Bengaluru-based educational institution, who was revered by both his large number of students and society at large during his days brought out a booklet titled “Don’t accept anything without questioning.” His valued prescription fits eminently well to many views concerning primarily the system of education. One such most often view expressed by persons with unquestionable credentials is that the present budget for education is too unviable, the allocation for higher education in this year’s Union budget being 0.8 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. The Constitutional provision of education to be a concurrent subject (both Central government and State governments having jurisdiction to pass laws and take decisions) prompts one to recall the idiom Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Suggestions on changing the education scene of the nation for the better have come aplenty from various quarters. Some of them have roots in many decisions to suit the interests of law-makers of the day. In the meantime, the more eloquent critics of hi-lo of higher education in the country shall be debating the issues till the cows come home as it were.

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