The Rot In The System 

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In the present political dispensation many initiatives were taken to revamp the Education system of Kashmir, Amanjeet Singh here dwells deep into the ...

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In the present political dispensation many initiatives were taken to revamp the Education system of Kashmir, Amanjeet Singh here dwells deep into the promises of neta’s only to find the rot is intact.

Photo: The Legitimate

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In his three years of gaining a graduation degree, Altaf (not real name) has attended the English lecturers occasionally.  Though he loved learning more about grammar, his teacher spend all time on discussing the exercises at the end of chapter. In three years of his time spent in Degree College Sumbal, he “studied” to just pass the exam depending upon the “English guides” produced by different publishing houses which according to Altaf does not possess the quality material for appearing in University level examinations. He has no choice.

“The whole education system is rotten,” right from recruiting the teachers to the academic session to declaration of results,” says Altaf adding I have been observing all this and repenting the decision of staying back in Kashmir for higher education.  He has many reasons.

The crucial academic time of first year in 2014 was hit by floods, assembly and parliamentary elections. Not only was the polling station established at schools, both times, the Electronic Voting Machines were kept in the college premises which led to closure of college for around two months. Even 50 percent of syllabus was not completed and we appeared in the examinations. The second year suffered due to official apathy. Our classes started in June and examinations were conducted by the university within six months. In third year, public uprising suspended the college activities, Altaf explains.

Till now, the semester system introduced last year has been a failure. In one year only one semester has been completed though results are awaited,” Azhar, a second semester student said adding going by the pace we will complete our three year degree courses in six years.

The level of quality teaching has been extremely low, especially in languages.  The colleges are facing acute shortage of teaching staff. A college with student strength of more than 1500 has merely 14 permanent faculty members, even less than the number of departments it operates. However, government recruits lecturers for a year to fill the gap.

The contractual appointments have affected the learning process in the higher education institutes of the valley. Though almost every district has two degree colleges, government has miserably failed to appoint the professors for the same. Though, no study has suggested the actual numbers, roughly it can be estimated that colleges in the state need around 1800 permanent faculty members in 92 colleges of the state.  

While the Former Education Minister, Naeem Akhter tried to “revolutionize” the education scenario of the state, he, too, failed to bring some commendable changes. His vision of transforming the state’s educational institutes into entrepreneurship hub fall flat on the ground even when the basic educational set-up is in shambles.

The press note by state’s information issued on Jan 2, 2017 reads that: “Government College for Women Gandhi Nagar, Jammu and Government College for Women Nawakadal, Srinagar today arrived at the residences of Jammu and Kashmir Governor, N N Vohra, the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti and the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh with bouquets and New Year gifts designed and prepared by the students of these colleges themselves under the Skill Development Initiative ‘HUNAR’ launched earlier this year,”

While a report carried by the The Tribune on the next day (Jan 3, 2017) showed that Government College of Women Gandhi Nagar lacks basic facilities like laboratories. The self study report prepared  by college for National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore, states that the independent departmental infrastructure of the college is deficient and faculty members are frequently transferred. As far as laboratories/classrooms are concerned, they are less to accommodate increasing number of students over period of time. The report also pointed out less sports infrastructure in comparison to number of students in the college. The college authorities stress on the introduction of new undergraduate, postgraduate and honours courses in future and creation of modern teaching ambience, smart classrooms and laboratories.

While, the concept of nurturing entrepreneurs without providing the basic infrastructure and faculty to the colleges seems illogical because government has failed to maintain the good number of professors which has affected the learning process. Naeem Akhter could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

While state has appointed a Nodal colleges and Officers for recruiting the contractual lecturers, candidates’ alleges rules are bent for appointing blue-eyed candidates.

“Though there is transparency in the merit list, but the rules for appointing the lecturers are different from Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission and University Grants Commission guidelines,” explains an applicant.

“The experience gained from outside state universities and colleges is not considered here, which is a clear violation. Even PSC says that experience gained from reputed and affiliated colleges is to be considered,” he says

“Those who ask for considering the teaching experience gained from the outside state are the anti-social elements and you are also among them. Who are you journalists to question us?

While the nodal agency says they have instructions from the government not to include the teaching experience gained from the outside state institutions. 

“Those who ask for considering the teaching experience gained from the outside state are the anti-social elements and you are also among them. Who are you journalists to question us?”  Prof. (Dr.) Muhammad Aslam Baba Nodal Officer / Principal Amar Singh College, Srinagar shouts when asked to comment.

When asked which government agency have directed not to include the outside state teaching experience, he did not gave a satisfactory answer, “You are not my boss,” he said

Another official flaunted: “We do not consider even IIT’s or JNU’s experience.”

The problem, Altaf, explained is not the mere qualification; here you see the problem is the experience. The first time appointed contractual staff often lacks experience of handling the class and art of delivering the lecture. The issue should be understood as contractual appointments, but the wisdom behind recruiting them.

Minister of State, Education, Priya Sethi and Director Colleges, Higher Education Department Renu Goswamy pleaded ignorance over the matter.

The University of Kashmir has also left no stone unturned to bring the education system of affiliated colleges to standstill.

“Till now, the semester system introduced last year has been a failure. In one year only one semester has been completed though results are awaited,” Azhar, a second semester student said adding going by the pace we will complete our three year degree courses in six years.

The students who were admitted in the year 2015 have been able to complete only two semesters in two years.

University of Kashmir (KU) and University of Jammu has been ranked 73 and 63 respectively in the National Institute of Ranking Framework report released on Monday, there is nothing much to “celebrate”.

Only two universities from the state have been able to make to the list, the neighbouring states have better score to show. From the neighbouring Punjab five universities have shown better performance.

While going into details of parameters for the ranking University of Kashmir has scored 0.10 out of 100 in the perception parameter. It includes: Peer Perception: Employers and Research Investors (PREMP) Peer Perception: Academics (PRACD) Public Perception (PRPUB) Competitiveness (PRCMP).  In other parameters, too there is nothing much to flaunt when other state’s universities have performed better. In-fact there is nothing to even show.

The story appeared in print edition of  April 4-11, 2017.

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