PEOPLES COUNCIL OF EDUCATION
Peoples Council of Education in association with Indian Institute of Education, Pune proposes to organize a national symposium on ‘ University Education System in India: Shifting Paradigms And Deepening Crisis’from January 16 to 18, 2016 at Pune with a view to developing a better understanding of the challenges facing University Education System in India so that one can move towards evolving an alternative strategies that may better servethe democratic requirements of the nation so as to fulfill the aspirations and creative potentialities of people of India.
Indian Universities were first set up during the colonial period to serve the colonial needs of training students to become bureaucrats. They were not designed to create new socially relevant knowledge through research. They separated research from teaching and emphasized rote learning. The result was the emergence of ‘derived intellectuals’ who recycled western knowledge in Indian institutions of higher learning. Thus, in Gandhi’s words the system of education was alienating.
Other universities that followed the first four were also set up along the same pattern. The best Indian minds during the colonial period were largely trained in the West and they brought with them the framework they imbibed there. Thus, the notion that modernity was ‘Western’ became the dominant theme among the Indian elite. Of course, there were exceptions but they remained that and could not influence the post-independence thinking. So, even though institutions of higher learning proliferated after 1950, they followed the same pattern as during the colonial rule.
Since the system of Higher Education in the country did not change to suit the needs of an independent India, instead of helping resolve the challenges facing the nation it has added to the problems. The System is unable to reform itself in spite of various attempts to do so. Commissions and Committees have looked into the problems confronting the system but the challenge of reform remains unaddressed since those manning the Committees are not willing to think afresh and remain confined to the colonial mold. In this sense the system has reached a dead end.
Instead of developing a new University Education System (UES) rooted in democratic principles and democratic needs, aspirations and ethos/culture of its peoples, India continued functioning with the British Education Systems with some additions. After the Second World War, the USA emerged as the leading power in the world and its universities attracted the best from all over the world and became the source of much creation of new knowledge. The rapidly growing system of higher education in India then started borrowing from the American system. For instance, the Semester Systems, Distance learning and Open Education Systems were introduced to it with great fanfare.
The elite institutes like IITs, IIMs and some central universities adopted Semester Education System. Indira Gandhi National Open University was established following experiment in open education in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Later on each State set up an open university. All states opened correspondence courses or set up institutions for distance education. America has been characterized by the dominance of the market philosophy and this has also penetrated into the Indian system of higher education. Emphasis is shifting to professional courses and away from basic courses. Self-financing courses are being increasingly introduced.
Without giving adequate thought the period for undergraduate degree is sought to be extended from 3 years to 4 years to copy the system in the USA. The Intermediate/Higher Secondary certificate was devalued by introducing Entrance Tests for UG admissions. Of course, IIT’s had done it since their very inception. Even Ph.D. Degree has been devalued by the introduction of the All India National Eligibility Tests in the garb of objectivity. New Form of tests called Olympiad were created for selection of would-be-great young scientists, thereby, debarring the young students from rural areas, lower and poor economic groups. IISER and NISER were created while neglecting universities. Later on Advanced Study Centres were established
First, Teachers Training Programmes were initiated in all the universities and later ‘Contract Teacher System’ on pattern of contract labour was introduced. The New system of so-called scientific method of evaluation of teacher’s performance based on Taylorism was introduced by the UGC. Teachers’ role in teaching is sought to be devalued by introducing mechanical criterion of evaluation of teachers via the API system.
Privatization and commercialization of education was set into motion after the introduction of the market based New Economic Policies (NEP) in 1991. The process of marketization was accelerated after the submission of the Birla-Ambani Report to the PMO in 1999. The Knowledge Commission furthered the cause of privatization in education in India. The result has been the rapid growth of private universities. Deemed institutions with high fees have led to the marginalization of the poor in India, particularly in the field of medicine, engineering, business management and computer science. Mushrooming of coaching institutes all over the country (like in Kota) has marginalized school, college and university education. Privatization has also led to growing corruption in the field of education with question paper leakage, mass cheating, plagiarism and what has been revealed in the Vyapam Scam. Public universities are under attack so that their standards decline and students begin to opt for the private institutions. If good quality public institutions can give cheap education why would anyone go for the high cost private institutions? This is the way government schools were destroyed in the 1980s so that private schools could flourish.
Autonomy of universities has been under attack. Student unions were weakened through Lyndoh Committee. Many universities do not have either teachers or students associations. With increasing role of private institutions in education the democratizing role of universities is on the decline as they are getting organized along class lines. ‘World-class’ is the new phrase for describing class-based structure of Indian universities. The Vice-Chancellors have largely become political agents of ruling political parties. The pressure on faculties is to do consultancies and projects rather than genuine long-term and socially relevant research. The private sector research was to be guided by considerations of short-term profits and influenced by market trends and not long-term social considerations.
As a resultof all these, the social relevance of Higher Education has declined. Continuation of English as the medium of education and research has increased the complexity of the problems faced by students and society. Due to mismanagement and lack of availability of talented faculty, most of the public institutions of higher education have shortage of teachers of up to 40%. While there are islands of excellence, the average quality of research has suffered. Core courses in Sciences and Social Sciences have declined due to the process of marketization. Critique of the existing socio-economic system is not welcome and needs to be suppressed. Consequently, IITs which draw the most talented students in the country contribute little to either development of new technology or to socially relevant solutions to society’s problems. The same is the case with the IIMs and IIITs
Question arises; how have all these trends affected our Education system? Is it in good health? The proposed national symposium will address all such questions objectively and dispassionately.
The proposed national symposium on ‘University Education System: Shifting Paradigms and Deepening Crisis’ seeks to achieve the following objectives:
0301: To critically evaluate the University Education System in India so as to understand the challenges confronting it.
0302: To examine the philosophical/epistemological foundations of University Education System in India.
0303: To determine relevance and efficacy of all forms of reforms introduced in Higher Education System since India’s independence.
0304: To assess the social relevance of the curriculum, pedagogy and medium of education instruction presently.
0305: To assess methods of selection of teachers, working conditions of teachers and congeniality of teaching environment.
0306: To evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the organizational structure and processes in University Education System in India.
0307: To understand assess the nature and extent of crisis in Higher Education System.
0308: To workout an alternate Higher Education System which if implemented can help Peoples of India to overcome the crisis in University Education System and facilitate flowering of creative minds of young students and teachers.
0309: To suggest appropriate policy changes in University Education System.
0310: Any other.
0400 SUB THEMES
The proposed national symposium on ‘University Education System: Shifting Paradigms And Deepening Crisis’ will cover all issues related to it. However, some broad sub-themes are suggested tentatively. Scholars are most welcome to add newer themes/issues and write their papers on the same:
1. Historical and Philosophical Foundation of University Education system in India
2. University education and problems of Social Alienation
3. Linkages between a new democratic political-economic system and University Education System in India
4. Paradigm Shift From Colonial to Non-Colonial or Neo-colonial University Education System.
5. Structure and Processes of University Education System
6. Nature of Autonomy and Accountability in Higher Education
7. Nature of Pedagogy and Curriculum
8. Disciplinary challenges in Higher education; role of inter-disciplinarity.
9. Language of Instruction in Higher Education
10. Problems of access and equity in higher education
11. Research in Universities or in Research Institutes/National/Regional Laboratories under State control
12. Linkages between School Education System and University Education System
13. Role of Students’ unions, Teachers’ unions and Employees’ unions
14. Displacing Teachers via Technology: Teacherless Education through Open Education System and Distant Education System
15. Selection of Teachers and methods of appraisal of Performance of Teachers.
16. Place and relevance of Staff Training Colleges
17. Changing relations between teachers, students and administration.
18. Admission Policy and nature of testing for admission
19. Genesis and role of Coaching Institutes and their impact on University Education System
20. Degrees/Diplomas/Certificates: Their quality and role in signaling to society
21. Relevance and Validity of Examination Systems
22. Commercialisation and Privatisation of University Education System
23. Financing of University Education System: State vs. Private
24. Likely impact of implementation of WTO provisions on higher education in India
25. Impact of Self-Finance Courses on autonomy of Institutions of higher education
26. Problems of Corruption and Capitation fees
27. State andCentral Universities and Colleges: Hierarchy in University Education System and its social impact
28. Advanced Study Departments
29. Governance related issues: Role of Ministry and regulatory bodies
30. Inroads of Foreign Universities into India
31. Any other
The proposed national symposium on ‘University Education System in India: Shifting Paradigms and Deepening Crisis’ will try for 21multidisciplinarity and attempt to be holistic. All those who have an interest in Higher Education system are welcome to submit substantive analytical papers.
0600 SUBMISSION OF PAPERS
Papers in Hindi or English within 7000 words along with their abstracts within 200 words are cordially invited from all concerned. Abstracts of papers will be received till November 30, 2015 and full paper by December 15, 2015.
Papers will be reviewed and the authors of those papers that are accepted will be informed and they will be invited to come to the Symposium.