needs re-look

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Jan 2019 12:20:22

EVEN as the Union Cabinet’s approval of an outlay of Rs. 3,600 crore to set up 13 new central universities in the next 36 months needs to be celebrated, the need to have a fresh look at the overall university education in the country also shouts for attention. There is little doubt that the proposed central universities will bring some better quality of infrastructure, instrument and instruction to higher learning in the country. Yet, as this process gets underway, it is utterly necessary for us to consider ways and means to raise the general standard of university education. For, what is available currently by way of general education in our universities is something that falls too short by global standards. This makes it imperative for us to take a fresh look at what we are doing on our campuses and what we should be doing actually. 

One of the foremost lacunae in our universities is absence of funds in appropriate measure. That is the reason why our universities are not able to send out into the world young people with desirable virtues to be useful to the larger society far beyond the requirement for employment. This has been happening primarily because at some point in time in the past two-three decades, some smart alec shifted the focus of higher learning to the purpose of ensuring employment. As a result of that flawed thinking, we allowed the element of classicism to slip out of the window and did not mind the entry of certain commercial crassness in its place.

Anybody who understands what education should be in true sense will realise what kind of damage we have caused to our university education. The difficulty with such an approach is that when a society gives an open burial to classicism, as we did in our universities in the past quarter of a century or more, the overall quality slipped from our grip. Our universities have suffered from this lacuna to a very dangerous extent.

When the Government proposes setting up of as many as 13 central universities in the next three years, we must tell ourselves that we do not need only islands of excellence as showpieces; instead, we need an all-pervading culture of excellence to grace our campuses. Employment-orientation is all right, but we can only ill-afford to forget the great role classicism plays in genuine learning that enables the individual students to gain appropriate skill sets to secure jobs as well for themselves. If the Government gives a sincere and serious consideration to this ideal, even as it sets up 13 central universities, it will do a tremendous service to the national cause of higher learning in the country. No matter some defects that may naturally creep into government-run educational institutions, the national experience is that central institutions of higher education adhere to better standards of teaching-learning process, in addition to better infrastructure. This truth makes it necessary for the country’s education-planners to start thinking of ways and means to inject higher doses of classicism in all universities, stretching well beyond just employment-orientation.

This is not an attempt to build a utopia; this is an effort to regain the sense of correct purpose of education which otherwise our universities seem to have lost in general, a few exceptions apart. Universal experience favours classicism in education at all levels. All over the world, educational institutions of repute have one thing in common -- an uncompromising commitment to classical approach to teaching-learning process in which libraries, laboratories, play-fields, museums and theatres and studios of arts and literature are integral parts of the overall system. The need of the hour is to work for creation of such an educational ecosystem where learning will not just be a meaningful but also a pleasurable experience essential to good life.