The HigherEd Fiasco in India

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The ultimate purpose of education is to make one competent enough to make a life with meaning. For sure, this meaning cannot be attained in life if we fail to arrange the 'means' to sustain. If education fails, even slightly, to equip us with employability and a personal utility, then it is surely a failure, nothing else. 

Higher Education has a lot of data to boast of its favours on us. We are all alive, maybe because the great HigherEd has kept us busy with degree after degree sans any real utility of it. Tough words here are meant to shake the edifice of EduBusiness which has failed us. Being a teacher in the HigherEd for more than 13 years, I have some close observations and open opinions about the gaps enforced on the learning and demand efforts. We studied something which was least asked for by the employers. These words might not be true to the fullest  Let me be strong enough to say that these are the true words. Everybody in Higher Education (University/College & count the Senior Secondary classes as well) talks about what is needed; no one knows How this 'WHAT' will be imparted to the youngsters in the classrooms. In spite of a huge number of dropouts after school education, we credit this to economic reasons or social backwardness. Seldom we see that HigherEd degrees are not lucrative due to their continuous failure to give sensible employability (I am avoiding the terms - Jobs or Employment). Virtue is more important than the end. 

We know, by heart and by the openly available information, even on the global levels, there has been a slowdown in education. Most particularly, the university and college level education has failed to meet the standards set by their own policymakers and planners. The evidence is there when we see them switching from the service motto to the 'Selling' Motives. The Survival-of-the-fittest is the call now. Look at the Indian private Universities and even colleges - that is enough to say what has left of Education in the HigherEd. These rants need to be rational, and the best justification can be the experience.

It was all good with the mirage until the clouds of crisis came and broke it into pieces. It was too fragile to face the truth. The actuality of the scenario was that there were no safeguards in the system. I have been through this for more than a decade. What I have to boast of has come from Higher Education only. Teaching started with a polytechnic but the actual experience of teaching was in the classrooms of Amity University Noida. Starting with MBA Final year and then getting to teach the MBA First year, M Tech, MSc, B Tech, B Sc, B Arch and Other Grad-PostGrads, defined me as a teacher. I count those years as the formative and the 07 years remain precious. But what I have got to see in the second half of the second decade of the 21st century is worrisome.
The decline in the quality of teaching and learning had always been happening. But the extremities crossed their own benchmarks when testing times came. There was a boom in the innovative tools and technologies for education. HigherEd did not buy that idea. K-12 had a sincere purpose to spend on these resources and advancements. Of course, what they bought was sold to parents who have always had ambitions. But, HigherEd failed to see for who they exist or to whom they are responsible. These rants aren't because of my being into K-12 now. Teachers particularly the ones who are there for Communication Skills, Languages or other 'utility' subjects cannot be caged into these categories. So, HigherEd and K-12 marked themselves as distinctive species by their conduct. (Not to miss a pain area - Teachers are provided to K-12 by HigherEd only- so we land on the same square one!)
The former took to business and blindness whereas the other kept eyes open to their stakeholders. Money did flow to school education. HigherEd fails to attract by means of their own disoriented deeds. If one does not see any utility of a degree; if it remains a mere paper with no guarantee of employability, who will spend a hefty amount?
The Haves and Have-nots are not just the ones who Pay and Fail to Pay. Who Learns and Who Fails to Learn is also a new world in itself now. Unfortunately, this new is not a brave world. The trouble goes deep inside the visions and minds who lead the HigherEd. The marketing and branding of a college or a university have such budgets that we wonder what is left for learning. In Govt Universities and colleges, most of the budgetary liability is of the salaries to be paid to professors and alike. In private, money is meant for expansion. I shall not say that the HigherEd system is bad or corrupt or a failure. But I cannot deny the signs of this either. We do see hundreds of institutions failing and at the same time, millions are 'incapable' to grab a job, which is actually meant for them (as the course claims). Where does the gap-creator is then? It is among us, within the ambit of our own knowledge of the HigherEd.

Good Teachers who have something to offer are either forced out or find it really tough to survive. The former is a tag for me and the latter I label on a close friend of mine. The offering from my side had always been that of use, benefit, utility and profit as well. Every day everyone calls for Communication Skills; every day the employers deny and tend to say that it can wait. What does not wait is the number of publications and patents. They are mad after numbers because that is what the Ranking and Policy-Making Agencies ask for. Don't be surprised to find out that the above two give a damn about students and teachers. Ranking or grants or awards are all based on number game.

The corrective actions shall include a very very liberal readiness to acknowledge that they are failing, not as an institution, but as the custodians of learning. Education is not necessarily 'Learning' in their cases. My subject and learning area has been communication skills, and I know it has been really tough to earn the 'CAPS' for this Life-Skill Subject. communication skills need to be seen as Communication Skills. Teachers need to ensure they are equipped enough to deliver learning while the curriculum is completed for the sake of degrees. 

Solutions do have a presence and are quite here already. The corrective, as well as preventive actions, shall come when we see the big-wigs acknowledge there is something to correct. 

I pray for the Eyes to Open and Minds to Matter! A Day when Learning shall be the sole motto and motive!

Amen

About the Author
Author: Parveen Sharma
'You Create Yourself' is the belief that drives the EklavyaParv Life Long Learning Mission. The trilogy of Enhance-Empower-Encourage motivates us and we share learning contents on Communication Skills, EdTech, Life Skills, Blended & Innovative Learning and Insights about Education. These resources are Open Educational Resources (OERs) under CC-BY-NC-SA licence. Parveen is an EdTech Evangelist and has been working in the field of Innovation-driven Education for more than a decade. He writes and delivers training on EduSoMedia, E-Learning, OERs, MOOCs, EdTech, ICT, Blended and Flipped Learning, Academic Intervention, Classroom Makeover, Employability Enhancement, EdTech and Teacher-Student Learning. EklavyaParv is the celebration of his belief in the Learning Spirit of Mankind!

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