All about quality
The challenge of taking higher education to a level higher than it is
In Higher Education Sector it would be understatement to say that everything is going in a right direction. Problems relating to higher education - privatization and commercialization, political interference and corruption, mismanagement and agitations, falling standards and irrelevance - are topics of daily public discussion. Is it possible to locate some key factors that can explain the mess and disarray present in higher education in the country in general and state of J&K in particular.
The higher education sector became a priority sector in the contemporary era. We have seen that the nations have strengthened their economy and the world class infrastructure only by utilizing their quality brains and skilled manpower. Therefore, skilled manpower is the demand of an era in commercial, corporate, government or at higher education sector. When we speak about quality education at higher level we must focus first towards our states higher educational institutions. Are our educational institutions particularly colleges capable to provide quality education at higher level? Is there sufficient infrastructure and qualified manpower available to provide quality products for the society, in view of the fact that hard and harsh challenges are ahead after every step.
Due to a sustained education campaign and various literacy drives carried by Govt and non-governmental organizations 13% increase in literacy rate has been found in the state from 2001 to 2011.
As indicated by the 2011 census, “The literacy rate in Jammu and Kashmir has increased from 55 percent in 2001 Census to 68 percent in the 2011 Census,” While female literacy has increased from 20 percent in 1981 Census to 43 % in 2001 and 58 percent in 2011, the male literacy has also nearly doubled from 44 percent to 78 percent during the corresponding three decades. Jammu, Samba and Leh district have the highest literacy rates of over 90 percent while Bandipora, Ganderbal, Budgam, Ramban, Kulgam and Reasi have a literacy rate of less than 60 percent.
Remote district Kupwara in north Kashmir has made the biggest strides in improving the literacy rate, moving from 42 percent in 2001 to 68 percent in 2011.
No doubt there is an improvement in literacy rate in the state but questions remain. The standard and quality of education in the state is so poor that it is hard to expect anything extraordinary from our students. If we draw a look towards the infrastructure and human resource available in the higher education institutions of J&K state “quality gap” in both universities and colleges is alarming: 25 percent faculty positions in universities & colleges remain vacant; 60 percent faculty members in colleges do not have either an M Phil or PhD; there is only one computer for 229 students, on an average in colleges. There are fewer opportunities for students to get admissions in Universities, only 14% students get admissions in the Universities and there is no alternative for the rest 88% graduated students in the State.
The quality of higher education depends upon the type of staff development programmes initiated for teachers. It is necessary to introduce quality assessment in staff development to ensure better results in our institutions particularly higher education sector. The policy changes like the free and compulsory education attempt by the government are expected to influence higher education in quantitative terms in future. A big deficiency which hampers higher education sector in Jammu and Kashmir State is that we have a maximum number of faculty positions vacant and courses are mostly run by temporary and contractual teachers who do not have any staff development / training courses vis-à-vis Orientation/Refresher courses and one cannot expect any miracle from them.
Situation is worse in the B.Ed. educational sector in the J&K state. The B.Ed. college sector is the best financial sector and poor educational sector, the B.Ed. institutions are very much underprivileged to provide the education which qualifies all parameters pertaining to Quality Education. Do we expect quality education from those institutions where 99% teachers do not have M.Phil and Ph.D. and have no research experience? 70% colleges do not have sufficient infrastructure which is essential for any institution to run any course. There is no proper faculty development programme, for the faculty members in the B.Ed. education sector.
The quality education is the primary concern of every individual state including Jammu and Kashmir. The development in higher education is mandatory. UGC and HRD Ministry have taken some serious steps for making necessary arrangements for quality education in higher education sector but still there is long way to go.
National Assessment and Accreditation Council accredited 170 Universities and 4684 Colleges as on April 2012. It also reaccredited and re-assessed 72 Universities and 945 colleges throughout the country, including University of Jammu and University of Kashmir. Both Universities acquired grade “A”.
Among all colleges and Universities only 12 percent made the Grade A; 68 percent were B-grade and 20 percent C-grade as per the NAAC methodology for assessment and accreditation for higher educational institutions.
The UGC Chairman says that one key factor behind the quality gap is the under-investment in higher education since 1980s. Between 1951 and 1980, the Government spending on higher education sector grew at the rate of 17 percent, but then it dipped to 10 percent between 1981 to 2003-04. The result, the UGC claims, is that it’s unable to fund 60 percent of colleges and 40 percent of state universities. To improve the situation, the UGC made NAAC assessment and accreditation mandatory.
The J&K state has a little share of 2 state and 2 agricultural Universities, in addition, two newly sanctioned Central Universities, three universities managed by different trusts of the state and a small score of 41 affiliated colleges, reflects a slow increase and less infrastructural development among the higher education sector. Most of our colleges do not have adequate infrastructure and proper accommodation vis-à-vis class rooms.
To get further expansion in higher education sector the government has to take some stern issues correlated to the development of higher education in educationally backward areas with the HRD ministry and UGC. There must be some clear cut policies for the affiliation of private managed colleges especially B.Ed. Colleges to make them accountable for the quality sustenance and quality enhancement for further improvement of the quality education in higher education sector. There are certain other initiatives like adequate infrastructure providing to the higher education institutions, implementing useful and beneficial measures for development of the state’s literacy rate and involvement of common masses for wide spreading of the benefits of higher and quality education to the educationally backward areas and socially underprivileged section of the society. The higher education institution must take adequate benefits from the schemes provided by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and HRD Ministry for higher education institutions, students and researchers, which can help us take our higher education sector towards excellence.
(Wasim Ali is Sr. Computer Assistant in Directorate of Quality Assurance, University of Kashmir, Srinagar, Feedback at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST
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