College autonomy NEP-2020’s finest attraction: Academicians

Former Chairman NIOS, Prof Chandra Bhushan Sharma who was the keynote speaker on the occasion said that autonomy was the backbone of education, particularly higher education.
Former Chairman NIOS, Prof Chandra Bhushan Sharma who was the keynote speaker on the occasion said that autonomy was the backbone of education, particularly higher education.Special arrangement

Baramulla: The speakers at a conference on National Education Policy (NEP)-2020 Wednesday highlighted the challenges and reforms of institutional autonomy noting that college autonomy was the finest attraction brought in by the NEP.

They were speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day national conference on ‘Challenges and Reforms of Institutional Autonomy in light of NEP-2020’ organised by the Government Degree College (GDC), Baramulla.

The speakers said that the subordination of the colleges to the University of Kashmir (KU) and the University of Jammu (JU) had adversely impacted the colleges in deciding on their academic freedom over the past many years.

Former Chairman NIOS, Prof Chandra Bhushan Sharma who was the keynote speaker on the occasion said that autonomy was the backbone of education, particularly higher education.

“It must be accepted that our institutions do not have the level of autonomy that academic institutions require to generate new knowledge through autonomy which academia professes to serve the society and humanity,” he said.

Prof Sharma who is also one of the authors of the NEP document said autonomy had been mostly misunderstood.

“Autonomy can be of the institutions, the academic administrators, the classroom teachers, and also autonomy of the learners,” he said.

He said that the NEP-2020 had tried to handle this issue from the Bhartiya perspective.

“Institutional autonomy is supreme. Radhakrishnan Commission has explained institutional autonomy in its report, which will become a reality after the implementation of the NEP (as mentioned in Chapter 19 of NEP) and the repealing of the acts of various regulatory authorities which have been created in the 50 years or so (as mentioned in Chapter 18 of NEP 2020)," he said.

Director Colleges J&K, Prof Yasmeen Ashai in her presidential address said that J&K had taken a lead in the implementation of NEP-2020 from the current academic session and it would reap its benefits as well.

She said autonomy should not be considered freedom but autonomous institutions should have accountability as well.

Principal GDC Baramulla, Prof Farooq Ahmad Rather in his welcome address spoke about autonomy as an essential paradigm of NEP-2020.

He said under the NEP-2020 scheme, UGC assures an autonomous college to be self-governing, and self-supporting although under the accountable supervision of the government and the affiliating university.

“The autonomous college though initially fully government aided needs to shift towards partially aided and finally to unaided and self-financing institute,” he said.

During the technical session chaired by Director Centre for Career Planning and Counseling (CCPC), KU Prof Geer Muhammad Ishaq, the speakers spoke in detail about the challenges and reforms of the institutional autonomy in light of NEP-2020.

Principal SP Colleges Srinagar, Prof Khurshid Ahmad Khan said that UNESCO had defined institutional autonomy as a degree of self-governance necessary for effective decision-making by institutions of higher education regarding their academic work standards, management, and related activities.

“This implies that institutional autonomy is a concept that doesn’t limit it to only designing academic curriculum but goes beyond to manage finance and control,” he said.

Khan said that while NEP-2020 focuses on institutional autonomy for the reformation of education, there were several challenges posed to it.

“The major challenges include achieving Equity, Excellence, Employability, and Expansion. To overcome these challenges, academic institutions need to overcome the shortage of staff, quality of staff, gender equity, equal opportunities, and autonomy to generate finances,” he said.

Consultant NEP-2020 at KU, Prof Muhammad Ashraf said that the curricular framework in the Four Year Undergraduate Programme (FYUGP) in the KU-affiliated colleges has been proposed to be implemented with slight modifications.

“The modifications were made given some exigencies, especially concerning the block of first three semesters where some laboratory and activity-based components have been added in the major, minor, and skill components,” he said.

Head of the Physics Department, Prof Tariq Ahmad Chalkoo presented the vote of thanks.

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