Featured Image: A poster depicting the 2014 Hok Kolorob agitation of Jadavpur University. Image courtesy: hokkolorob.org
NEXT BENGAL BEST BENGAL
OT quite sure how many of us had cared to take note of the Youth Development Report, the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development had brought out in 2012. This is despite there being some startling revelations that should have made all of us very concerned.
Amongst other things, the report had found out that 96 per cent of youths in West Bengal do not consider teachers as role models and 92 per cent of them do not get support from teachers or educational institutes.
Three years down the line, in 2015, the scenario does not appear to have got any better. Rather, it is deteriorating further!
So much so that the students of Bengal’s elite Presidency University are now following the precedence of their counterparts from Jadavpur in demanding the removal of their vice- chancellor, albeit on varied grounds.
The agitating students opine that the Presidency VC Anuradha Lohia is not doing enough to retain quality teachers, who have now taken an outbound flight not very long after they had come here. The students are also furious over the VC bending low to the state government ~ quite literally.
If this happens at the Taj of Bengal’s higher education, imagine the hapless condition of the other universities in the state that have colleges affiliated to them. Most of these varsities are under-staffed at the PG faculty level.
Over and above, PG courses are being started in the affiliated colleges despite them lacking in infrastructure and faculty strength. Yet in such a handicapped ambiance, we expect the students to improve in the knowledge of science, philosophy, and humanities!
Who or what is to be blamed for this?
Under Graduate courses for our colleges and varsities are formulated by Board of UG Studies that are comprised of university and college professors; Post Graduate courses are formulated by PG Boards of the respective university departments with outside experts also joining in.
The courses are supposed to be revised and reformulated every three years to make them relevant to the needs of a fast changing time. Changes in course content provide an opportunity to facilitate contemporary theoretical and practical exposures for the students.
Every university has the scope to build on their environmental demand of human capital and opening ways to offer unique opportunities through new or revised courses.
In Bengal, barring a very few exceptions, such revisions are not in practise for several years now. A close look at the syllabi will reveal the practise of copying and pasting from outdated contents from old universities.
Such exercises have been failing, as expected, to address the need of our students for contemporary knowledge and relevant skills towards making them self-sufficient in all necessary spheres of life.
Thus, the education and training (or the lack of it) that the students in Bengal universities and colleges receive, are gradually shrinking their employment prospects.
The situation is worsening over the years. It is assuming such a grave shape that a money-market selling primary teachers’ job has now cropped up. This, in turn, is resulting in a systemic corruption because, those bribing their way into teaching is capable of doing everything else but teaching.
And then, there is an unwritten pact among the elite academics to promote their inapt scholars and children as faculty members in our colleges and universities. This practise is driving away brilliant and sincere young minds from the academic sphere of Bengal. This, for understandable reasons, is leaving our youths angry and frustrated.
The agitations at Presidency and Jadavpur are only a manifestation of the anger that the youths are simmering with. Unemployed youths, with little vocation at hand, are also joining such campus protests.
Making the best misuse of such young minds, political opportunists are exploiting the situation to grab campus power. The trend is already showing in the campuses of Gour Banga University or Raiganj.
(Biplob LohoChoudhury is a professor of journalism at Visva-Bharati. He lives in Santiniketan, Birbhum)
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