Needed reforms

UGC hopes to improve the quality of education.

The University Grants Commission’s proposal to link central funding under the 12th Five-Year Plan, the granting of mandatory accreditation to universities and colleges and their rating with their implementation of  academic and administrative reforms must be welcomed. This could put pressure on educational institutions to shake off their lethargy in implementing reforms recommended by the UGC in 2008. These reforms include introduction of the semester system, choice-based credit system, curriculum development, transparency in the admission procedures and examination reforms. The reforms aim at improving the quality of education being imparted in our universities. With regard to the curriculum, for instance, the UGC made revision of the syllabus mandatory every three years at least. It also provided a model curriculum to guide this revision. Sadly, most colleges and universities across the country failed to implement the reforms, forcing the UGC to crack the whip.

Few Indian educational institutions figure among the best in the world. The reasons for this are not hard to find. Our educational institutions burden students with outdated syllabi, archaic testing and grading methods, and uninspiring teaching. The reforms will demand more of the students as well as the teachers. Students will have to study throughout the academic year in the proposed semester system rather than cram just before the annual examination in the existing system. An important obstacle in the way of implementation of reforms is the teaching fraternity. Under the reformed system, teachers will have to update their knowledge. They can be expected to protest the implementation of the reforms. The board of management of colleges have not been let off the hook. The reforms demand greater transparency in the admission process. This will address the corruption and profit-oriented education that has become the norm across the country.

The UGC reforms must be implemented as we owe our youth meaningful education, one that excites them to think in new ways and motivates them to aspire for excellence, even as it prepares them for the challenges and changes of the 21st century. Unfortunately most educational institutions - driven as they are by profit – have not prioritised students in their imparting of education. By linking funds to reforms, the UGC has provided educational institutions with self-interest as a motivator for ushering in the changes. Hopefully this will work. Colleges will have to pull up their socks quickly as the UGC has given them until end-November to get their act together.

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