OPINION: Degree can’t be a yardstick to measure competence

Long back Pt. Jawahara Lal Nehru had said that degrees should be de-linked from the jobs and practical knowledge should be the yardstick to measure the competency of an individual.

A university degree might have ensured higher proficiency and commanded respect about fifty years ago. But there has been a striking devaluation of degrees after independence, and it is easy to understand and defend the persistent demand that degrees should no longer be considered essential for jobs. The idea of de-linking jobs from degrees is not a new one.

With the introduction of Right to Education Act which has two days back completed its third year term which was passed in 2009 and came into force on 1 April 2010 and 135 countries but its implementation in its true spirit is a big decision as well as challenge for the government as it has too much impact at the social and economic level as well.   In 2002, after 86th amendment in the Constitution of India, education has been given the Fundamental Right status but it took seven years to give it a practical shape.

There are two main hurdles in implementation of Right to Education law, one; non-availability of required infrastructure and two; lack of quality education. In other words, we have to understood that the children are studying in those schools also which do not have 40 per cent teaching staff, non-availability of toilets for girl schools in 33 per cent, and 39 per cent schools which do not have ramp for the physically challenged students.  The availability of clean drinking water, sports grounds, toilets, electricity, school building all is necessary but in the event of non-availability of all these infrastructures, in case the students are not getting the quality education, all this is wastage of time and money.  It should be the priority of the government to make arrangements to provide to provide quality education in the schools and if the quality education is provided then the other factors can be ignored which are creating hurdles. 

When we talk about the quality education, the yardstick is taken from the psss-outs engineers, doctors and administrative officers.  There is a need of good teachers in all the educational institutions right from the primary level to professional college and universities. Still there is a shortage of about 11 lakh teachers at the national level. Now the B.Ed degree has been made compulsory for joining the teaching profession at the primary level. If a student after passing the graduation is not able to teach the students, then how we can guarantee that after one year B.Ed degree he would be a good teacher and from where we will bring the teachers to teach the B.Ed students and it has become a rituality to pass on the degree after one year of education. 

KK Dhawan, a retired educationist opined, “The poor parents prefer to train their children for petty skilled jobs instead of sending them to the school.   Instead of reserving heavy budgets for the Sarv Sikhiya Abohya, it would be more appropriate to give cash stipend to the poor families in lieu of sending their children to the schools so that they may not expect the child to do the job at the tender age”.

After the enactment of RTE Act, all states were directed to give it a practical shape with dead line as 31 March, 2013 and this cut-out date has expired and still certain states in the country are not in a position to implement it letter and spirit. In such circumstances, the seriousness of the Act is that in case any child between the age group of 6-14 is not getting the education, he can move direct to the Supreme Court taking the plea of depriving of fundamental right to education and taking this provision in view, all states are not in a mood to implement it half-heatedly. 

 

Teaching is an art for which degree is not necessary but some qualities are required and in case the standard of education has to be increased, then we have to review about the process of recruitment of teachers. There are some conservative thinkers who hold that a university degree is essential for certain specialised fields of jobs and activities, such as training scientists, engineers, doctors, economists, literary artists and connoisseurs and administrative jobs. There is some degree of truth and weight in this. But did Archimedes or Newton, or Shakespeare or Valmiki or Tulsidas possess a university degree? Would the world have got results that are more marvellous if Leonardo de Vinci had been subjected to a rigorous course in a University? Prescribing higher bat inessential qualifications is sheer and colos­sal waste of human resources.

The basic argument advanced in favour of de-linking jobs from degrees is that our education system is not job-oriented. University degrees cater to the requirement of white-collar jobs and do not im­part any professional competence. But these jobs can be satisfac­torily handled by boys and girls even with school level education. Then why go to the College or University at all?

Another aspect of the same argument is related to the recruitment methodology. Most of the jobs are filled through competitive examinations. Later, orientation programmes are conducted for candidates selected on the basis of their performance in the competitive examinations. These programmes familiarize them with specific job requirements and are more useful than any degree course. It is difficult to understand where a degree fits in this scheme.

It needs no father arguments to justify the need of de-linking jobs from degrees. The real need of the hour is to revamp school education, make it more meaningful and more job-oriented so that there is a smooth road for the young people from school into their professional life. And only those students who really need them should pursue higher courses. This will eliminate unneces­sary wastage of time and energy, ease burden on scarce financial resources.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of City Air News.)

Date: 
Tuesday, April 2, 2013