We are living in a fast changing world. Science & technology have given us the power to wipe out poverty, ignorance & sickness. Unless we acquire the wisdom to use scientific & technological power properly we will miserably fail to ensure the progress of our society.
The system of Higher education therefore is to be equipped with amenities for acquiring the advance knowledge in various fields of human activities. We are to keep in mind that the educational systems are built for the time and not for all time. A curriculum which was valid in the colonial period, for example, cannot continue unaltered in 21st Century. It should be redesigned and restructured in accordance with the interest of different type of students. It should be flexible so as to fit into the changing conditions and needs of the changing society.
At present emphasis is given on specialization which enables the students to acquire special knowledge and skill in a particular subject. It makes him narrow and unbalanced. The balanced development of mind will be possible when provision will be made for acquiring knowledge of science by students of Arts and Commerce and vice versa. The demerit of narrow specialization thus can be set right by establishing harmony between general education and specialisation. This will help development of personality of students and they will turn out to be dutiful and ideal citizens. This is possible only in and ideal academic environment. But the quality of teaching in our universities and college is low. Students passing from university and colleges in Odisha fail to succeed in all India examinations. The academic standard cannot be improved overnight. Seeds sown at present will bear fruit after years of care and nourishment. There is necessity of thorough analysis of the anomalies in the present system and initiation of remedial measures required for retrieval.
In fact the system of higher education in our state is at present, in a state of crisis mainly due to unplanned and uncontrolled expansion. Because of lack of control and lack of planning there are too many unwanted colleges in some part of our state where as in other parts particularly in Kalahandi, Bolangir, Phulbani and in undivided Koraput district there are blocks without any college. This causes regional imbalance. To ensure balanced growth efforts should be made to establish colleges in the area having no college so far. The college teachers likely to lose jobs because of lack of workload in some colleges should be posted in those new colleges. This will be possible only when an educational map of the state is made indication the place, status and category of colleges. Then only the Govt. will be in a position to refuse permission to unwanted colleges.
In this context attention of policy makers is drawn to the outdated faulty mechanism for grant of permission to establish new colleges or introduce new subjects. The prevailing practice provides unlimited scope to unscrupulous persons in the bureaucracy for exploitation. There is no reason why officers of the Department of higher education, Department of finance, University or Council cannot take up the matter jointly and dispose of the cases on the basis of merit. Unless this aspect is looked after opening of unwanted colleges cannot be stopped.
It is to be mentioned here that Hota Committee recommends for stopping grant-in-aid to colleges not faring well in the Exam. This is like putting the cart before the horse. This should not help maintenance of quality in Higher education. It will only encourage the management to resort to unfair means to show better result. Let there be a definite recruitment policy like the state of West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka. Let the staff of aided Colleges be appointed on the basis of merit. This will restore dignity of the profession. People will not look down upon them. All appointments made before adopting a recruitment policy be made valid on the basis of workload.
Besides the problem of expansion, the Higher Education system in our state maintains a double standard. A few Colleges like B.J.B. College, Ravenshaw College etc. For example, are of good quality. They have got the grade A from National Assessment and Accreditation Council. Among Aided Colleges P.N. College, V.N. College, Kendrapada College, Bhanjanagar College, Talcher College, Laramba College etc. Are colleges of good quality. But these are surrounded by a number of small Colleges where facilities are not up to standard. But in these institutions large number of students, particularly from rural area and weaker sections receive their Education. We cannot blame the teachers, employees and students of these College for deterioration of quality. We are to blame the policy makers in the Govt. and the management for their failure to ensure quality. Steps should be taken as soon as possible for up gradation of these colleges so as to bridge the gap as far as possible. Otherwise, majority of students will be deprived of equal opportunity in the field of Higher Education leading to undesirable social segregation and strengthening of in egalitarian trends in our society.
The next major issue is the relevance of education. The country as observed earlier, is going through economic and technological changes. The system of Higher education has to prepare its products for participation in the emerging social, economic and cultural environment. But the structural arrangement of the present curriculum is rigid and fails to respond to the emerging need of the student community. Academicians and policy makers in the Govt. take decision without any coordination between them. Views of the students and teachers organization are not taken into consideration. In the interest of the students a mechanism should be devised for coordination among different agencies while framing course structure from K.G. to P.G.
The national policy on education contains the proposal to include 25% students in vocational stream by 2000 A.D. Steps should be taken to ensure what a substantial majority of the products of Vocational courses are employed or become self employed. But Odisha is one of the States where management of vocational colleges is likely to end in fiasco. Huge amount money is spent in Vocational College without any purpose which can alternatively be utilized for augmentation of facilities in existing colleges.
The national policy on Education also emphasizes that efforts to be made to have +2 stage accepted as a part of School education throughout the country. Odisha is one of the few states where no definite step has been taken so far to separate +2 from +3. Above all, there is the age old problem of members of the teaching communities and employees working in colleges. It is said that the status of the teachers reflects the socio cultural ethos of a society. But their status in our state is wretched. Unless the social, financial and professional status of the teachers is protected talented students will not be attracted to this profession. In the absence of talented and qualified persons quality of colleges will deteriorate.
We are to remember that in a world based on science and technology it is education that determines the level of prosperity. No reform is more important than to transform education because it is the most powerful instrument of social economic and cultural transformation of the society. The failure to grasp the gravity of the issue will lead to disastrous consequences.