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Friday, October 8, 2010

Passing thoughts on Higher Education

I always have a idealism that education brings erudition and clarity in ideas; empathise and understand, lead and act to bring changes. And educational institutes catalyses this happening. I feel privileged to become a part of the ITBHU in 2004. It was feeling of eliteness and ecstasy of qualifying IIT JEE after dropping out 2 years post intermediate. Now, IT BHU is on the verge of conversion into IIT. ITBHU has potential and it will always have potential if the attitude of authority remains same despite of effective converted into IIT.  BHU is ranked as top most university in India and IT BHU ranks in top 10 technical college of the country. Still, I can see the slow and orthodox behaviour of the authorities in day to day work. I started thinking about institutional aging and condition of universities in India.

Intellectual license permit raj is there in our all universities that is why we are out of world rankings based on any parameters. Universities are merely a passing-by station for most of the students. Our educational institutes has a large shortfall of teachers and a lacklustre administration. Indian college are social slums of the intellectual where action is resisted in favour of status. Initiative and experiment may led to wrong results, that is the way administration of the colleges are run overall. Andre Betellei notes, this approach has turned or universities into mere ABC factories, degree giving institutions whose primary focus is not education but conducting exams.

The truth is that the desire for change has to come from the top of the institutional pyramid. A rule of thumb for efficiency standards is that they should be 'tough' but not panic inducing'. Time and space is needed to react with new initiatives. When the best will not accommodate for inclusive policies and behave like elite branded model for market economy, its decay starts at the moment only. Flexibility to adopt new academic models and inclusion of lesser social and economical privileged scholars have to be incepted in our educational institute.

Let us go ahead and make our universities with Asian first and world latter in the similarity of Bologna movement that shake up the European academic centers. Latin America has 1980's as its lost decade due to bad policies despite of having a quite young population; India has large young population. The shortage of job is most combustible driver for social change. The failure to meet the needs of a vast young population can lead to instability and political rebellion against government. The push factor of economic forces with the pull factor of education can bring a lot of change to our educational institutions.

Knowledge and University :

The prime task of the university is to ensure the radical autonomy of the practice of knowledge. Without the autonomy of knowledge and education, the social world would necessarily be limited to the brutal reproduction of power and economic coercion. In other words, the university must be driven by political logic and not by economic logic.This means the radical autonomy of education.

Knowledge without education is impossible. Education without institutions is impossible. And knowledge is also impossible without an ethos of knowledge, without freedom of thought and a community of thought. Is there a contradiction between these axiomatic conditions? Is it possible to strike a balance between education and the common work of conception, co-thinking and invention? In other words, can we find the right balance between the "community" of knowledge and the "institution" of knowledge? In a philosophical critique of the pragmatic reduction of knowledge, Boyan Manchev defines the university as "locus of the unconditionally political". Read further in Theses on education and the experience of critical thought.

Three Weblinks on Higher Education:

1- The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Iowa State University - The idea of “shopping” for a college or university seems pretentious on the surface, unless you’re Bill Gates or Kate Gosselin, both of whom could buy Drake; Look at universities fees and their offerings as they are retail stores.

2-The Science Network (TSN): Its mission is to build an online science and society agora, or public square, dedicated to the discussion of issues at the intersection of science and social policy. By engaging a diverse community of concerned constituencies in conversation, on and offline through signature meetings, video programming, and in developing partnerships with public television stations, TSN is creating a scientific no-spin zone - a trusted destination free from the tyranny of the sound bite.

3- Are Colleges Worth the Price of Admission? : College should be a cultural journey, an intellectual expedition, a voyage confronting new ideas and information. But as Tuition charges at both public and private colleges have rising high, admissions are becoming tough for common man.

Thought of the Day:

Our society, throughout school, college, and life, conditions people to treat failing as something to be ashamed of, not as a learning experience. This breeds a subconscious but intense fear of failure, since it's now associated with shame/humiliation. This obviously leads to risk-aversion in the vast majority of the population. The key message here is, 'failure is a stepping stone, not a tombstone'.

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