Education in Uttarakhand 1

Education in Uttarakhand 1

Education In Uttarakhand

The system of education in Uttarakhand is pretty much the same as in other parts of the country. The ‘Uttarakhand Sabhi Ke Liye Siksha Parishad’ is a body that has been established to assist the state board in implementing a education system that reaches children and students from all walks of life. Infrastructure and education transfer system in here follows a modern approach. Students get to learn every aspect of their favourite subject through theoretical and practical education process.

According to the statistics of year 2011, current number of students in here is 1,040,139. There are more than 15,331 primary schools in here guided by 22,118 teachers who are experts in their fields. Literacy rate in this state of India is 79.63%. Literacy ratio of male and female students is increasing every day. Today it is 88.33% for male students and 70.70% for female students.

Main language of education in here is Hindi and English. Educational institutions in here are divided in two main parts such as- Government institutes and Private institutes. Schools and colleges under this banner are-

  • Primary Schools
  • High Schools
  • Degree Colleges
  • Inter colleges
  • Technical Institutions

Here are a few notable educational institutions in Uttarakhand that have gained reputation in world of education enthusiasts and students.

Schools-

Birla Vidya Mandir, The Doon School, Welham Girls School, Sherwood College, etc.

Engineering colleges-

Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, College of Engineering, G. B. Pant University of Agriculture etc.

Technical Institutes-

Government Polytechnic Nainital, Govt. Polytechnic, Dwarahat etc.

Education policy and suggested reforms

Higher, or post-secondary, education has seen major expansion in Uttarakhand during the last few years, especially after the formation of the state. At the time of the formation of the state there were 64 higher education institutions viz., universities, post-graduate and under-graduate colleges, engineering, professional, education, medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges. Their number has gone up to about 248 – an increase of 287.5 percent in less than 9 years.1 By any standard this is a remarkable growth. Predictably, a growth of this magnitude has thrown up formidable problems that need to be addressed on a priority basis.

The decision to open new institutions by the government or grant of permission to private institutions seems to be quite arbitrary and shows no evidence of being based on an analysis of need or sustainability. In the case of private institutions, all of which are in the field of professional education, some unstated assumption about commercial viability appears to be the guiding factor. The situation in the case of government colleges, all of which fall in the category of general education i.e. arts and science education, is quite unclear. More often than not the decision to start new colleges and their location is guided by political considerations and is not based on an analysis of factors that should be taken into account while arriving at such a decision viz., the need and justification for the institution, area to be served, numbers of post-secondary students likely to be available, infrastructure and financial needs, feasibility of alternatives to starting a new college (e.g. scholarships and hostels in existing institutions). The result is a proliferation of colleges lacking in basic facilities like buildings, libraries, laboratories etc., low enrolment, and shortage of teachers. Of the 65 colleges for which data are available on the website of the Directorate of Higher Education for the year 2003-04, 23 had no building, 13 had less than 100 students on rolls and another 28 had between 100 and 500 while at the upper end 17 had more than 1000 students.

The responsibility for overseeing, formulating policy and regulating the functioning of these institutions is shared by four different departments of the state government. The Higher Education Department is responsible for the three general universities (including the Uttarakhand Open University), and the colleges of general education. Technical institutions, including the Uttarakhand Technical University, fall within the scope of responsibility of the Technical Education Department. Medical and dental colleges are the responsibility of the Medical Education Department and agricultural education falls within the purview of the Agriculture Department. Uttarakhand is not unique in this respect. This is the general pattern in most of the states in the country. While this arrangement follows an obvious logic based on the rules of business of the government, it suffers from the all too familiar ills of excessive departmentalism and a lack of inter-departmental coordination. The result is absence of an integrated approach to policy in higher education.

A glaring infirmity resulting from the unplanned growth of higher education institutions in the state is a clear mountain-plain divide in the location of institutions. Of the 67 government colleges of general education in the state as many as 52 (78%) were located in the mountainous districts or mountainous parts of composite (mountain-plain) districts. Barring a few exceptions (e.g., the older colleges located in Pithoragarh, Ranikhet, Bageshwar, Gopeshwar and Uttarkashi) most of these colleges lack basic minimum facilities and staff. On the other hand the distribution of self-financing technical and professional institutions, which are all private, shows an entirely different pattern. Of the 89 such colleges for which information could be obtained only 6 were in the mountainous part of the state (2 each in Mussoorie, Bhimtal and Almora); the remaining 83 being in places like Dehradun (50), Roorkee and Haldwani (7 each), Rudrapur (6), Hardwar (4) Rishikesh (3), Kashipur (2), Kotdwar, Jaspur, Sitarganj and Gadarpur (1 each).

The quantitative expansion in higher education that we have witnessed in the state in the current century is not matched by a qualitative improvement. We cannot, in all fairness, claim that our universities compare with the better institutions of the country. Some news magazines periodically publish rankings of higher education institutions in India. Uttarakhand-based institutions do not figure in these lists of best institutions in the country in various fields. The honourable exception is IIT Roorkee, for which the State Government can claim no credit, as it is now a central institution. Using another indicator of the academic standing of our higher education institutions, we find that the number of students from these institutions qualifying in competitive examinations like all-India and central services, UGC and CSIR fellowships is also quite small. We cannot even begin to compare ourselves with global institutions. Referring to a McKinsey report, Philip Altbach makes the startling disclosure that 75 percent of India’s engineering graduates are too poorly educated to function effectively in the economy without additional on-the-job training. Kiran Karnik also makes a similar point when he writes: “The butterfly that flapped its wings and triggered a storm, to borrow a metaphor from chaos theory, was Nasscom’s muchreiterated statement that hardly a fourth of graduating engineers, and even a smaller percentage of other graduates, was of employable quality for IT-BPO jobs.”

Indian universities do not figure in some of the well-known rankings of world universities published periodically . Making international comparisons is not such a farfetched idea. In the current phase of globalization, control over knowledge and knowledge production is what gives the decisive edge in determining the power and influence of nations in the international arena. Hence we should be aiming to be among the best in the world. Here it is necessary to emphasize that the basic aim of institutions of higher learning, especially universities, is knowledge-creation and knowledge-dissemination. Knowledge is to be distinguished from either skill or information. Knowledge, in the true sense of the term, involves engagement with ideas in a creative manner and innovativeness in thinking and application of ideas. Unfortunately our universities and colleges are, at best, purveyors of skill and information. As a result even the best of our institutions are not setting standards for others to follow. They are merely consumers of ideas produced elsewhere, mainly in the western industrialized countries. For building a modern higher education system it would therefore be necessary to start with re-visioning the nature and role of universities as the corner stone of the structure.

Education in Uttarakhand 1

Unfortunately, despite such resources, an instrumentalist concept of higher education has taken deep roots in India at the institutional, societal and even the highest policy-making levels,4 especially during the last two decades or so. Its role in preparing young women and men for the world of work by imparting skills that are needed in the job market has been receiving increasing (or one may add, exclusive) attention, to the detriment of its knowledge-creation role. Witness the large numbers of private professional colleges, universities and deemed to be universities in the fields of engineering, medicine, dentistry, computer applications, pharmacy, management, teacher education, para-medical education etc. that have mushroomed in recent years. Many of them do not measure up to any quality standards, not even that of decent polytechnics. As a result questions are being raised about the role and functioning of regulatory bodies, especially AICTE and UGC that have approved their establishment. The scramble for starting so-called job-oriented courses, often without adequate preparation or qualified staff has also affected our universities. In many cases this is seen as an easy way of augmenting resources. By classifying such courses or programmes as self-financing, the universities are able to charge much higher tuition fee than that for regular undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The latter, it may be recalled, are still stuck, in many cases, at the level fixed almost half-a-century back.

Providing skilled human power with necessary technical knowledge and skills to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and globalizing modern economy is undoubtedly important from the perspective of the national economy; yet it is an incomplete and partial understanding of the role of higher education in the modern globalised world. It ignores the crucial importance of knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination in the emerging world. Knowledge has now also become the basis of power. Gone are the days when nations could hope to build their power on the shoulders of borrowed ideas, borrowed knowledge and borrowed money. The signs are unmistakable that in the emerging world, knowledge, and control over knowledge, will define the power of nations, rather than mere possession of weapons or money, as in the past. It is therefore essential that India should aim to become a global knowledge power. That is also the vision and blueprint drawn up for the country by the National Knowledge Commission.

Higher education in India has been plagued by lack of clarity about its role and the ends it should seek to maximize. It has been buffeted, on occasion violently, between the three goals of access, equity and quality, by the prevailing political and/or ideological wind.

Among these three goals access and equity have proved to be stronger than quality. Quality has also had a relatively weak constituency rooting for it. As a result, access and equity have come to occupy the centre-stage in educational policy at the expense of quality. Higher education (and indeed education generally) is best conceived as a triangular structure resting on the three pillars of access, equity and quality. The stability of the structure demands that each pillar be of the same strength, otherwise it will become lop-sided or even collapse. Something of this kind seems to be happening to higher education in India today.

Uttarakhand needs to draw inspiration and ideas from the reports of the National Knowledge Commission and the Yashpal Committee, and revamp and restructure its higher education system in order to take full advantage of the emerging opportunities in the knowledge arena. The State has certain strengths which it can build upon and emerge as a premier knowledge destination in the country: literacy rate in the state is higher than the national average; it is an important centre of secondary education and houses a number of well-known private schools, which attract students from all over the country and even abroad. The following should constitute the basic building blocks for revamping and rejuvenating the State’s higher education system:

  • Holistic education system
  • Differentiated education system
  • Clarity about the role of the private sector
  • Appropriate institutional framework
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