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Shame on colleges

Not all is well with the colleges of Assam.


Sentinel Digital Desk

Not all is well with the colleges of Assam. This is nothing new or surprising. But, it is a statement of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma which has officially confirmed that not all is well with the colleges of Assam. According to official statistics, only 21.4 per cent of the higher educational institutes – most of them are colleges –in Assam have been accredited by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC). This means, close to 80 per cent of our colleges are not accredited by NAAC. According to official figures, there are 1,016 higher educational institutes in Assam, among which only 218 are currently accredited by NAAC. Assessment by NAAC is mandatory for getting funds from Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) and UGC for infrastructure development, one important component of a college. No wonder the Chief Minister had last week asked all higher educational institutions to ensure NAAC assessment without fail by the end of 2022. It is a shame on the part of the college governing bodies, and more particularly the principals, that such a large number of them have been unable to get NAAC accreditation. Unfortunately, college principals have to be warned by the Chief Minister of punitive measures like salary cuts. NAAC accreditation is essential to ensure the quality status of educational institutions, and the absence of NAAC accreditation or failure to get it means there is something wrong not only with the management of colleges but also in the overall quality of teachers and teaching. Apart from the failure to get NAAC accreditation, many colleges are plagued with various other ailments, the most important being the poor quality of teachers. The State Assembly has discussed more than once the issue of fake PhD degrees held by several college teachers including principals. Moreover, a sizable section of college teachers does not possess uniformly good academic qualifications. Many got "first-class" Masters degrees from dubious and doubtful universities. Corruption too is said to be rampant in colleges and universities, and information obtained by some citizens through RTI applications, as often reported in the media, stand testimony to this. About the ability to teach, the less said the better. Moreover, teaching from the textbook or syllabus alone is not enough; a college teacher, who gets a handsome salary, has to be a friend, philosopher and guide to the students, a task which a large number of them cannot perform because they do not possess the basic understanding of issues that are required to be transmitted to the young minds thirsty for knowledge. Given this situation, there is undoubtedly an urgent need to thoroughly overhaul our colleges and universities before it is too late.

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