What ails college education in J&K

By Abid Hussain Rather & Firdous Majeed Salroo. Dated: 6/7/2020 1:04:04 AM

College life is reckoned as a colorful stage of life among the youth. Once a person crosses the higher secondary stage and enters into college life, it becomes turning point of a person's career. If we will look through the perspective of career building, this stage is the most important stage of life. It is the period of life where a person can build his/ her bright future or completely ruin it. Undergraduate courses form the base of high-profile competitive examinations including civil services.
Besides the hard work and involvement of students about their careers, some other people, authorities and institutions have duties regarding the career building of our young generation during undergraduate courses. No doubt, students themselves form the base of this whole process which revolves around them but the process doesn't totally stop on them. Some other parties have to play their role in this process to brighten the career of our youth and thus change the future of a nation. Parents and teachers, of course, have to play a pivotal role in the whole play. Parents have to be careful about their children, their choices, their ways of living. They always have to keep a keen eye on them and always try to counsel them in whatever way possible. This is the period of changes and challenges in their children's life, so they need counselling every now and then during this stage. After parents, teachers also have major responsibilities and duties regarding the career building of students. It is the teacher who builds the nation. Besides teaching, a teacher should always be ready to give a helping hand to his students and should always guide them through his experience.
Above all, the concerned institutions play a significant role in the career building of our future generations. Colleges should have career counseling cells so that the students can be guided well for their future courses. The syllabus should be framed according to the latest trends and according to the need of the hour. Advanced and technical courses should find adequate place in the college courses. Different kind of programs can be conducted in colleges to enlighten the students. Regularity and punctuality of students should be made essential in colleges. To get better output from our colleges, college infrastructure, teacher-student ratio, and many other things should be as per the UGC guidelines.
In Jammu and Kashmir, however, the seats of higher education are not very promising in many respects. We don't find adequate laboratory equipments in different laboratories due to lack of allotted funds. In some colleges departments the staff room and department's laboratory are operating from a shared room. As per UGC norms, there should be one teacher for eighty students in a college but in our colleges we often find one teacher for more than hundred students in some subjects. In some colleges it goes up to hundred and fifty. One lab should occupy 35 students, but we have up to 80 students in a lab in some colleges which adversely affects the teaching learning process.
The previous annual system of examinations with descriptive type questions allowed students to find adequate time for studies, but the shift to semester system is unsustainable in the political and weather instability, particularly in the valley. Because of strike calls, ' bandhs', curfews, weather vagaries and many other likely conditions, the colleges mostly remain closed, or students are unable to attend classes regularly, thus making it impossible for them to complete their syllabus in time. Added to this, the admission procedure in valley colleges has now become a slow and almost continuous process. Those students who have passed their secondary school Annual examination during December-January session take admission in colleges during March-April months and are supposed to appear in first semester during July-August session. Irony is that those students who pass their secondary school examination in backlog mode during April-May take admission in colleges during June-July for 1st semester where students are already having completed 75-80% of their syllabus and these students are also supposed to appear in 1st semester examination in July-August along with the already admitted students for which these newly admitted students get just one or two months to study. Till now, the concerned authorities have badly failed in conducting two semesters in a year because of above mentioned conditions and the undergraduate courses which were once a 'three year degree course' are now completed in four or five years and have now become time consuming.
With respect to regularity and punctuality, there are no strict rules for regularity of students and they are allowed to appear in examinations even if they have just attended one or two classes in the whole session. I have found many students in colleges who just complete admission formalities and then remain involved in other activities like coaching for other competitive examinations like NEET etc or pursue other courses through ITIs and only appear in college examinations without attending even a single class. Some students even run shops throughout the session or work as salesman and later appear in examinations. For such students, pursuing undergraduate courses in colleges is a secondary activity while they focus on other things during the whole year. This results in weak pass outs with zero quality.
Our colleges are giving us just pass out graduates with very poor quality and impede the career prospects of the younger generation. The flaws in the higher education need to be addressed. A well-planned academic calendar for undergraduate classes should be framed and strictly followed in letter and spirit. Colleges should be allotted adequate funds by concerned departments so that they can also have good infrastructure and laboratories with well-equipped instruments like other parts of the country.
(The authors can be reached at rather1294@gmail.com)



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