Thursday, March 11, 2010

Education on sale

I learned nothing there. It was just a question of ratto-maroing [cramming]
~Aga Shahid Ali, Kashmir’s greatest poet in English, on his undergraduate degree at the University of Kashmir.

Good teachers are costly, but bad teachers cost more
~Bob Talbert

B.Ed (Bachelor in Education) in Kashmir is like bats in the belfry.
It is the education scam of the decade. The colleges are mostly run of the mill. Kashmir University is wholly complicit. And it has now reached a point where the arrangement is pure assembly line. All you got to do is this: Cough up the desired money and the college will take care of attendance, study material, list of probable questions expected in the final examination, among other things. In simple words, while you unwind on your bed, your B.Ed degree churns out of the sham-academic-conveyor-belt.

The state has about 150 B.Ed colleges, all but two of which are private. This comprises of our education mafia. They are mostly incompetent blokes with little or inconsequential education, adept only at selling a bill of goods. The degree-shops charge exorbitantly -- for a B.Ed degree -- from close to 50,000 students who annually take up the course. Since most of the students are from outside Kashmir we have this unique distinction of exporting a very mediocre grade of alumni who learn nothing but the art of bunkum here.

Any private B.Ed college willing to grease the palms of the Education department in the Kashmir University is granted affiliation -- to fleece poor students. Swindlers masquerade as professors only to act hand-in-glove with these colleges. So we have B.Ed colleges mushrooming like wild flowers in pine woods. There is one in every borough. Consequently we have more B.Ed shops than regular colleges. With zero intellectual capital and shoddy infrastructure those managing the show mostly hire retired teachers to impart new ideas and latest skills to the next generation. The joke is on us.

The spurt in militancy in the 1990’s saw an unusually huge spike in the number of students from outside the state, particularly from places like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh coming to take up B.Ed courses in Kashmir. This was around the same time when several state governments in India made the degree mandatory for aspiring teachers. Soon everyone in Kashmir scrambled for their share, like the Californian gold rush. The corpulent Education department in Kashmir University -- which mandates the B.Ed degree and the affiliation business – couldn’t have asked for more. Everyone in the department made hay while the proverbial sun shone.

To attract more students from other states – who mean no more than cattle to these institutes -- Kashmir University relaxed admission norms. Earlier, a minimum of 46 per cent was needed for admission. The limit has been further dropped to 36 per cent. And students taking up the course are expected to acquire the craft of imparting knowledge to the new generation. And more importantly have that hallowed suffix to their other degree/s [BA. B.Ed, MA. B.Ed. How frigging fancy!]

An educational system can never be worth a dime if it teaches young men and women – irrespective of their state of birth -- how to make a living but flunks to teach them how to make a life.

Meanwhile admissions are open for B.Ed 2010. Apply early.