Delink research and teaching

Higher Education system in India is facing so many challenges. The biggest one is quality or the standard of teaching.  In the New Education Policy 2020, the biggest thrust is on research. This makes one believe that developing a big pool of quality research and teaching is enough to conquer the fort.

Teaching is the hinge around which all the system of colleges/universities revolves but hardly anyone is talking about the component of ‘Leadership’ in the teachers. The Fortune 500 survey found that only 5 to 8 percent of managers are effective. So this is also applicable to teachers and due to this ailment, education is acutely ill in India.

Instead of improving the quality of teachers and teaching, the main emphasis in NEP 2020 is to improve the standard of research in colleges and universities. But this is a faulty notion. Colleges and universities are established to teach. They are not research institutions. College and University teachers are poor researchers. Failed and poor teachers opt for projects, research grants and visiting fellowships to hide their failures and grab fat benefits with comforts and promotions. Many such teachers are on leave for years and decades and their contribution to the parent institutions is big ZERO. They manipulate projects and research grants for years and decades.

When one thinks about the great teachers who were great leaders too, the list is very small. Vishvamita, Dronacharya, Parshuram, Chanakya, Rabindranath Tagore, Maharshi Karve, Dayanand  Saraswati, and Dr.S.Radhakrishnan only. So why do teachers lack leadership now?

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The government should open a pure research institute. Teachers should not be involved in the projects and researches. They are appointed to teach and are given fat salaries to teach. So, they must teach. Teachers who do not teach and are involved in projects and research for years and decades are a big burden on the institutions. The eco-system is disturbed by such teachers.

The NEP 2020 endeavours to make a pattern change. So teachers should not be disturbed. They must teach only. This is a big task. The NEP has recommended opening research institutes. So in each district of the country, specialized research institutes should be established. Multi-disciplinary research institutes should not be encouraged. Less developed states like Uttrakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, the North-East states, Laddakh, Jammu, Andaman and Nicobar and hill states should be given priority.

The success of Multi-disciplinary universities (MDU) institutions is very doubtful. Most of such universities have almost crumbled. Teaching calls for a high level of skills and knowledge. This needs small classes, monitoring the progress and difficulties, clarification of concepts, and motivating students with providing solutions. Teachers should use technologies, pedagogy, mentoring and career counselling.

Setting up of National Research Foundation (NRF) is a very good idea. Teachers and scholars who are interested in projects and research should be transferred permanently to these NRFs so that they may not disturb the teaching in the colleges and play havoc with the future of the students for their gains.

The collaborative teaching for creating effective eco-system for teaching that generates cooperation amongst teachers, students, industry and government should be used. Specialized NRF should also be established for quality research to address the need of society. Research skills are greatly different from teaching skills. This mixture of ‘biryani’ of research and teaching led to ineffective teachers and poor research in the nation. If HE, research and vision of the NEP have to be fruitful, we need to delink teaching and research.

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This cocktail will spoil NEP. Such lovers of ‘biryani’ and cocktail of teaching and research should not be given any promotion like from ‘Associate Professor to Professor.’ The shallow publication of articles in journals has neither any value for teachers nor students. They are personal benefits to the teachers. Only dedicated, regular and senior-most genuine teachers should be given promotions. It will be a miscarriage of justice if such cocktail or ‘biryani’ teachers are promoted from ‘Associate Professors to Professors. They are ‘Ghost Teachers’ on payroll.

Due to the poor standard of teachers, no Indian university ranks among the top 200  universities of the world although historically the country had excellent universities like Nalanda, Takshashila and Patliputra. The nation must think seriously about this aspect. For this, the role of teachers and researchers should not be blurred. It must be demarked.

Sadly, there is no sign that the pattern is possible to modify shortly. Not surprisingly, all want to maintain the status quo since it hand out their agenda well.

The nation had a good foundation as early as September 1944 when an ‘Indian MIT’ was set up. Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, was envisaged on the pattern of MIT and started functioning in 1951. It truly had, with the best faculty and students available. Over the years, as the number of IITs proliferated, these have become outmoded institutions.

Until recently, appointments in IITs were strictly based on merit. IITs became a respected global brand because they selected teachers who were the best in India. With the proliferation of IITs and quota system for appointments, the overall quality of future IIT teachers declined. Now, India has 21 IITs but not a single MIT as in America. Overall, in IITs, nearly 30% of faculty positions are lying vacant due to a lack of quality teachers.

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Compare this with China. In 1998, the government of China decided to upgrade only nine universities out of 2100 universities in China. Those nine are now globally among the best universities. After this phenomenal success, China increased a few numbers. Again they are the world-class universities. Germany has also followed the same policies very successfully. In India, in near future, there is no possibility to produce world-class universities. Indian politicians, for the sake of short-term gains, have killed the goose that laid golden eggs!

To achieve excellence within NEP 2020, the quality of teachers and teaching has to be improved significantly so that genuinely deserving teachers are rewarded and students receive the skills they need for employment.

Posted in Freedoms.