By JAVEID HASSAN MALIK
Last week, Kashmir University began the registration for JKSET 2018 examination scheduled to be held in March, 2018. Earlier, this exam was held and managed by Jammu University, now chair has moved to Kashmir University and from 2013 onwards, Kashmir University has taken the responsibility of managing this exam. This is going to be third JKSET exam to be conducted by Kashmir University. In every JKSET exam, thousands of candidates try their luck, and among them only a small percentage manages to qualify which then receives the certificate of eligibility for Assistant Professor (ship) in higher education.
Let us try to work out the worth this JKSET exam in contemporary times- for whom it is business of gain and for whom it is business of loss. Is a product worth to be sold in the creeping unemployment market of Kashmir? For Kashmir University, it is a win- win situation (the amount of revenue it reaps from this exam in the form of examination fee is unprecedented). Every student has to deposit 1000 rupees to sit for the said examination. Back of the envelope calculations reveal that the amount is humungous. The question is: does the University provide adequate services to students for this hefty amount that they receive? The answer is a big NO. An OMR sheet, question paper plus heating arrangement if exam happens to be in winter but nothing else. If the student is lucky enough to qualify, he /she has to deposit a separate fee for getting certificate from the authorities. In a nutshell, in an era of commercialization of education, Kashmir University is second to none; it is working tooth and nail to make money.
From a student’s perspective, I can gauge the worth of JKSET by starting with my own example which may be taken as microcosm of the student fraternity; I qualified JKSET in 2016 along with 14 other candidates in chemical sciences; now how did it benefit me? I became eligible for Assistant Professor (ship) for higher education. Did I get a scholarship for research? No. Nothing as there is no provision of getting scholarship even in Kashmir University. The only thing the SET certificate did for me was to add weight to my already heavy document file plus I had to face a disgraceful moment while appearing for JKPSC interview for lectureship courtesy of SET certificate. An official, while checking my documents on noticing SET certificate threw it towards me with some angry. It was a moment of shame and disgrace for me. This is not the case with every subject; in some subjects like English, the JKSET certificate is worth million dollars. Last year’s result of Assistant Professor is testimony to this. The maximum number of candidate got selected on a simple Master’s plus SET degree, due to lesser saturation of eligible candidates in said subjects plus higher number of posts advertised for the said subject was more than 100. While as in other subjects, people with doctorate degree failed to sail across mark leave aside NET/SET. Thus, the SET is a discriminatory degree: for some, it is a mere piece of paper while for others it is no less than a valuable asset.
Few months ago, the JKPSC made some amendments in rules regarding awarding points to a degree. It was disheartening to see JKSET not even finding a mention in the procedure and process of amendment. (Leave aside the points, it was more disappointing to see NCC/NSS certificates being awarded points). I couldn’t understand the purpose of giving points to NCC/NSS for candidate supposed to be teaching Arabic, Chemistry and so on. Now, this is not a case of sour grapes, so to speak but I am just weighing the product sold by Kashmir University. I hold no doubt in saying that this is an expired product in the contemporary era of dog eat dog competition. It is high time the Vice Chancellor starts cooperating with recruiting agencies like JKPSC to motivate them in awarding some points for the KKSET. Moreover, within the University, he should add the provision of scholarship for PhD to candidates who manage to qualify. Otherwise, there is no point in wasting thousand rupees among other things.
—The author holds a Master’s in Chemistry and is NET, SLET qualified. He can be reached at: Malikjavid86@gmail.com