By Dr. Syed Ishfaq Bukhari
Higher education serves society as the top most and eminent stage of education, which caters to the students coming from earlier stage , that is , secondary education. The chief aims of higher education are to provide society leadership for different fields, increasing productivity, developing social integration and developing a treasure of intellectuals. All these parameters serve the qualitative context. In the earlier days of the modern education system, there was a restraint with respect to enrolment of higher education. There was a provision that only fifteen percent of the pass outs of secondary education could get the admission in higher education. It resulted in to problem with access which later on almost came to an end.
No state can think about the expansion of higher education on the cost of quality, so how Jammu and Kashmir can be an exception? The recent decisions of the government regarding establishment of new colleges is going against their own feat which they have earlier made against the SSA schools and EGS centres by merging many of them into single one. If , at elementary stage where RTE-2009 is in practice for the sake of quality, schools were closed off, then how , at the higher stag, e quality can be sacrificed. By establishing numerous colleges, we are spreading higher education like that of SSA schools which will not produce any outstanding and desired results. After few years or a decade, there will be a need of an obvious measure to be used to close down these colleges, we should think in these terms.
What is the present condition of colleges established some ten to fifteen years ago? These are without infrastructure, staff and other facilities; many of these colleges are still accommodated in rented buildings. (Even thirty year old colleges lack such facilities). As a result, we sacrifice quality, the repercussions of which are simply producing graduates who carry certificates (which I call stickers) with them but not the potential to be efficient or productive members of society. Thirty years ago, the NPE-1986 gave a valid recommendation , that is, “delinking degrees from jobs” which is still a dream. The step of establishing new colleges is out rightly against this recommendation.
The most important parameter for higher education institution is placement of its students for achieving good grades at many levels, but what could be the fate of these institutions after producing numerous numbers of graduates without employment for them. As it is obvious that unemployment in Jammu and Kashmir in particular is the major problem of present era and a great challenge for the future ahead, from this we can imagine the future of this society.
It would have been better to develop already established institutions rather establishing new ones. New subjects of skill oriented type should have been introduced and flourished in the old established institutions instead of creating new colleges. Even creation of a model college in each district or cluster university in each region like North Kashmir, South Kashmir, Ladakh region and in the same way in the Jammu province of the state could be a better decision than the decision of establishing new colleges.
—The author is an Assistant Professor at the DDE, University of Kashmir. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org