Higher education: Time to act now
Dr. Govinda P. Acharya
Higher education anywhere holds paramount importance to lure development through accessibility, relevancy and quality. It is observed that the excellence, credibility and quality in terms of education standard has been deteriorating and becoming a far cry. Operation
of universities to enhance the academic excellence and ensure sustainable contributions towards development in national and global economies has become a need.
Tribhuvan University is assumed to be a synonym of higher education. Lack of comprehensive plan and policy made TU and other universities a failure to provide quality education. It is urgent and it never waits, so it’s time to act now.
The quality of university education is in a sorry state. Introduction of academic programs based on needs assessment is not in practice. Replication of what others have done has been the practice maximizing the social cost. Surgery of academic programs and their relevancy should be determined, curricular structures designed or modified and put into implementation.
Deteriorating academic environment caused by political maneuvering is promoting mediocrity. Teaching-learning process is old and outdated, and is need of change. Practical and market focused approaches are yet to be adopted in Nepal. Technical and professional courses have been attempted but still a long way to go. Transforming institutions as creative, innovative and research oriented forging sound environment and right learning process should be the priority.
In efficiency and efficacy, the experience of Nepal is not encouraging whether we consider the resource constraint or utilization of available resource or compliance of academic calendar or ratio of working hours and holidays or library services or subsidies to students or fee structure et cetera. Internal and external performances of universities need to be
Nepal’s education practice and programs were never designed as per needs to support development internally, and to maintain standards accessing the global job markets, externally. Public and private institutions are widening the gap between people both economically and socially. Enrollment in higher education has been rapid but a far cry for many, even today. Striking a balance between social parameters is highly desired.
Almost 48 percent of population falling under the category of dalits and marginalized sections are deprived of higher education in Nepal. Indigenous groups and a large section of females have well below 40 percent access.
Programs with comparative advantages and launching them with required changes considering domestic and global demands should be core subjects of universities. Nepal’s situation stands somewhat different. Emphasis on technical education is less as against general education. Upsizing the former and downsizing the latter is highly required.
Mismatch between the programs, students’ number and the infrastructure is common. Infrastructure has jeopardized the quality very much. Infrastructural strategic plan of educational institutions is highly felt. The recent devastating earthquake has made this even more acute.
Our universities are teaching and affiliating. Universities are autonomous but the institutes and faculties are more autonomous in affiliation matters. University central management simply acts as stamping body for granting affiliation.
Lack of comprehensive policy at the centre and dissimilarity and lack of transparency at institutes/faculties are prevalent. Scientific affiliation backed by needs and common/specific parameters of academic programs has been a need. Besides, affiliation period, monitoring mechanisms, withdrawing affiliation, transfer of ownership et cetera require functional clarity.
Universities have failed to maintain right ratio of permanent and otherwise faculties to ensure quality education. Triangular consensus from professors’ associations, universities and the government, however, could be a mechanism to deal with the problem amicably. Sooner the better if university leadership initiates the task.
Violations of code of conduct by students and teachers are rampant and excuses are also common. It is high time for the university leadership to rectify the situation.
The role of students’ unions is prominent in harnessing and protecting genuine academic causes for their academic excellence. Similarly, teachers’ associations are envisaged for enhancing academic standards and their development.
The relationships between players of higher education are not productive. Similarity in objectives and dissimilarity in approach are prevalent. Affiliated campuses are least approachable to university administration.
A paradigm shift by enhancing their participation in academic areas is needed. Maintaining this acts as a boon to enhance the responsiveness of players.
In addition, there are several areas that need attention. It is also necessary to start discourses on higher education of Nepal in the context of federalism.
Moreover, the division of posts and privileges among the political parties should be replaced unconditionally by competency rather than ideology to deal with the competitive and challenging edges of the twenty first century.
source:Dr. Govinda P. Acharya, the himalayan times,16 Dec 2015
photo: The Himalayan Times
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