Education in Uttar Pradesh is in a critical state and much of the problem is due to large-scale politicisation of the education sector, nepotism and corruption. Making the problem acute is a huge shortage of teachers.
A former chairman of the state's Higher Education Services Commission said the rot set in when politicians and those with the right connections were allowed to open self-financed degree colleges with affiliation to various universities.
Besides, “with primary and secondary education in a shambles, how can higher education meet quality standards,” said a vice-chancellor who did not wish to be named.
Hundreds of such private colleges are unaided by the state government or the University Grants Commission. Not surprisingly, quality is compromised and their managements misrepresent facts such as the number of students, faculty and its educational qualification and infrastructure.
“Many have neither rooms, nor teachers,” said Agra University Vice-chancellor Arvind Dikshit.
“Several such colleges use names of suitably qualified teachers to seek affiliation as it is a mandatory requirement. Once a university grants affiliation, they employ unqualified persons on a monthly salary of Rs 5,000-Rs 10,000 for teaching,” another VC said. At times, the same names were used by various affiliates to get recognition.
A qualified teacher after clearing the National Eligibility Test would expect UGC scale of pay. The unscrupulous managements pay less than the amount they ask the teachers to sign on.
Calling the self-financed colleges a scam bigger than 2G, this VC said since most of the work was being done manually there was no way to check if a person was on the rolls of one or more colleges, and whether the management was using a dummy for actual teaching.
There are close to 4,500 self-financed degree colleges in UP, sources said. Agra University has close to “1,000 self-financed colleges” affiliated to it. Faizabad-based Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University has around 400.
Not all of them can be categorised as fraud as there are quite a few that maintain high standards, said an official.
To stem the rot the VCs of Agra and Avadh universities have started using technology.
“I am using technology to streamline the system. I have made Aadhar and PAN cards mandatory to end duplication and triplication,” said Manoj Dixit of Avadh University.
Arvind Dixit said he was introducing biometric attendance and closed-circuit television cameras to ensure teaching standards were maintained and to put an end to malpractices.
He denied the news about one lecturer teaching in 47 colleges. The matter surfaced after a list of 31 teachers allegedly appointed at over 500 colleges offering the Master of Education course. “On the contrary, I did not give affiliation to 34 B.Ed colleges as they did not have teachers.
Both VCs underscored the problem of paucity of teachers. However, a former chairman of the Higher Education Services Selection Commission said around 45,000 NET-qualified candidates were waiting to be absorbed. The Agra University VC responded to this by saying, “Please ask him to provide me with their details.”
The Avadh University VC, on the other hand, said: “Many of them are bad teachers because they can neither speak nor write, both of which are essential for a good teacher.”
He blamed the CBSE, which conducts the NET, for asking objective type questions which was not the real test of someone aspiring to be a teacher.
At a VC's conference in Lucknow, a proposal to set up a parallel system called the State Level Education Test (SLET) was approved. The SLET would begin functioning from next session.
At least two former bureaucrats familiar with the system, however, defended NET and said SLET was being created as a money-making mechanism and promote nepotism. “It was experimented with during Mulayam Singh Yadav’s rule and became a big racket. That is why it was done away with,” one of them said.
The former chairman of Higher Education Services Commission said that during his stint he found the aspirants very bright and knowledgeable about their subjects.