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The status of higher education in universities and colleges

by Vijay Garg
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One who can remove the darkness of ignorance from the human mind and enlighten it with the light of knowledge.  Our Guru Pirs have called it the third eye of a human being, the most precious jewel of a person, the basis of personality development and a source of light.  In the same way, by considering it as the axis of social development, the secret of worldly progress, the secret of spiritual tranquility, the key to success and the path to happiness, it has also elevated and magnified its important contribution in human life.  Turning to the pages of history, it is clear that the concept of higher education and knowledge in India is believed to have been started by Rishis and Pandits in the Vedic period.  The early Gurukul system of education flourished during the Vedic and Upanishad period and the first major university was established at Taxila in the sixth century BC.  Nalanda and Vikramsila Universities were established in the 4th and 5th centuries.  It can be said that India has a great heritage in the field of higher education.  It is also said that in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and physics, India had reached heights long before Europe which they had not even imagined.  The country also had a very high status in the field of surgery and medicine in ancient India.  India has also made great strides in the field of philosophy, literature and yogic knowledge in ancient and medieval times.  The present higher education system is almost a century and a half old.  The first three universities were established under British rule in 1857, and policies regarding their role and performance were formulated by Lord Macaulay.  Prior to this the colleges were accredited with the British universities which was later transferred to these universities.  From 1857 to 1947 the pace of expansion of education was very slow and only 19 universities were established in a period of 90 years.  All of these policies were based on British policies and the emphasis was on arts education.  When India became independent, there were 20 universities and 500 colleges.
India alone bears the burden of 16 per cent of the world’s population while it has only 2.42 per cent of the world’s total residential area.  Only 3.71 per cent of India’s GDP (74F) is being spent on education.  In India, 46 per cent of the population aged 15 years and above is illiterate.  The Kothari Commission has recommended 6% spending on education. Surprisingly, India has spent the least on education among the BRICS nations.  Statistics show that about one third of the world’s illiterate people aged 15 and over are in India.  Our existing colleges and universities cater to the higher education needs of only 7% of the total student population.  At present about 34.6 million students are pursuing higher education of which girls constitute about 46%.  There are currently a total of 842 universities in the country including 381 state universities, 47 central universities, 291 private universities and 123 deemed two universities.  The number of Institutes of National Eminence is 91.  On the other hand the number of colleges affiliated to UGC under section 2 (d) and 12 (2) is 9315 and the number of colleges affiliated to section 12 (2) is 2115 making the total number 11430 out of which 272 colleges are established in Punjab.  Are  Of these, 621 are autonomous colleges.  In addition, there are about 29000 colleges in the country which are not affiliated to the above sections of UGC.  But that number is still insufficient to meet our needs.  On the other hand, it is a fact to be noted that in spite of the above institutions, India has not been able to produce any notable educator, scientist, doctor or writer of international caliber in the long run nor has it made any major notable discoveries or inventions to its name.  Could  None of our institutions of higher learning are among the top educational institutions in the world. This is a matter of great concern to us.
From age to age it is believed that education is the source of light.  As education spreads, the light spreads and the light shines everywhere.  It is also said that education is the third eye of a human being and when this third eye is opened then the human being becomes self-identified.  Knowledge alone gives the human being divine vision with which he begins to see the real and true path of life.  Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is such an inexhaustible treasure of spiritual and worldly wisdom through which we can learn about every aspect of life and determine the direction and condition of our life.  Guru Sahib has called education the power to remove the darkness of falsehood which removes ignorance and distributes the signs of light.  According to ancient Indian scholars, “sa vidya ya vimukt taye” meaning education is that which liberates a human being.  Helps in self experience and self belief.  Sahib Sri Guru Amar Das Ji pointing to the attainment of true education says that if we acquire mere bookish knowledge but pride and arrogance remain in the mind then such education is of no use. Only that educated Pandit.  Is the one who leans on the Guru and in the true sense connects with the Guru’s hope.  He always seeks within himself and obtains the gate of salvation.  But the question is whether our educational institutions are providing education with such values or have they become mere business centers.
We must remember that a college or university is meant to inculcate in the human being such qualities as humanity, tolerance, logic, exchange of ideas and the pursuit of truth.  It is the constant flow of the human race to achieve the lofty goal.  Colleges and universities are temples of ideals and idealism.  If they perform their duties properly then education means to enable the mind to find the ultimate truth which frees us from the bondage of dust and gives us the wealth of inner light and love.  These are called the higher seats of education.  It is also said that those who have some deeds get a chance to get this education.  But the sad part is that most of our neighbors, after finding this ultimate truth, have completed their education and are only able to stay at home.  We have to think about why the students today are indifferent towards education. They realize that they do not see anything further.  Because of this bleak future, they are suffering from a variety of evils.  They are indulging their youth in drugs.  His mind is getting distracted from his studies.  Indiscipline is on the rise.  In addition, education is becoming more and more expensive due to which many deserving people are being deprived of it.
There are three important aspects of the education system: (1) Student syllabus (2) Method of teaching students (3) Assessing the ability of students.  The students’ curriculum should be such that it connects the students with the social reality, social logic and interrelationships.  Create the power, enthusiasm and capacity to create a beautiful society.  The cumbersome syllabus also creates stress in students and teachers.  The tendency to come to class and give only lectures is one sided which creates boredom in the students and their creative power does not take over.  The teacher should have a student dialogue which raises questions in the minds of the students which form the basis of the new consciousness.  In the same way, the tendency to write notices and rattles only suppresses the creative interest of the student.  Errors in the assessment method have far-reaching effects on the education system.  At the time of assessment of the student, the teacher has to fulfill his responsibility with utmost cordiality. Our syllabus in higher education should be of interdisciplinary approach.  Teachers should not be limited to their subject only.  He should also have general knowledge of other subjects.  When a student studying Punjabi studies in subjects like Philosophy, Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Economics, History, and Culture, it will free us from narrow-mindedness and create a natural inner harmony of different subjects.  Will be  Similarly, the exchange of subjects also needs to be taken out of the fixed framework.
After a thorough analysis, it can be said that the government has made significant policy changes towards education as a priority sector.  Timely policies for education should be prescribed.  Human resources should be fully planned and the needs of each sector should be determined.  Make education vocational oriented.  Create sources of employment.  Diversification should be brought in education. Only academies should be appointed for higher degrees in the field of education. Teachers should be encouraged to focus on the academic field only.  Eliminate commercial access to education and implement the principle of education as a service.  Students should be provided education at a reasonable price and attention should be paid to their holistic development.  Apart from this higher education should be made optional and higher education should be imparted only to deserving students.  Ensure full respect of teachers in the society.  It is also the duty of the teachers to lead the students with full commitment, honesty and dedication.  Encourage research and development.  It is imperative that if we are to stand shoulder to shoulder with the world, we have to make a concerted effort to prioritize higher education, otherwise we, who are already far behind, will go further back.

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