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Cool Bihari: Educational Reforms in Bihar

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Educational Reforms in Bihar

One of my previous posts marked the changes which are being witnessed in the campus of Patna University. The academic environment in Bihar continues to improve thanks to the efforts of Chancellor.

Ever since he took over last year, Chancellor-cum-Governor of Bihar RS Gavai singled out revamp of higher education as his main priority. Nine months on, there are many firsts to his credit. The Chancellor's office has made it compulsory for teachers to stay on campus for a minimum of five hours and banned private tuition.

He has taken disciplinary action against the errant teachers, something unheard of earlier. For the first time, a team from Raj Bhawan has so far inspected over 120 colleges in different parts of the state to improve the scenario.

Like schools, colleges are organising parent teachers' meet to improve attendance. The Chancellor office has made it clear that those having less than 75 per cent attendance should not be allowed to take examinations at any cost. To streamline the derailed academic session, there is deadline of July for the universities to set things right. For the first time, all the VCs in Bihar were selected after their interview with the Chancellor.

In an exclusive interview with HT, Gavai said that he would not tolerate if teachers shied away from their duty. "Teachers' primary job is to teach. That is what they are paid for and that is what I want from them. They cannot remain on unauthorised leave and still draw salary. I have asked all the vice chancellors to enforce campus discipline," he added.

The Chancellor said that he had already initiated a number of measures. "I, as a Governor, have involved myself and accepted the challenge to set higher education right. I take actions accordingly. I am doing it with my heart. Whatever I am doing is within my rights as the Chancellor," he added.

Gavai said that efforts were already on to streamline the academic session. "There will be a uniform academic calendar and holiday calendar in all the universities. I have asked my OSD (Education) Krishna Kumar to work out a detailed plan to revive inter-university sports and culture meets in the state," he added.

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Till recently, i also saw Mr Gavai's steps as initiatives in direction of revamping higher education of the state. I also looked forward with much anticipation as he appeared to try to streamline academic calendar, regularize classes and clean up the examination system. But unfortunately, some of the recent events belie hopes and compels one to conclude that his acts are also trapped in the same logic that mars our society's attempts of any progress.

To cut the long story short, Mr Kumar's who began with a heroic zeal has started to act like a man who is drunk on his power. He has been behaving like a man above rules. He has been treating vice chancellors and registrars worse than his personal servants and ordering them around. Mind it, all the VCs and registrars were appointed by this dispensation only. So the argument that “such useless VCs and registrars deserve to be treated like that” is not available to us. If they deserve to be treated like that, why were they appointed at the first place?

If the VCs and registrars get this kind of treatment, one can imagine the fate of ordinary college teachers. Again, the argument that the college teachers are useless lot would not take us too far. SO long as they are teachers, they are the backbone of higher education in the state. And if that is the case, it is on their backbone that the backbone of higher education would depend.

Unfortunately, Mr Kumar, in his lately acquired hunger for power would not tolerate a teacher with a backbone; he would crush them. How can a poor teacher put his point across when vice chancellors spring off to their chairs as he arrives?

He is no K J Rao. Rao proved himself in Kashmir first and therefore when he began in Bihar, he had the credibility of a man who was incorruptible and also a state functionary who was there to implement rules of the land in letter and spirit.

The case is quite different here. I agree Higher education in the state is in mess. But the question is how it can be resurrected. And I seem to be convinced, not with the help of threatening teachers and demoralizing them on the name of discipline. Higher education is different game. It is like working in google office. You need hell lot of space for creativity. I am also a person involved with higher education and know a bit about it. I am peeved to conclude that while malady has been identified, remedy is just so grossly wrong.

In any case, reforms can not take place with a particular state functionary trying heroism. Power can be damn corrupting believe me. And corruption can be of all kinds.

Higher education in Bihar might be in need of the heroics of a K J Rao, but higher education is not going to go anywhere if becoming K J Rao is more important a goal than reforming higher education itself.

Humility is one common thing that one can find in all builders of institutions of higher learning- across time and space. And they were so because they dealt in knowledge. Knowledge leads to humility and knowledge is also the prime capital of higher education.

The present dispensation lack humility, has arrogance in abundance and is prone to be corrupted easily.

Sorry if the post confuses you. But i am convinced time would clarify what i am trying to say. Thanks if you have read the post till this far.

I will not say much at this moment.

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