The news that a few hundred engineering graduates have applied for the post of sanitary workers responding to a government advertisement is indeed a matter of national concern. There are a number of post graduates and MBAs, who work in jobs that appear inappropriate to their qualification which is not a matter of surprise. Though one might argue that any job is a good job, whatever the qualification obtained by an individual so long they passionately engage themselves is an answer one can reckon with, it also reflects upon the huge wastage in a nation’s human resources, productivity and its possible impact on the psychological profile of those individuals which can be considered as a nation’s emotional wealth. Indeed, it is not a desirable situation and reflects on the goals, objectives, processes and the quality of the educational process.
Quality of Education has always been a matter of serious debate. With unimaginable speed in which new knowledge and skills are being ushered in, the knowledge seekers have been left behind on a hot chase. They are forced to update and upgrade their skills and knowledge running a race against time. The way the new knowledge has impacted the fashion and profile of the products, is mind boggling. Unfortunately, people try to consider the newness of the products as its higher or improved quality, which may or may not be true in many cases. On a similar note, all products which are imported from countries which do have some celebrated brands are considered as quality products which is more a myth than a reality. All these misgivings apply even to the process of education.
Quality of Education is a dynamic concept defined in the context of concurrent needs, demands, desires, values, geo-political requisites and the emergent culture of a society. The perception of quality in education by different cross-sections of its consumers creates conflicts about how it had to be conceived in terms of the curriculum, the pedagogy and the assessment patterns. There has never been a time in history, across the world, wherein people have celebrated ‘Education’ as providing its best quality, right from the days of Plato and Socrates. At every point of time, people have aspired for a better quality of education. On a closer analysis, one could easily decipher three factors that have hurt the quality of education from the known periods known in history. They are Policies, Politics and Pedagogy.
As discussed, the design of education policies has been the prime duty of a State. Most Governments intend to articulate the policies, which would encourage a linear thinking, a line of followership, a discipline that is willing to subjugate to authority – a system of education that continues to vote to the existing power. Challenges to the above in terms of divergent thinking, a tangential approach to existing practices as evinced in the policy, is considered as exhibition of intellectual arrogance, a fashion of indiscipline, a social corruption of thought culture. Polarisation of knowledge, be it arts or literature, scientific inquiry or technological innovation have found favour among the rulers and a democratic consideration of philosophies have found rustication from people sitting on ivory towers. Art and art forms which were creative, expressive and blossomed ahead of existing times was considered as an assault on the prevalent culture. Thus, educational policies have been the brain child of a select few who have attempted to annihilate other brands of thinking. In short, a kind of genetic coding of the educational policies has resulted in hurting the quality of education by not allowing many flowers to blossom. Further an ivory tower approach to delivering education, wherein the flow of thoughts and ideas on a top-down approach has directly and indirectly blocked the osmosis of knowledge Thus, policy perspectives have hurt the quality of education from time to time. To add, the mismatch between the vision of any educational policy and its operational parameters had resulted in manipulations and mutilations in its practical implementation, leaving the quality eternally hungry and thirsty.
The policies are designed independent of the pragmatic requirement of human resources in the current and futuristic environment. Concepts are ushered in which would bring popularity rather than those which would create futuristic enterprises, appropriate skills, learnability, reachability, availability of resources, geo-economic relevance’s and other political considerations. The educators oftentimes remain either mute witnesses to the recommendations of the authority that flows from the governance or for the indifference that all they opine are only to be marginalized by the ivory towers that handle policies.
Politics has often been a potent villain of educational quality. The political thought process of any country or a system, has never allowed education being managed by educators. Both politicians and religious influencers have always desired a mass following who would not question but accept, who would not think but subordinate, who would not challenge but silently witness thought deliveries and to obtain such a mass of humans, an unhealthy education system was were supportive and conducive. The chronic sickness of an education system, has helped them to plant their individual, rather medieval ideas and practices that would benefit them either as a cash flow or as a subscriber to power. The urge to keep the ideologies emerging from a well-debated thought structures under control, the political systems have always tried to implant their well wishers as caretakers or nurses of the sick educational quality. These loyalists have always subscribed to the following two communications- “everything is fine with our education system” or “We are coming out with new initiatives and programs”. Lakhs of crores of expenditure in education have not really given a worthy return, thanks to those who know the art of diversification of resources from education to other fields of activity where money is collected through drains.
Objective consideration of history, in depth analysis of literature and literary thoughts, patronage of arts of artefacts that show diversity of our existence have never been entertained by one or the other group of political bosses. They have discouraged professionalism in education, as one would find in medicine, law or other fields of social activity. Celebration of incompetent people who can be none except their own followers with crowns, awards and titles that would indeed make education a mockery has hurt the quality of education. Educational institutions infused with political weeds that would continuously corrupt the engagement with quality has resulted downgrading of many an institution of excellence to safe havens for nurturing political animosities. Conquering the power of a society through its educational institutions by their investments, interests and their leadership, politics has always played the role of a playboy in educational corridors.
It is generally admitted that quality education is a result of quality pedagogy. Though the history is evidence to the fact that the country has had innumerable number of gurus, great teachers, innovative pedagogues who gravitated the intellectuals from world over, there has been a steady decline of their breed in the last several decades. Alongside, the role of pedagogues got transformed slowly from creative thinkers to intelligent followers who would comply rather than conquer, who will accept rather than audit, who would listen rather than speak out. The political authority enjoyed in creating a psyche of fear in the community of pedagogues, who over a period of time learnt to subjugate their self-esteem finding no other options.
One other factor that brought down the quality of the pedagogues was the Macaulay model of education, wherein the objective of the classrooms was to prepare machine-models of learners. Supply-chain syndrome drove the educational institutions for marginalizing the aptitudes, attitudes and the individuality of the learner just for the markets’ consumerist needs. Pedagogues were driven to deliver rather than create, complete a curriculum rather than discover, train the learners rather than make them think. And in this process, the personal uniqueness, competencies and creative faculties of the pedagogues were sacrificed. Reflection, Analysis, Research and Experimentation were shelved for preparing the learners to achieve a set of scores at a designated examination. The capacity of reproduction of information gave way to the capacity of introspection.
Political interventions in recruitment procedures compromised with the urge or the passion that was required for the profession. Declining quality of the curriculum in teacher preparation and fake procedures of admission and awards of degrees in education, brought in a stream of people who survived in the profession rather than lived in it. There is increasing decline in professionalism in teaching from whichever angle you see, either through eastern philosophies or through the western. Absence of direction, absence of self-motivation, inadequate professional engagement and fulfilling the key performance areas listed by the departments which have no basic relevance to the job or the titles they hold in their professional context, engaging the faculty to non-teaching jobs and other reasons have systematically killed the soul and spirit of pedagogy and pedagogues. I do agree that a large number of pedagogues survive assaults just driven by their passion for the profession. However, their tribes need to be populated more extensively.
Thus, one could see the policies, politics and pedagogy have hurt the quality of education, directly or indirectly, formally or informally. One can only dream for better things to happen.