Critiquing the new liberal ideology that informed higher education system in the country, Prof. Krishna Kumar, an eminent educationist, bemoaned the crisis faced by the university system and said that ‘teacher’ as an ‘idea’ stood compromised.
Speaking at the National Convention on “Higher Education at Crossroads” today [March 3, 2015] at Jamia Millia Islamia Prof. Krishna Kumar underlined the foreclosing of the options that were available for teachers. He observed that the metaphor ‘crossroads’ didn’t take away the limitations, that were available in the system, repudiating various options that were implied in the topic of the national convention. He opined that the principle of colonization continued to shape education, as the ‘colonial project’, firstly, took shape in higher education. Prof. Kumar felt that teaching has a relational character as it makes knowledge worthwhile for youngsters. A teacher, he emphasized, creates dignity and preserves certain ethos by entering into an academic relationship to widen the community of learners.
The processes of the last few decades, compounded by the recommendations of the Fifth & Sixth Pay Commissions, have only legitimized dispensing with a teacher as a key- person in the education system. It has led to an upsurge in ad-hoc teachers, running into thousands, and created an underclass of subalterns who have served uses for various university administrations. Several states, he observed, have created skewed policies and whatever little room was available for the ‘idea’ of a ‘teacher’ stood dismantled through Academic Performance Indicator (API) System which was a means for making teaching professionals devoid of any dignity. He went on to add that the alliance between big capital, technologies of communication and retrograde principles had taken pernicious forms and the rhetoric of creating world class universities in India has become dominant even as universities are being increasingly disabled to sustain any dialogue or discourse. The word ‘innovation’ too stood compromised, as it has got bereft of its original meaning. He concluded by saying that the new education system had scuttled any relational activities by dissociating knowledge from dedication and felt that no description of the situation was adequate to describe the existing fragmentation that one continues to witnesses in higher education.
Earlier, Prof. Talat Ahmad, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia wished that the National Convention of various teachers’ associations would come out with recommendations for policy formulations in respect of higher education. He hoped that deliberations would help create a vision for improving higher education system in India by establishing linkages with society. He said that as Vice-Chancellor, JMI he is always open to engage with teachers to promote access, equity and quality in higher education.
Other eminent academicians who spoke on the occasion were Prof. Abad Ahmad, Chairman, Aga Khan Foundation, Prof. Arun Kumar, Prof. Nandita Narain, Prof. M.S. Bhatt and Prof. Badshah Alam. Prof. Arun Kumar pressed for pro-activeness to anticipate the challenges of higher education so that joint action could be offered by the community of teachers.
The Convention has been organized under the aegis of Coordination Committee of Teachers’ Associations of Universities based in Delhi viz. Jamia Teachers’ Association (JTA), Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA), Jawaharlal Nehru University Teachers’ Association (JNUTA), IP University Teachers’ Association (IPTU), Indira Gandhi National Open University Teachers’ Association (IGNOUTA) and Ambedkar University Teachers’ Association (AUTA).
[This is an official JMI press release dated March 3, 2015]