The decline in the standard of science education in our country must be urgently addressed. Academicians and politicians should evolve some constructive strategies to raise the standards of learning in state universities and colleges.
There has been a lot of debate in various forums regarding the decline in the standard of science education in India and the remedial measures needed to avert the serious situation it could lead to. Newer central institutions like IITs, ISERs, and IIITs etc have come up in answer to the decline in the standard of education in state universities and colleges. Still nobody has addressed the real problem and the fall in standards may continue in the future too. The real problem is the negligence faced by the state universities and colleges.
If we analyze critically, one of the factors that initiated this decline in state universities and colleges emerges to be the undue thrust given to research and the complete neglect of lecture classes. In most of the universities the M.Sc. students are considered as second grade citizens and research scholars are given undue importance. Most of the research scholars, in order to satisfy their supervisors play politics with the M.Sc. students. The unwritten duty of each research scholar is to enroll students to his supervisor’s camp, in order to get their appreciation. This is the research culture in most academic centres and you can imagine what will happen when these students reach the research institutions which are the real hub of political activity.
This is not to say that this kind of politics is absent in Central institutions, but there students have the freedom to express their ideas and critical thinking is given high priority. The way a teacher teaches or discusses topics in the class makes a student think critically.
Critical thinking is very essential if we need to develop a good scientific base for the future. Today’s university students lack this critical thinking; they just flow with the academic stream. Usually our students are carried away by western thoughts, they do not consider what our country or society needs. The attitude of the teachers has changed a lot too.
Lectures and the discussion mode of teaching that have the human touch have been changed to computer aided teaching. Even though computer is an essential aid in today’s educational system, the way it is handled now days is harmful. In many cases the teachers are not interested in doing their primary duty of taking classes and assign the same to the research scholars or even the guest faculties.
They are not even interested in moulding a good scientific character in them. Once a permanent position is secured, their only interest seems to be a pay hike. There are hardly a few who do justice to the hours of teaching as prescribed by UGC.
Creating new central institutions will not solve the basic problem we are facing. One of the factors that lead to the success of established institutions like IITs or IISc is the stringent screening procedures. So only the top students (based solely on marks) get through the entrance examination. But now each state is being granted a Central Institute as political appeasement; mushrooming of such institutions will surely affect the quality of education and ultimately the brand name of these institutions will be tarnished.
We need good students to take up science courses whether it is in central or state universities. Every reform should start from the grass root level and in a decentralized manner. For example, a tribal boy can easily grasp topics related to biodiversity and can contribute valuable information for conservation of biology than an IIT or IISER student whom we train spending crores of rupees. The level of independent thinking and practical skill will be very high in the tribal students compared to the urban educated spoon fed students in every walk of science.
If we give proper training to these students we can build up a strong scientific resource in India. I am not underestimating the capabilities of students of the higher centres of learning like IITs or IISERs etc.; on the contrary my point is we should not neglect our downtrodden communities.
For these people the only available centres of learning are state universities and colleges. The academicians and politicians should evolve some constructive strategies to raise the standards of these institutions. This is the need of the hour. Otherwise for we may have to lure students from other countries in order to sustain the research institutions we have built spending crores of public money, in the near future.