‘Many graduates aren’t useful to society’
An article in the Times of India today 12th Dec 2011
by Hemali Chhapia | TNN
A generation ago, the Institute of Science in Mumbai was an epicentre for high-end research. It was there that the samples of rock from the moon were analysed and the effect that sulphur dioxide had on plants was studied. Today, many departments in the institution run with single faculty members; some departments have just been shut down.
Just a few kilometres away, Sydenham College, Elphinstone College and the J J School of Art and Architecture have similar tales to tell – the institutions have seen a slow painful decline, asphyxiated by the Maharashtra government’s apathy.
The city’s aided colleges, which make up a thick slice of the educational system, merely carry on from one day to the next, with no maintenance or development grant coming from the state.
Little wonder then that though Mumbai’s colleges received an above average 3.3 rating in The Times Of India-IMRB Quality Of Life Survey, the respondents still perceived institutions in four other cities in a much better light.
There is room for much improvement in many of the city’s institutes. “Something as basic and as central as the course content is not updated regularly,” said Sathaye College principal Kavita Rege. “We have failed in making many of our graduates people who are useful to society,” she added.
While principals like Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, of St Xavier’s College, said that colleges in Delhi were spoilt for all the attention they received, most acknowledged that institutes in Bangalore, Chennai and Pune had moved up the quality ladder of late. “Colleges in Delhi are hyped up. I don’t feel that students from there are any better than those from our city,” said Mascarenhas.
But while the state government’s interest in higher education has depreciated, many universities have promoted autonomy, allowing colleges to exercise the freedom to blossom. The idea has not yet become popular in Mumbai though.
There has been a sort of academic torpor, said many experts, with teachers and academicians merely continuing the same practices that have been followed over the years.
Ruia College principal Suhas Pednekar said that there has been expansion, but it has taken place with scant thought given to quality. “We don’t even try to utilize more technology in our classrooms,” added Pednekar.
But Jai Hind College head Ashok Wadia said colleges in the city were working towards improving their standards, though they were struggling.