Using Grants for Coaching
In a sketchy and evasive reply to a parliament question (winter session 2013) about the policy of University Grants Commission (UGC) of India in establishing coaching institutes for competitive examinations, the UGC informed that during the 12th Plan, 23 Central Universities were funded for such activities. Coaching was imparted for Group A, B and C
service examinations in the Central Services, the State Services and equivalent posts in the private sector. One would expect that the UGC would warm the seats of higher learning, being set up as it was with a mandate to promote university education, research and teaching. Now, it has decided that university education also entails coaching for competitive examinations within the university premises, by the very professors who would otherwise be engaged in ‘higher research’. Why are we promoting shadow education that neither ensures a degree or a job nor, of course, has anything to do with research?
Unscrupulous multitudes of ‘hackers and crackers’ of competitive examinations running dubious, exploitative and coercive coaching centres sponge the middle class with élan. These are neither challenged nor regulated by the education ministries of the states or centre which in any case exacerbates social inequalities and disrupts the country’s education system. UGC, the last bastion of enlightenment, is failing to provide academic excellence or enhancement of human capital for students, with coaching becoming part of their ‘programmes’. UGC has thus become another lofty organisation that needs to introspect on its foundation day celebrating 60 years of its ‘exemplary’ service.
The author is President, LIGHTS Research Organisation