HYDERABAD: Commercialisation of education is evidently one of the major challenges the state faces today and there is an immediate need to curb it, National Knowledge Commission vice-chairman PM Bhargava has said. He was participating in a discussion on ‘Higher Education in Telangana State: An Agenda For the New Government’, organised by the Telangana Resource Centre here on Saturday.
“Education is treated as a commodity and we need to put an end to it by nationalising the universities. Today, we have as many as 600 universities with about 25,000 affiliated colleges, of which only one- third are qualified,” Bhargava said.
He suggested that universities be de-commercialised by nationalising the well maintained ones and converting the others into technical institutes and vocational centres. He said the system needed a total revamp to meet the present-day needs.
“None of the universities in India offers quality undergraduate courses. You cannot improve the higher education unless you have strong basics of the school and undergraduate levels. Hence the need for bringing back the quality undergraduate courses in universities,” he said. Expressing a similar opinion, VS Prasad, former director of National Accreditation Council, Bangalore, suggested that access should be on a par with equity.
“Almost 90 per cent of Telangana population constitutes of people from backward castes and Dalits in rural areas. Therefore, more focus should be on these areas,” he said and pointed out that the market had overtaken the debate on education. “Today, ranking of an institution is more talked about than its quality. This needs to change,” he cautioned. He said teachers and students need to play an active role in elevating the quality of education. “Self- assessment is more important than external evaluation and institutes need to take responsibility in increasing their standards,” he said. Chandrasekhar Rao, former professor of economics at Osmania University; E Revathi, professor at Centre for Economic and Social Studies; and Akbar Ali Khan, former vice- chancellor of Telangana University also spoke.