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“Private tuitions is a mode of spoon-feeding which needs to stop immediately”: Vice Chancellor, Dilip Chandra Nath

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Education is considered as one of the primary pillars of development, it has the power to empower and uplift a society. The education environment of Barak Valley is a mix of sublime and sorry. You will have island of brilliance in the ocean of mediocrity and the scenario is such because of the heterogeneous nature of upbringing. While some students come from well-privileged families, major chunk yet have parents using thumb impressions for signature.

Besides a few private institutions, schooling (till class 12) is still very much driven by government schools, Vice Chancellor, Assam University, D C Nath feels, the dedication level of teachers in government schools have deteriorated over the years.

Nath had a great academic career himself, which started from a Village school in Boleshwar in Katigorah. He then went to Gurucharan College, Cotton College and did his masters from Delhi University. He completed his PHD from Banaras Hindu University and did postdoctoral research from Duke University, United States.

We spoke to him to figure out what he feels about the current education scenario of Barak Valley and which are the areas the region needs to work on. In an exclusive interview with, the vice chancellor spoke about student’s mentality, shortcomings and need of the hour…

Here are the edited excerpts:

Let’s take you back to your school days, how is a school today different from what it was during your time?

I studied in a village school, the roof used to leak during rainy seasons, often we had waterlogging, but yet no student missed their classes. That’s because we had extremely dedicated teachers back then, so when it comes to differences between now and then, I would say the infrastructure has improved but the dedication level of teachers have gone down. The teachers today are not as dedicated as they were back then…

What do you think has resulted in the decline of dedication?

Well, I think teachers do not consider classroom education as a priority anymore; most of them take private classes post school hours. Also, I firmly believe that only professionally trained teachers should be given the responsibility to educate.

But then, back in your days you did not have trained teachers either…

Yes we did not; remember I studied in a venture school, which did not have any government support. The teachers being highly dedicated, they trained on duty and developed with time. Apart from language, all other subject had quality teachers; only the ones teaching languages were never up to the mark in Barak Valley.

What about the quality of students? Do we produce better quality students these days compared to what we used to earlier?

Today, every student opts for private tuitions. This is a mode of spoon-feeding, which should be stopped immediately. Private tuitions restrict a child in many ways, which actually is a huge demerit in the long run. Think it this way, you fail to solve a sum, you sit, think about how to solve it, give it another try, fail again, try again and then eventually you will find a way to solve the sum. This way you will develop the caliber of ‘thinking’, which is very essential in life. Private tuitions restrict a child’s caliber.

Okay… But then what about the ones who cannot cope up in the class, we will always have a miss-match of intellect in a classroom?

We should arrange remedial classes for such students.

But that needs to be compensated separately?

Yes, we need some reforms for that. Again, I will say every student has some capabilities; some will be good in Mathematics, some in English and few will be good in both. As a teacher it is your responsibility to better the good ones and strengthen the weaker ones.

Are private schools better placed today in Barak Valley in terms of producing quality students?

One thing I would like to have is way more qualified teachers in state and government schools, as compared to private schools. Now, when it comes to students, yes there are a few private schools in Silchar and Karimganj, which are good and produce quality students. But in the overall mix, they are handful. Only if we improve the government schools we can improve the overall quality.

Vice Chancellor, Dilip Chandra Nath in his office

What about higher education, how do you see that?

Well, I firmly believe not all students should opt for graduation after completing 12. They must go for professional and skill development courses, only the ones who plan to study further should opt for graduation. That way we will have only quality students opting for graduation and there will be a level playing field.

Could you explain ‘level playing field’ a little further?

Okay, in BHU, NIT or any other quality university, the admission process is conducted through competitive examinations; there is no relaxation at all. That way you have only good students studying in those universities. Now take for example Assam University, we relax our admission process in order to meet local demand. We want to give them the opportunity to study here, which is right in some way. But then, when you relax your admission process, you end up having a mix of good and ordinary. At university level the mix makes a big difference…

Why is it a problem to have a mix?

The bright wants to be with the brighter, so what happens is the good students leave the University whenever they get an opportunity. We also have engineering courses here but a good student leaves the University the moment he or she gets an opportunity in a good NIT. Same is the case, in many other departments, only MBA, where we do not have any relaxation in admission, we see students staying on, and the placement is also very good.                                                                                     

The student moving out has been a case since a very long time, why do you think this happens?

Students go out because of two reasons, one: ambition, two: temptation. Higher education has serious limitations in Barak Valley, so the ambitious looks for opportunities elsewhere. Then you have temptations to explore- you belong to a well-to-do family but you want to go and do a course outside (Barak Valley), which you could have easily done here also. Also, placement is a big issue here which is why we see a lot of students leave Barak Valley, so it’s a mix of ambition and temptation.

You studied in top universities of the country and taught in BHU for a while. How is a student going to BHU from Barak Valley different from the ones coming from say, Pune, Delhi or Mumbai?

See, only good students study in BHU, DU or any top university so talent is same. The difference is in command over language, competitiveness and professionalism and that is because of the way we grow up here. I will give you an example, Here (Assam University) or in Guwahati (Gauhati University), you will find people chit chatting in the library, seldom you will see students or teachers quietly sitting in a library and studying. In BHU, you won’t find a place to sit, that’s the difference.

What is your opinion on competitive examinations, students today are more obsessed about an AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination) or AIPMT (All India Pre Medical Test) and coaching classes?

I think its high time our schools start framing the syllabus in such a manner that as the child grows up in school, he or she is well prepared for JEE or AIPMT or any other competitive examination. The school should groom them in such a manner that they do not need to drop a year and join various private coaching centers.

But do we have the teachers at undergraduate level to groom a child in such a manner?

The undergraduate teachers (11,12) of government institutions have all the capabilities to do that. These are the same teachers who teach in the coaching centers and they do manage to deliver results there. Why can’t they do it here? Because they do not want to. What are the coaching centers? They are nothing but extra classes where you go deep into the subject to develop an understanding. Can that not happen in the undergraduate (11, 12) institution, yes it can, but you as a government teacher cannot ask for extra money for teaching in the institution whereas in coaching centers you can… So, we need policies, which help the teacher earn more and students not joining a coaching class.

To end with, what do you think is needed to improve the education system, what is the need of the hour?

There are four pillars, which need to come together, one: Government, it needs to provide infrastructure, bring in reforms in terms of policies. Two: Parents, sending the child to school is not enough; parents need to personally get involved with both students and teachers. Three: Teachers, we need to have only professionally trained teachers teaching students, period, and four: Students. If we manage to get all four working in synergy with each other, we can produce great results.

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