Date:05/08/2007 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2007/08/05/stories/2007080552750400.htm
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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram

Higher education should be State-funded: Patnaik

Staff Reporter

Says universities should address concerns of the people


Seeks increased allocation for primary and higher education

Globalisation changing the very purpose of education: Ninan Koshy



THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Noted social scientist and vice-chairman of the State Planning Board Prabhat Patnaik said here on Saturday that the objective of higher education in any country should be the protection of the freedom of the people and this could be realised only if it was State-funded.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the golden jubilee of the All Kerala Private College Teachers’ Association (AKPCTA), Dr. Patnaik said the privately funded higher education institutions, with their main motive of generating profits, could not achieve the objective of creating “organic intellectuals” who would defend the freedom of the people.

Dr Patnaik said many people were under the wrong notion that the purpose of higher education was exclusively to produce skilled people fit for meeting the demands of the job market.

This does not mean that we do not impart skills to the students. The term ‘organic intellectuals’ encompasses every field of knowledge. We will produce best quality people in all fields, including the Information Technology (IT). But the entire process of teaching would be informed by a social concern for protecting the interests of the people of the country, and this would be true even in the case of natural sciences, Dr. Patnaik said.

He said the Indian universities should not be mere clones of the Western universities, and should be devoted to addressing the concerns of the people of the country. Similarly, each country will also have to devise its own criteria for evaluating excellence and quality in each discipline.

Emphasising the need for the Government to make increased allocation for both the primary and higher education sectors, Dr. Patnaik said it was wrong to pose one against the other and say that the Government should invest more in primary education. Studies had revealed that the investment of the Indian Government in the education sector was less than the amount spent by the previous White South African Government for the education of the Blacks in that country.

According to Dr. Patnaik, even the recommendation of the Knowledge Commission were in the direction of making education a tool for producing skilled people required for placement in multinational companies. That is why the Commission has not mentioned anything about achieving income relativity for teachers with those with similar qualifications in other field.

The Knowledge Commission has also recommended incentives for teachers, which would eventually lead to introduction of dualism and break-up of the academic universe. The Commission’s recommendations would also lead to undermining the autonomy of the University Grants Commission, he alleged.

Noted thinker and social activist Ninan Koshy said the intervention of forces of globalisation in the field of education was much more decisive than in any other field. Globalisation sought to change the very purpose of education and it had not attempted such a fundamental shift in any other field.

Globalisation sought to alienate education from all social concerns, and made it into an individual-based enterprise. Pointing out that several interventions of the judiciary had paved the way for legitimising the infusion of the ethos of commercialisation in the educational field, Prof. Koshy said such efforts must be stalled even through constitutional amendments.

He alleged that some of the minority community leaders were trying to equate the minority rights in the field of education to mere indulgence in profiteering.

Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan inaugurated the golden jubilee celebrations.

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