Higher Education : Challenges and Remedies

Higher Education for all, at least till the degree level, is vital today because a literate and educated society only can take us forward. However, the enrolment is dismally low due to lack of adequate number of colleges, particularly in the remote areas. Moreover, the quality of Higher Education is in serious jeopardy. This requires a total overhaul from Primary Education itself. But that is another story.The affiliated colleges of the Nagaland University are catering to Society’s needs against insurmountable odds. While it is true that a few are doing well, the vast majority are struggling with quality. The dominant factor is the lack of qualified teachers in the Private Colleges; most lack NET/PhD (UGC requirement). The Government College teachers are well paid; it is expected that they are also appropriately qualified. On the other hand, the Private College teachers are paid a pittance while being overworked. This is the reason why most Private College teachers, including qualified ones are constantly on the lookout for other better paid jobs. Under such conditions it is impossible to retain talent. With better salaries, the teachers lacking NET/PhD are sure to try to earn the same as early as possible, which will, in turn make our colleges more vibrant and society more dynamic.

It is expected that teachers who do not have PhD degrees, acquire them. Teachers are also expected to attend Refresher and Orientation courses from time to time. These programs and courses are to improve he knowledge of the teachers and ensure that they are kept abreast with the latest trends in their respective fields. Interest will also develop in the teachers to take up research seriously, ultimately to society’s benefit.

However, Private College teachers, most if not all, are granted study leave for 2 to 3 years to pursue PhD programs without salary. It is a huge challenge, with some opting to resign to be eligible for some fellowship, while those remaining in service are left to fend for themselves. This is indeed tragic.

Taking into consideration the vital needs of society it would be prudent on the part of the Nagaland Government to support the Private Colleges by way of paying salaries of the qualified teachers, at par with their Government counterparts. This is happening in our neighbouring states like Assam, West Bengal, etc. where their governments pay the salaries of the Private College teachers also. Those teachers lacking PhD degrees should be encouraged to study, with salaries, while those without NET should be encouraged to acquire the same as early as possible.

It is known that many of the teachers, though lacking the aforementioned qualifications, are as excellent as they are dedicated. It is the responsibility of the Private College authorities and the Nagaland Government to ensure that they acquire the necessary qualifications and expertise and are retained at all costs. Hopefully our dream of a well educated society is around the bend.

Prof. G.T. Thong

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