Creating a mess in an academic institutions


Himalayan News Service

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It needs no reiteration that the educational institutions, especially the universities, should remain out of the political arena. The recent resignation of Kathmandu University (KU) Vice Chancellor Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma has raised the eyebrows of all. The attention has been drawn because of the sudden resignation of VC Sharma, preceded by that of the Dean of the Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University and the agitation by the Patan Hospital doctors and health workers against the appointment of the rector by the VC of Patan Academy of Health Sciences (PAHS). The academic sector seems to be in throes because of the seemingly ever-present political interference. This is all the more evident from the acts of the Maoist-led government headed by PM Baburam Bhattarai, which can be gleaned from the similar nature of incidents following each other in succession, in three educational institutions—all of which are established names.

Dr. Sharma’s resignation as KU VC, when he still had two years of his tenure still remaining, is a direct pointer to how much PM Bhattarai is hell bent on getting his men on the top ramps of the various universities. It is true that this may be appropriate to some extent for public institutions, but for private ones it is quite deplorable. Dr. Sharma’s case, or any other two above mentioned references, plainly shows the UCPN (Maoist) flexing its muscles for the appointment of its men.

To toe such a line is tantamount to trying to lower the quality peg of the universities. Now, with the partisan interests that rule the UCPN (M), and the Chancellor and VC being the prime minister and the pro-chancellor of the same party, such a state of affairs has materialised. Of course, the tendency of sharing of top portfolios of the universities among the major political leaders’ choice is also to blame to a great extent. Moreover, honorary posts need not have emboldened the government to meddle in the affairs of the universities.

The private universities ought to be allowed to conduct their affairs in their own way and in accordance with the laws of the land, and democratically, that is to say in an accountable and transparent manner. But, here it is seen that the government feels that it must be a dominating force irrespective of whether the institutions suffer because of this. That is typical of the mindset removed from logic or reason, when they themselves should have gone for allowing the private universities to have their own management setup without the direct control of the government.

It can be easily visualised as to why the public institutions have floundered, particularly in the educational sector. Tribhuvan University is lost in its own maze because of the allotment of top posts according to the appointees’ affiliation to the major parties. This is true for the universities under the government. However, the shift is evident with the contagion started by the government spreading to the private universities. The latest victims have been Dr. Sharma Of KU and the Dean of IoM. This scenario offers no solace for the higher education sector, and the UCPN (M) is out to stamp out all good that is left. 

(Source: Editorial: The Himalayantimes, published in 11 November)