Universities And CIAA Developing An Unholy Alliance

2015-01-06

edusanjal

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When the news of misappropriation of funds by several university authorities appeared in the media one after another, many of their long time colleagues like this scribe sighed: Oops!  At this time, the CIAA is only guiding these gentlemen to the court, and unless convicted, they are – or hopefully they are - 'clean.'

As is seen in other sectors, the top brass will say, 'it is the work of my juniors, and I have not done any wrong', or, 'a conspiracy has been created around me to defame me'. Sometimes big people go scot-free, making and leaving a few scapegoats to bear their burden.

The title may sound like political rhetoric. Truly speaking, higher education in Nepal has been through charges, comments and scrutiny of different dimensions and scales. Yet, it seems like the concerned agencies pay much less attention to such 'unfriendly sounding' comments and go their way.

Go, they surely do, but there are examples of not reaching or not being conscious and conscientious enough to reach anywhere. Such examples are all over for the onlookers to observe and feel sad about the nation's higher academic institutions that run with the tax money of Nepalis who have to pay in order to remain a citizen of Nepal. Knowing that such a scarce resource is misused or misappropriated at the whim of a few chosen academicians of the country is a shocking experience, to say the least.  

Many of these lucky fellows obtained opportunities to lead several universities from different 'big and tall' capacities. Stars had finally shone on them and their horoscopes. They had surprised many when they were catapulted to the tall chairs without much evaluation and scrutiny. Partisan politics had enlarged their actual size overnight and made them unnaturally 'big' and a celebrity of some kind. 

Big chair, small occupants

There is a saying 'some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them'. This saying fits so well in terms of some of these university authorities. First of all, some of these universities were born prematurely in Nepal in the last decades. Doctors in the city and traditional midwives in the villages say a premature delivery is not good for the mother as well as the child. The child is susceptible to all kinds of malaises, and the mother suffers problems of all dimensions.

Then there is one more fitting example that was created last week in the mudwater of Bhote (also Sun) Koshi. The wisdom goes: If there is no strong support at the base, the top can come heavy or even may crumble with the structure, leaving adverse impacts on the things at the bottom.

There are strong indications and symptoms developing at this time that our new universities were created not because the need was urgent for general universities to take shape. For a thoughtful planner and well-wisher of decentralisation, good old TU could have been expanded as a system or a large family of several universities in TU's name and fame.

Take the University of California, USA, for example. There are nine UC campuses named after the particular city it is located in. Each has a chancellor of its own, each is free to develop the course and programme, and confer degrees under a statute. The State provides part of the budget for them all. Campuses like UC Berkeley and/or Stanford are ranked high in the US and world academia.

But as partisan politics began to make undue and unnatural entry into our universities in terms of appointments, promotion and transfer, killing professionalism and sense of responsibility and credibility, many of our academicians began to take the wrong path instead of showing the path to others. This has now reached a level beyond reform in a normal way.

The CIAA intervention in the documentation section of several universities is timely to say the least. In some cases, it was even a bit late. These universities tried to pose 'doing well' and even built and maintained an estranged relation with TU, their alma mater. Attempting to seize the university property was one major agenda for several of them. Instead of promoting their own system, including graduate classes as bases and competing or even overtaking TU in terms of quality, many of them remained satisfied in providing affiliation to others.

Playing horse for others

In some cases, personality clash among the authorities was one issue that paralysed the institutions. Appointment through political affiliation was one strong cause behind such clashes as mostly the three major parties agreed on sharing the top three positions among themselves and created a corruption-prone situation. Unfortunately, even TU is not an exception to this situation. It is like being a horse for others – especially the political parties.

If the government does not learn from this mistake and keeps recruiting politically anointed mediocre academicians in the leading posts of the universities, it is certain the CIAA will have to open a permanent camp in the universities with a special unit to handle the wrong and set it right. And, there is another 'if' here. What will the quality of education be like at the institutions if they are led by incompetent and controversial authorities? People are now asking such questions and demand answers.

Finally, it looks like the CIAA and some universities are having an unholy alliance at this time. If the rampant in-house counterproductive feud is not stopped, if base campuses are not opened and only easy affiliation becomes the norm and source of income, if TU becomes the source of jealousy and not inspiration, if academically middle range scholars are given the responsibility to run universities, we can only encourage our youngsters to line up in front of the foreign embassy windows for a visa. The need is to motivate this generation towards our own institutions to clean the mess of mismanagement, guarantee quality and strive for competitive performance at the global level.

[source:- Prem Khatry]