Kaleidoscope happens to teach in an heavily understaffed college in Kolkata. It is so understaffed that even with their best efforts, a considerable percentage of possible classes are not allotted. Yes, this happens even after they exceed more than about 20% of their supposedly working hours as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) rules. Well as he knows UGC has become a temporary matter with something 'revolutionary' to install by the centre, curriculum has undergone drastic revision as well.
Now its no longer the 1+1+1 system, this is much awaited, hyped the CBCS system with a name that everyone happens to talk about the Choice Based Credit System. Kaleidoscope is not going to discuss the system and its flaws, because that will entail a research paper and Kaleidoscope hardly has the time for it. Let him just place his case in the broad spectrum of revolution that Higher Education system awaits.
Kaleidoscope teaches in a department with two faculties. To attain the CBCS demand of total 140 credits and 20 credit for the first semester (click here) Kaleidoscope had to set a routine in which which the first semester took away about 75% of their total possible classes. Think about the unfortunate second and third year (fortunately Kaleidoscope does not have a third year yet) students. They are left with no choices than to enjoy the underdeveloped campus. Yes, they can do whatever they want to. They can supervise the construction work, see the vertical extension or go to the shopping mall near and see how people enjoy the airconditioned built in neo-liberal economic spectacles. They will not have classes, nor they have a proper library which is yet to develop in this college.
The broad spectrum:
Kaleidoscope would invite you all to look at least at four recent phenomenon:
a. The move to replace 62-year old UGC by Higher Education Commission of India (HECI) based on no solid ground but a mere argument that "the existing regulatory structure as reflected by the mandate given to the University Grants Commission required redefinition given the changing priorities of higher education" (HECI 2018).
b. "uniform standard and quality... maintenance through systematic monitoring" happens to the second most important aspect HECI, hence a designed syllabus from which only a small percentage universities can change.
c. declaration of Jio Institute (which is still in imagination) as one of India's six Institutes of Eminence.
d. an increasing push on revenue earning through the institutions themselves - a push towards privatisation.
Kaleidoscope's case - not unique:
Kaleidoscope's case is by no means unique. Understaffed colleges and universities are understaffed for both teaching and non teaching positions and now there is a centralisation of curriculum. This is expected to result in a large-scale failure of the entire system of the public higher education institutions throughout the country.
Meanwhile, those of institutions of repute will seek an increase in the revenue earning as there is a push from the system itself.
It is not very far that a parent will find both the public institutions and private institutions charging more or less the same amount of fees and that the private institutions having autonomy have developed better infrastructure including the number of faculties required to meet the CBCS like curriculum.
The resultant factor definitely will be conscious beings making choices, yes Jio institute or the like will flourish by then.
Impact on society:
On a personal note, Kaleidoscope was once told by his father "if there was no Nehru with his socialist policies, I could not have afford to give you education even in the local school you have studied, let alone college and university." Yes, Kaleidoscope like millions of his fellow country men could not have studied if they were not given near free tuition fees, free books and wonderful teachers and no teaching uncles.
With a push for unification and privatisation and eventual failure of the public institutions, people will seek private sector educational institutions. Now it is of no surprise to find that in All India Higher Education Survey (AISHE) the grtoss enrolment ratio has increased from less than 5% to 25% if one compares it with 1990s and 2016 - 2017. There is a notable increase in the enrollment of Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) students which is about 50% in public institutions. What is the scenario in private institutions? Yes, as expected this is less than 27% of the total enrollment. Similar case is that of women which is about 33% in private institutions and 45% in the public institutions and this trend will increase.
Hence, Kaleidoscope should not be seen as cynical if he finds a dark wall in front of him as he prepares for his classes. There will be campuses with biases, rising incidents of suicides by the underprivileged students as exemplified by Rohit Vemula. There will be rise in the fees to such an extent that families like Kaleidoscope had will not be able to afford, and there will be private institutions where only wealthy can educate themselves. There will be funding available for only departments like Centre for Rural Development and Technology at IIT Delhi, spearheading the national programme on panchagavya (cow science). Textbooks will be rewritten to suit a particular political agenda and so on.