Hope for morality, thirst for better grade

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If the Universities and colleges, which are the center of morality, start behaving unethically, it is natural for people to be disillusioned with education system. The way, in which, Malla Reddy Engineering College in Hyderabad in its Self Study Report (SSR) tried to mislead NAAC is worrysome. To certify that students of college went to famous companies to do internships, fake letter heads, seals and digital signatures of the companies were used.
NAAC found the digital fabrication and manipulation correct after investigation. The institute is blacklisted for 5 years of accreditation. Somewhere these incidents are showing the declining level of education and education system. Something similar happened in an engineering college in Vijayawada. The Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Council’s water mark logo was being used incorrectly. The college was also blacklisted by NAAC for 5 years. Now the question arises that why are the universities and colleges of the country involved in such type of unexpected activities? What happened in the past that higher educational institutions have now come down on fraud? The answer is simple, pressure of NAAC grade, worry of grade and greed to raise grade. UGC funding is based on grade of NAAC. Therefore, every higher educational institution wants to raise the NAAC grade. Some educational institutions get caught on forgery. There are many reasons for the problem.
The first reason is lack of proper functioning of IQACs set-up in higher educational institutions. IQACs are established in higher education institutions so that teaching quality can be enhanced through various means. But, when the IQAC is only on paper and is not doing any work on the ground, not making any decisions and if taking decisions it is not able to execute it, meetings are not being held on time, no quality discussion, in that case problems will arise, forgery will increase.
The second problem is that all higher educational institutions are the same in the eyes of NAAC, whether educational institutions are located in a village or in a big city. Whether 50 years old reputed educational institute or a new educational institute opened 5 years ago, all are equal in eyes of NAAC.
NAAC needs to improve its evaluation process. How can a 50 year old educational institution be compared to a new educational institute established just 5 years ago? How can a college in a small village be compared to a college in a metropolis like Mumbai? NAAC does not have any separate proven established method or procedure for evaluation of these institutions.
NAAC also has its own shortcomings, which are published in newspapers from time to time. The evaluation method of NAAC has also raised a lot of questions, though the evaluation method has been changed now. Serious allegations have also been raised on grading and activities of NAAC.
NAAC changes the formats of AQAR etc. after every 6 months. Does NAAC not have any idea? Does NAAC not have clarity? Has NAAC not received any guidelines that whatever format it creates should be stable for at least 5 to 10 years. What is the reason that NAAC has to change its format after every 6 months? When will the accountability of NAAC be decided and fixed? Frequent format changes show the degradation of NAAC.
When NAAC is unable to keep its format stable, how can it keep educational quality stable in higher educational institutions? How many problems are being faced by educational institutions as NAAC continuously changes formats of AQAR etc? For this, NAAC should think and Ministry of Education and Education Minister of India should take cognizance and take action.
However, it has been clarified in the NEP 2020 that NAAC will be abolished and another institute will undertake evaluation and accreditation of higher educational institutions, but still it is necessary to control NAAC and its activities until the situation changes. Higher educational institutions should avoid unethical practices and manipulation to raise NAAC grades. This approach will have negative impact not only educational institutions who are involved in such practices but on the entire education system.
Prof. Vivek Singh

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