Nefarious grand design

EducationWorld March 04 | EducationWorld

The great enthusiasm of the Union ministry of human resource development and AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) to monitor and regulate the entry of foreign universities offering their degrees in India is a grand design to extract bribes and inducements from them. Instead they could easily issue warnings in the press about shady foreign institutions and post their names and antecedents on their websites. As you rightly allude but don’t sufficiently emphasise in your cover story ‘Foreign degrees in India: boon or bane?’ (EW February), the real issue is the abysmal condition of the great majority of colleges and universities in India.

The stringent regulations proposed by AICTE to monitor the activities of foreign universities offering twinning and other programmes in India will certainly dissuade the best foreign universities which will be put off by the red tape and corruption involved while the worst will find it easy and lucrative to do business in India. Inevitably the sufferers will be ‘next best’ students who cannot get admission into the too few good Indian colleges and universities or afford to go abroad. But you can trust control-freak bureaucrats to throw a spanner in the works. Let’s hope they fail in their efforts!

Ashish Mehra 
New Delhi

Self-evident boon

Summiya Yasmeen’s excellent cover story ‘Foreign Degrees in India: boon or bane?’ (EW February) made a strong case for allowing the winds of liberalisation and deregulation to blow through the education sector.

However the question posed in your cover story was adequately answered by your special report feature ‘Danger! Date-expired syllabuses’. If syllabuses and curriculums of Indian universities are obsolete and the HRD ministry and regulatory bodies such as UGC and AICTE aren’t able to do much to rectify the situation, naturally the entry of foreign universities is a boon. QED.

Zafar Safiullah
Aligarh

CISCE clarification

In the January 2004 issue of EducationWorld you published a letter from Abhijit Singh of Kanpur, branding the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) as elitist and restraining.

I would like to clarify that the council has not supported a colonial language, i.e English, at the expense of any other language including Hindi. In fact, the standards of all languages in schools affiliated to CISCE are equal. Long before the council was established, C. Rajagopalachari, the first governor general of India, famously said, “English is Saraswati’s gift to India” and Mahadev Govind Ranade, Gopala Krishna Gokhale and Bal Gangadhar Tilak regarded English as “milk of the tigress” with which the nation could drive the British away from India. Today, English medium schools address the world community in a continued expression of this vision, in the prevailing social, economic and technological scenario.

There is a section of the nation’s children whose destiny, based on constitutional provisions is linked to proficiency in the English language and CISCE endeavours to serve this niche with commitment. English being the associate official language of the nation, needs to be accessed by those who so desire.

The schools affiliated to the council have evolved to positions of eminence in the educational fraternity consequent to their commitment to excellence. The bulk of these schools are neither economically restraining nor do they support const-raints to access. More schools, supporting excellence in various national languages, is the need of the nation. There are presently more English medium schools affiliated to other examination boards in India than to CISCE.

Poonam Sodhi
Head, RDCD, CISCE Board
New Delhi

Racist self-indulgence

Rahul Vasisht’s letter (EW January 2004) about the Muslim minority in India reeks of racist self-indulgence. It is such views about Muslims which perpetuate the misinformation that abounds on both sides of the Hindu-Muslim divide and puts a cipher on reasonability.

There are no boundaries to a prejudiced mind and I shudder to think how many Hindu and Muslim fundamentalists nurture racist hatred in their homes, thereby making their children captives to prejudice. What a bitter new world India is building based on myopic racist beliefs that are cherished. Racism has no justification and little reason. Funda-mentalism is a misleading misnomer for lack of humanity and prejudice. ‘Balka-nised Bigots’ is my term to replace the sanctimonious word ‘fundamentalist’.

Perhaps Mr. Vasisht you have difficulty appreciating my argument when you are the target. The key, my dear sir, is to have an open mind. 

Lionel Cranenburgh 
Perth, Western Australia

Re-enter Taylor senor/ senora

My wife and I were very
 entertained by your brief item ‘Exit Taylor monsieur et madame’ (Academic Grapevine, EW December) but would like to misquote Mark Twain by pointing out that the rumours of our exit have been very much exaggerated. Having left Pathways World School we are now filling equivalent roles at the G.D. Goenka World School, (GDGWS) which opened in 2003. We are currently implementing the IB Primary Years Programme and intend to introduce Cambridge IGCSE courses in 2004 and the IB Diploma in 2005.

We completely endorse your statement that schools need to be professionally managed without edupreneurs involving themselves unnecessarily in matters of administration and operations. This kind of interference doesn’t happen at GDGWS and both the school and our state of mind are the better for it.

However you are a little off beam in supposing that the appointment of Lalage Prabhu at Pathways was in any way a matter of concern to us. It was I who placed her in the post of principal of the middle school a full year before our exit. Since my resignation she has become overall head of the school but if she was de facto numero uno during my time I can confidently state that nobody noticed it, least of all myself.

Lastly, as permanent residents of Andalusia we prefer our Spanish avatars to the French titles you rather inexplicably bestowed on us. Saludos cordiales!

John S. Taylor
GD Goenka World School, Haryana

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