Higher education accreditation

Editor,

Although a lot of emphasis is given to primary education in our country, higher education has not received serious attention over the years. There are several factors that are involved in higher education progression and development. One such factor is the accreditation of institutions of higher learning by autonomous agencies/bodies. One such body is the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) which was raised in 1994 to assess and accredit colleges and universities. NAAC evaluates institutions based on whether they conform to the performance standards vis a vis the educational processes and outcomes, curriculum coverage, teaching-learning processes, faculty, research, infrastructure, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial well- being and student services.
But the core for establishing NAAC is that the institutions themselves find out their own strengths and weaknesses and take innovative and corrective measures to improve the quality of education and research by establishing internal quality assurance cell (IQAC). This has to be an ongoing process. But it has not. NAAC had no intention to trigger academic competition amongst the institutions. However, over the years sadly, the main purpose of almost all institutions is to compete and receive the highest grade from NAAC, even if they don’t deserve it. This has defeated the purpose of NAAC.
Institutions now are more inclined towards short-cut measures to accumulate awards, recognitions etc. to present it to NAAC and shy away from introspection and routine self-assessment. They become active just prior to NAAC peer team visit to respective institutions. So, the fault lies with the learning institutions as almost all of them suffer from lack of innovation, poor teacher selection and a host of other malaise that afflict them. There could be many reasons for their shortcomings. However, there are some exceptions like the IISc, IITs and the IIMs who it appears are more responsible and are performing well, irrespective of their funding status. Even some non-public universities and colleges are doing well. but the majority suffer from what we call as the state of laziness and living in a comfort.zone.

Yours etc.,

Dr. H S. Ranhotra,

Shillong- I

Sad plight of teachers!

Editor,

Apropos of the front page picture of The Shillong Times with headline ‘SSA teachers sleep on the street’ – it is very humiliating and heart rending to see the plight of the respected teachers who are literally known as the ‘Architects of the Nation.’ I fail to understand why the teachers should reach such a wretched condition that they had to pass the night at the parking lot of the Secretariat building after having been fatigued by the whole day’s agitation, praying for their legal dues. This has been recurring news for the past months and years that the S.S.A school teachers have been moving the State Government to comply with their demand for increase of salary etc. and now they have reached a point of “do or die.” This has compelled even the elderly teachers at the verge of retirement to come down to the streets to beg for what is legally due to them. Is this not the most disgraceful and humiliating episode for the State as a whole? Being a retired teacher myself I share the agony of the striking teachers and the humiliation they have to bear. It’s such a pathetic scene to see my teacher colleagues having to pass through such indignities. Teachers are counted as the ‘Backbone of the Nation’ from time immemorial! If that very backbone is crumbling can we build a strong nation?

Yours etc.,

Uma Purkayastha

Shillong -4

Urgent request to DGP regarding JCBs

Editor

Reminiscing the tragic incident at Khliehriat, East Khasi Hills around 12 years ago in which the speeding JCB mauled a car killing all the occupants including the grandmother, and a similar incident in the autumn of 2019, these JCBs returning to Shillong from Laitlum Tourist spot where they do renovation work are seen to be speeding on the road. With cars commuting between Jowai and Shillong, I can’t wait further but to write to the Transport Minister Dasakhiat Lamare to the DTO East Khasi Hills Shillong.
I had earlier pointed out the Ministry of Transport (GoI’s) order on JCBs which does not consider them vehicles to be driven on roads because (1) they are exempted from paying road tax (b) They don’t need pollution tests. Legally speaking therefore JCBs need to be transported on carriers with special loading and unloading platforms as it is a single block machinery weighing several hundreds tonnes and whose steel chains damage the costly bituminous surface.
To further prove my point, the bumper is defined as two horizontal bars at the front and rear of automobiles. By that definition the JCB is not an automobile but an earth-mover to cushion the impact in case of collision and to minimize death and injury. And in event of collision with small cars, it means death to all. Further, the ‘operator ‘of the earth mover, even if he/she posesses a driving license for heavy vehicles can in no way use that license to operate the JCB and to drive it into the safe garage of the owner. JCBs need to be transported on carriers and stay put in the work place.
JCBs have lighting not for road usage but for emergency work at night. Following a JCB at night proves risky as the rear headlights glare at the driver. And they have no safety signals either.
In response to my letter, I received a letter written by Deputy Commissioner Transport, GOM, PM Sangma addressed to the Under Secretary, GOM (Transport) letter no Com/Trans/Estt/89/193/Pt III/330 .dated Shillong, the 5th November, 2019. The letter begins with usual honorifics but the second paragraph is interesting. It says, ‘In this respect, I am to request you to kindly allow timing for JCB plying on public roads only after sunset and before sunrise to enable to avoid traffic congestion, public safety and danger to public road user.”
The whole sentence reads as if ‘avoiding public safety is necessary.’ What an irony! That’s what happens with English language. But this letter is not what I want. Considering these JCBs are owned by ministers and influential people, I do understand the predicament the officers are always in as they have family to feed.
So I wrote to the Secretary, Transport GOM on March 2021. As always no reply was forthcoming. The next step is to do a PIL but that is not affordable as we have to engage a lawyer. Also across the country, there is dearth of lawyers with engineering or technological back grounds. If a lay person with technological background takes up the case then public safety is guaranteed.
With election only 8 months away, JCBs in large numbers would swarm the roads to execute unfulfilled promises before the Model Court of Conduct sets in. Yes, following my letter the JCBs in large numbers return home by 7 – 8 PM when the roads are extremely busy. Do we need to wait for another major accident to happen before taking action? Do we see anywhere else in the country JCBs plying on roads? Nowhere. That’s because the rule of law prevails unlike in Meghalaya.

Yours etc.,

W. Passah,

Via email

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