Protest Against Elitism:Education at Crossroads in West Bengal by Ratan Bhattacharjee SignUp

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Protest Against Elitism:Education at Crossroads
in West Bengal
by Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee Bookmark and Share
Mamata Banerjee government might have honestly wanted to bring ‘Parivartan’ to the education scenario in West Bengal but the path chosen for it is absolutely short sighted and now subject to vehement criticism. There is no clearly-charted out route to revive the declining education and bring back the glorious days of education in West Bengal. Improving Presidency University is not the only way to change the education system.

Very recently the Presidency Mentor group member Sukanta Chaudhuri resigned raising the bias cry against the Mamata Banerjee government. Besides Presidency, there are several other universities, like Calcutta University, Jadavpur Universities which also require a similar attention for improvement.

Giving one university which is still new all the facilities is only discrimination. There are other sectors of higher education as well to which the government should give serious attention. Till today it is not given.

The Left Front government started a new State University in Barasat which has neither staff strength nor other infrastructural excellence. But in an ordinance 57 colleges some of which are very much at the heart of Kolkata and in the nearest vicinity of the city having a rich heritage of educational excellence have been irrationally bracketed with the newer colleges of the district of North 24 Parganas. The result is colleges like Dum Dum Motijheel college, Bidhannagar Govt. College , Sarojini Naidu college and Sarada Mission college are suffering from dearth of students.

Better students are going to less known colleges under Calcutta University. This will surely affect the quality education in the state. It is impossible that Presidency will provide the model higher institutions in the state in spite of its rich history and tradition of which Bengal could be proud of Sukanta Chaudhuri’s resignation from the Mentor group is a protest against ‘elitism’.

The Left Front government’s government virtually reduced Presidency to the stature of ‘any other college’ and that time Sukanta Chaudhuri opposed it. But too much of biasedness to Presidency is not accepted by him. He rightly addressed the problem with a top-down approach.

Even in Presidency the vaulting ambition will overleap itself. There are many other sectors of education which still require consistent thoughts and constant attention is to be given to the institutions other than Presidency.The charges of Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri are not unpragmatic. It is not desirable that only Presidency will regain its glory at the cost of state exchequer while the rest of the state continues to lag behind in education.

The growing violence in the educational institutes across the state is a big problem about which unconcerned, everyone seems to turn a blind eye. College Principals and teachers are being beaten up inside the college campus. The Left Front government has planfully destroyed the education sector by inducting loyalists and party people instead of welcoming real talents. Eminent teachers like Amartya Sen are not invited at any time and education has become a party affair.

Meritorcracy is deliberately sacrificed on the altar of Mobocracy.

At one time English and computer were not allowed to enter the state by the Left Front educationists like Kanti Biswas and Pabitra Sarkar. Today eminent educationists like Sukanta Chaudhuri are becoming vocal in their protest against elitism and they are not getting lured by advantages promised to them by the government. This is commendable.

Decorating the Presidency by bringing in teachers from abroad is just a hollow dream and mere waste of time. The increasing favouritism for any institution in comparison to other state universities has shown the short sightedness of the education policy of the government. Highly qualified faculties are also there in other institutions. That only the teachers of Presidency will be getting the princely treatment is neither desirable nor feasible. The resignation of Sukanta Chaudhuri will prove to be a setback to the fledgling university’s search for excellence.

Human resource is an important factor and West Bengal is witnessing the brain drain every year. Talented people are at the receiving end in the period of instability and political patronage. The ultra-politicisation model is gradually being introduced as Mamata Banerjee government is getting a more solid political base in the rural area with the youth being more disillusioned about the Left ideals. The students wings are supporting the Mamata Banerjee government more and more in spite of the sharp decline in moral and academic standards in society and no real steps taken for providing employments to them.

Lack of infrastructure in basic education like schools or toilets for girl children, lack of technical education, high rate of school drop-outs, poverty and social issues like child marriage, politicisation of lessons in schools, are some of the crucial issues that need urgent address. A strengthened socio-economic base can improve the educational standards in general and vice-versa. All these have come to focus in the context of the resignation of Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri which has created a stir in the academic circle of West Bengal. It is simply illogical and irrational that the government has identified Presidency or any academic institute as a centre of excellence even before it has performed.
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