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Degrees can't be a yardstick to measure competence
Long back, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru had said that degrees should be de-linked from the jobs and practical knowledge should be the yardstick to measure the competency of an individual.

A university degree might have ensured higher proficiency and commanded respect about fifty years ago. But there has been a striking devaluation of degrees after independence, and it is easy to understand and defend the persistent demand that degrees should no longer be considered essential for jobs. The idea of de-linking jobs from degrees is not a new one.

The introduction of Right to Education Act, which completed its third year term two days back, was passed in 2009 and came into force on 1 April 2010. But its implementation in true spirit is still a challenge for the government. In 2002, after 86th amendment in the Constitution of India, education was accorded the status of Fundamental Right but it took the policymakers seven years to give it a practical shape.

There are two main hurdles in implementation of Right to Education Act. One; non-availability of required infrastructure and two, lack of quality education. In other words, we have to understand children are studying in those schools also which do not have 40 per cent teaching staff, non-availability of toilets for girl schools in 33 per cent, and 39 per cent schools which do not have ramp for the physically challenged students. The availability of clean drinking water, sports grounds, toilets, electricity, and school building - all is necessary but in the event of non-availability of this entire infrastructure, in case the students are not getting the quality education, all this is wastage of time and money. It should be the priority of the government to make arrangements to provide quality education in schools.

When we talk about the quality education, engineers, doctors and administrative officers are set as yardsticks. There is a need of good teachers in all the educational institutions, right from the primary level to professional college and universities. Still there is a shortage of about 11 lakh teachers at the national level. Now the B. Ed degree has been made compulsory for joining the teaching profession at the primary level. If a student after passing the graduation is not able to teach the students, then how can we guarantee after one year B. Ed degree he would be a good teacher and from where we will bring the teachers to teach the B. Ed students and it has become a rituality to pass on the degree after one year of education.

KK Dhawan, a retired educationist opined, “The poor parents prefer to train their children for petty skilled jobs instead of sending them to the school. Instead of reserving heavy budgets for the Sarv Sikhiya Abohya, it would be more appropriate to give cash stipend to poor families in lieu of sending their children to the schools so that they may not expect the child to do the job at the tender age.”

After the enactment of RTE Act, all states were directed to give it a practical shape with 31 March, 2013 as a deadline and this cut-out date has expired and still certain states in the country are not in a position to implement it in letter and spirit. In such circumstances, the seriousness of the Act is that in case any child between the age group of 6-14 is not getting the education, he can move directly to the Supreme Court taking the plea of depriving of fundamental right to education and taking this provision in view, all states are not in a mood to implement it half-heartedly.

Teaching is an art for which degree is not necessary but some qualities are required and in case the standard of education has to be increased, then we have to review recruitment process of teachers. There are some conservative thinkers who hold that a university degree is essential for certain specialized fields of jobs and activities, such as training scientists, engineers, doctors, economists, literary artists and connoisseurs and administrative jobs. There is some degree of truth and weight in this. But did Archimedes or Newton, or Shakespeare or Valmiki or Tulsidas possess a university degree? Would the world have got results that are more marvelous if Leonardo de Vinci had been subjected to a rigorous course in a University?

The basic argument advanced in favour of de-linking jobs from degrees is that our education system is not job-oriented. University degrees cater to the requirement of white-collar jobs and do not impart any professional competence. But these jobs can be satisfactorily handled by boys and girls even with school level education. Then why go to the College or University at all?

Another aspect of the same argument is related to the recruitment methodology. Most of the jobs are filled through competitive examinations. Later, orientation programmes are conducted for candidates selected on the basis of their performance in the competitive examinations. These programmes familiarize them with specific job requirements and are more useful than any degree course. It is difficult to understand where a degree fits in this scheme.

It needs no further arguments to justify the need of de-linking jobs from degrees. The real need of the hour is to revamp school education, make it more meaningful and more job-oriented so that there is a smooth road for the young people from school into their professional life. And only those students who really need them should pursue higher courses. This will eliminate unnecessary wastage of time and energy, ease burden on scarce financial resources.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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