Cakewalk Degrees – Commercializing the Education Business

By GovernanceToday
In Cover Story
May 7, 2015
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Teaching has always been known as a noble profession, a profession which serves a great social purpose. A certified teacher is the bedrock of this profession. However, in today’s fast growing world where things turn out to be quick and easy, even getting a degree has become as easy as pie, aided by dubious institutes and colleges. Thanks to these colleges, aspirants are getting teaching degree such as B.Ed. and BTC with ease. Needless to say, such teachers play havoc with education and children’s trust.

cakewalksThe emphasis being laid on school education by the government has resulted in a great rise in demand for qualified teachers, across country. The rise in demand has also been aided by the parallel rise of the private school network. In turn, this has resulted in a massive increase in students’ interest in teachers’ degrees such as B.Ed. and Basic Teaching Certificate (BTC). And to cater to this huge increase in demand, a large number of shady institutes and study centers have emerged which assure good results, a more innocuous way of saying they basically sell these degrees. And such institutes and study centers have a strong presence in most Tier I and Tier II cities in the country.

Thanks to such entities, today it has become a cakewalk to get a degree in B.Ed. and BTC. The norms mandatory for B.Ed. colleges are barely followed by the colleges, who flout the rules set by the regulatory bodies with incredible impunity. Not surprisingly therefore, thousands of students who graduate from these private B.Ed. and BTC colleges secure unusually high percentage in their examination. The way degrees are awarded to the students through easiest possible ways is the best strategy to attract aspirants. One does not have to bother about one’s class attendance or even academic track record if one wants to pursue in these so called educational institutions. In short, these colleges have turned out into money minting machine, putting academic degree on sale.

Fake Degree Menace

Several cases of fake degrees and governments trying to deal with the menace have been witnessed in different states over the last few years. Teachers who were appointed in various government schools were even charged for submitting forged degrees to grab the job. In Bihar, Up to 20,000 teachers were reported to have been hired on forged degrees. There were around 95 other such teachers among the 32,127 appointed by Bihar in March-April 2012, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 2010 order to appoint 34,540 teachers, who got their B.Ed degrees either before their birth or before the likely age of 21. Similarly, last year, an institute called Odisha Distance Education Centre (ODEA) was raided by the state police as it was offering B.Ed. degrees from some educational institute of Andhra Pradesh. Another strategy which many colleges adopt is to accept twice as many students as they are allowed by the authorities. While this means insufficient infrastructure for all, making the academic quality very low, the profit for the institute increases a lot. And because there is not much supervision by authorities, these institutes don’t face much threat. There is an immediate need to tighten noose around these colleges.

Government’s initiatives

There is a bigger role to be played by the government, especially the governing bodies of the education sector to overcome this menace and help raise the quality in institutes providing educational training. The move of the HRD Ministry to introduce National Academic Depository Bill in wake of fake degrees scams is a welcome step in this regard. The bill was initiated in the year 2011 by KapilSibal, the then HRD Minister, but was gathering dust since. This would hopefully curb the frauds and if successful, would help employers access a verified database for all academic degrees in India.

The NAD Bill provides for the establishment of an electronic database of all academic awards. This will help in verifying the awards and their authenticity. It will include passing out certificates, mark sheets from every academic institution. Xth, XIIth, Bachelors, Masters and professional degrees like engineering, law, and medicine will also be included. The bill is waiting for the cabinet nod.

Way out to overcome such loopholes

In this digital learning world if degrees like B.Ed. and BTC can be offered online alike Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which is a new medium for course delivery and learning and without any cost, it can surely be of great help for students. This can be an opportunity for students to participate in the course with high quality content and interactive tools for learning. This will shake many institutions whose business model are based on distributing degrees by charging hefty fees from the aspirants. But in any case, the governing bodies of the education sector like MHRD, UGC etc. should keep an eye on the education centers who offer degree on these courses so that it is not misused.

The government is taking the initiative to provide jobs to the youth by opening job opportunities in the primary schools to bridge the gap between students and teachers in different states of the country. For example, the UP government has already started the process of appointing over 75,000 teachers in primary schools. The basic qualification required to qualify for the post is graduation with a B.Ed degree. In order to grab opportunities like these people come up with forged B.Ed. degrees. This is a menace that many states are facing now. In places like Bihar, UP, Odisha, Rajasthan and many more, cases were found where the candidates got jobs through fake educational and professional degrees. Most of the selected candidates had produced degrees from blacklisted institutions that did not confirm to the government norms. The blacklisted institutes included many in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal as well. In most of the cases, candidates had graduated with third division in graduation. However, in their B.Ed. The degrees they had shown remarkable brilliance and all of them had scored over 80 per cent marks. The urgent need is to make an inquiry into the recruitment made and on the degrees awarded by the universities; it could lead to the unearthing of another major scam in recruitment.