Expiry of Degrees

Dr Rakesh Bharti
“Knowledge has to be improved, challenged, and increased constantly, or it vanishes”. Peter Drucker
Knowledge is an ever flowing stream; it is not a stagnant pool. Does the process of learning cease when an individual receives a Degree in convocation? Can we arrest the momentum and halt the process of learning? One of the factors contributing to the obsolescence of a University Degree or even a string of degrees by our learned teachers in the teaching profession is a sense of “Complacency”. It breeds mediocrity and a kind of passivity. Can the teachers become role models to students if they stop replenishing the stock of ideas gathered as students’ way back?
The assumption that merely knowing a subject makes one a good teacher is foolhardy. Knowledge of subject matter is unquestionably necessary for good teaching, but it is insufficient for being a good teacher. Teaching is an incredibly complex and difficult enterprise. Little about the job comes to people naturally. Teachers need to learn such mundane but crucial skills as how to keep their classrooms orderly and centered on the topics at hand. Most important, at the same time, they have to learn how to make the subject matter of their content area accessible and worth knowing for their students, no easy task given the increasingly diverse backgrounds of these students.
An educated person is someone who has learned how to acquire, analyze, synthesize, evaluate, understand, and communicate knowledge and information. An educated person has to develop skills that respond to changing professional requirements and new challenges in society and the world at large. So, when I look for a teacher, I look for an educated person, someone who has been immersed in books, the arts, the sciences and philosophy through a liberal arts education. Our schools need teachers who have developed capacity for critical inquiry, for problem solving and for innovation.
Teachers have always been given a special place and respect in our society, as they prepare children to be active and responsible participants in society. This profession is noble as it involves imparting the precious gift of knowledge to the youth. The success of a student depends most of all on the quality of the teacher. With the advent of standard-based reforms, the quality of teachers has become a major concern. Every child deserves a quality teacher. In an era of increasing standards and accountability in education, teacher quality and teacher training will be more important than ever.
Any discussion on quality of teacher is as relevant as discussing human life. Education is undoubtedly life. And no educational system can grow above the quality of its teachers. Teachers, therefore, as educational engineers and directors are the soul of any educational system. Thus, the economic, political, social, technological and even the cultural survival of any nation depend on the spirit and the quality of its teachers. This is true, because there is no substitute for teachers that are committed to their job and dedicated to their nation and their pupils. In clear term, the future of any nation rests in the hands of its teachers, for the qualities they posses today will inevitably reflect in the citizens of tomorrow thereby enhancing a virile society not only for self-sufficiency but equally for self-dependency.
It is a matter of grave concern that the degrees of the teachers are in question. India is suffering from huge problems with fake degrees as many teachers have now been accused of having degrees from phony universities. This is shocking news to the ordinary, law abiding citizen, because the general community is taught to respect and trust the teachers. It is very important in this fast competitive world to earn a good degree if we want to get some good job. In today’s scenario, we go to colleges and universities to get a degree but with that we forget that it is not only equally but more important to have good knowledge as well. We can get a job with our degree but what after that? We should have good knowledge to grow to the heights. As degree can give us a start but our knowledge is that which will always be a big reason for our growth in any job.
What do we witness today; there is a rat race among the aspirants to grab a degree from here and there just for the sake of promotion or to become a degree holder. Everyday we come across a number of cases of fake degree holders or the so called open universities, study centers or deemed universities selling degrees at whole sale rates. What is the ultimate purpose of obtaining such degrees? Why do we forget that mere possession of the degrees is not enough in itself? A constant refinement of the knowledge pertaining to the degree is equally important. One has to keep abreast oneself with the latest innovations and ideas to prove the worth of the degrees. It is observed that every state has opened the floodgates of educational degrees. Once an individual obtains a degree (say a B.Ed. degree), does it mean that he/she has the only eligibility to become an effective teacher throughout? Once an individual becomes a teacher, is there any need to go for the refinements of the skills acquired during the training? The astronomical increment of knowledge in every field of human endeavour is so awesome that one has to update periodically so as to arrest fossilization.
Let me remind you that when we buy torch-cells in the shop we look into the expiry dates printed on them. It means that beyond that date it ceases to have the energy to illuminate. In a chemist’s shop we look into the expiry dates of tonic or capsules. Beyond those dates the potency of the medicine wanes. We need to apply the same yardstick to the acquisition of University Degrees. Why shouldn’t our University authorities print in the degrees and diplomas they confer the expiry dates of knowledge as well, degrees must be marked with an expiry date from the date of awarding so that it would remind the holders to renew them, much as we renew a driving license to drive an automobile.
After all, it matters a lot!
(The author is a lecturer in Education Deptt of Education, J&K)