Education: Recognising the "unrecognised" sector

By Prabhakar Timble
31 May 2012 06:21 IST

Every year at the commencement of the admission season to educational institutions, teachers and administrators associated with the so termed ‘recognised’ educational institutions and public funded universities spit venom on the training and educational input providers who in their wisdom are ‘unrecognised’. Little do the critics of unrecognised and privately funded educational institutions realise that the products of these institutions i.e. the students are absorbed by private enterprise which constitutes 75% of the employment market. The educational courses and programmes run by institutions that we conveniently prefer to categorise as “unrecognised” have necessarily to be skill focussed, job-oriented and market driven. These institutions survive because of market need and recognition though may not be recognised by government or the instrumentalities of the government such as the Boards of Education or universities or UGC or AICTE or such similar authorities. At the initial stage, it should be clear that “unrecognised” educational institutions does not mean illegal, illegitimate, dishonest and banned. It only signifies that these educational institutions do not have either government recognition or government grants or both.

There may be black sheep in “unrecognised” sector and if so, the market will reject and eject such institutions. There are also murky and shadowy institutions in the “recognised” segment which are immune to market threats being sheltered by government recognition and State aid. Most of the “recognised” institutions as well as public universities are adamant and refuse to adopt and adapt to the changing needs of economy and society. The greatest incentive for them in maintaining status quo in courses, methodology, and evaluation is the unqualified financial support from the State. The same acts as the disincentive for market oriented reforms. The charge of commercialisation of education levelled against “unrecognised” institutions is also equally applicable to many recognised institutions, commencing from primary level of education to higher education and speciality branches of learning.

Servicing the market need

Unrecognised educational institutions multiply in number because the society requires them. The challenge of numbers seeking education cannot be answered by the recognised educational institutions. The demand for educational facilities outstrips the supply of seats available in recognised houses of learning. This is the main reason for enrolment in ‘unrecognised’ institutions.

We have not achieved sufficiency even at the primary level of education. The ‘unrecognised’ primary schools are reaching out to the unreached in a big way. The rigidity and absence of flexibility in the formal system also accounts for non-formal and “unrecognised” providers even at the school level of education. At higher levels of education, “unrecognised” players are found because the courses of recognised institutions have not kept pace with the needs of the economy. Traditional universities and Boards of Education have not come forward with educational packages to answer the growing and diverse manpower needs of the service industry and the sunrise sectors. Their bureaucratic structure and priority for information based curriculum as opposed to skill makes them ill-equipped to deal with the emerging challenges. They are more obsessed with certification in the form of diploma or degree rather than course content, design and expected skill outcomes.  This gap is attempted to be met by new educational institutions established with private initiative in the field of Health, Nursing, Hospitality and Tourism, Aviation, Business Management, Service Marketing, Information Technology and a host of Para-medical and Para-engineering areas whose primary focus is to exploit the market need.

There is no doubt that the “unrecognised” educational institutions have provided trained and skilled manpower to the different sectors of the economy, if not more than at least in equal number as that of the recognised institutions. They have also made the life and careers of thousands of aspiring youth by providing employable skills though the certification awarded after completion of the programme would fall short of the much sought after degree. As a contrast, there are umpteen instances wherein degrees awarded by recognised institutions have miserably failed to provide gainful avenues of earning to the youth and no public university or institution run on public funds is prepared to measure its performance on such norms of accountability.

Quality related issues

The presence of public funding and recognition from government does not ipso facto ensure quality of education. Around 40% of recognised institutions may not even meet the expected minimum norms of quality of teaching and infrastructure. The quality variations are so grave that the Ph.Ds. holders of some public universities do not come to the level of graduates of many other institutes. I do not think anybody would contest this. A large percentage of our recognised educational institutions are teacher and employee oriented. They are not prepared to understand that their customer is the student.  

Recognised high schools boast of rankers and great scores of their pupils. They hide the fact that these results were due to the efforts of their students and the “unrecognised” coaching schools.  No public authority gives recognition to institutions which coach and train youth to appear for competitive examinations. They are all ‘unrecognised’ centres of education which facilitate the youth to National and State level institutions of excellence. None of our recognised educational institutions come forward to provide such services.

I am not making a full proof case for “unrecognised” educational institutions. Standards of education, teaching and learning can be maintained well in recognised institutions due to better systems and supervisory mechanisms. I am also aware that a student completing the certification in an “unrecognised” institution would not be eligible for higher studies in Indian universities and also for government jobs. However, the private sector is open for jobs and careers as they give more weightage to skills and knowledge and do not go by the certificate/diploma/degree. Many private sector houses make it an unwritten policy not to entertain degree holders of certain universities, though recognised.

Expand & diversify recognition

A few things are clear. The present type of recognised educational institutions will not suffice to meet our manpower and skill formation needs. ‘Unrecognised’ educational institutions also satisfy the present need and should not be looked at with suspicion and distrust. They stand ‘unrecognised’ because we have failed to come forward with regulatory mechanisms.

Three decades back, private banks were viewed likewise. The situation has reversed and we now expect the nationalised banks to ape the efficiency and productivity levels of private sector banks. Insurance sector is no longer the government monopoly. Financial and share markets have undergone a sea change. A decade back multi-speciality private hospitals were accused of commercialising health. Today, it is the fastest growing industry. What is expected from the government is to establish supervisory bodies and redress mechanisms.

A similar pattern should evolve in respect of growing private educational institutions at all levels of education. The government needs to establish a suitable Board to provide recognition for the disciplines not covered by existing Boards of Education. The State University should come out with solutions of accreditation to such emerging courses and institutions with modified and renovated requirements rather than harping on the outdated conditions of affiliation or accreditation. When we have not put any system or authority of recognition in place, why tease and torment institutions which serve the need? “Unrecognised” does not mean that they are not liable to the laws of business, considering that these institutions are in the “business” of education.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Sir , your article is excellent and has highlighted lots of important issues . But how about the teachers involved in bringing about this dynamic change . Is there any security to their job , are they paid as per norms of UGC/ AICTE ? Is their service accounted when they get jobs in Govt aided colleges or Universities ? Do they enjoy all the benefits as offered in Govt aided programmes ? Answer is "NO" . They are USED by the Principals of Colleges for their benefits depriving of their rights as per what they deserve . You can see this in Self Finance courses like BCA , BBA , MSc , MCom etc ,run across different colleges in Goa .

- Arjun kamat, Mapusa | 04 th August 2012 13:21


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