[Reader-list] Validity of the UGC-NET Exam for Lecturership to Colleges and Universities

Sagnik Chakravartty sagnik_chakravartty at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 10 19:16:52 IST 2001


Only Criteria For Lecturership in Universities and
Colleges: Passing the National Educational Test (NET)
conducted by the University Grants Commission !!!!!

              SAGNIK CHAKRAVARTTY

	At the time of independence, we inherited the
colonial university system. At that time, there was no
exams held for appointments as lecturers in
universities and colleges which is sadly being done
today. This exam is the NET exam. At that time, only
committed persons with a passion towards teaching used
to come to this profession.
	With the passage of time, however, things began to
change. The number of qualified persons applying in
colleges and universities began to increase with the
growing population. The University Grants Commission
(UGC), in charge of giving grants to colleges and
universities and also the authority for recognizing
degrees, in the early eighties, began to think of
introducing a test to fix the eligibility of
lecturership in colleges. Thus the NET from 1989 was
introduced.
The UGC thought that by holding such an exam,
standards of lecturership could be restored as it
claimed that persons, although qualified, with no
academic pursuit or inclination to teaching, were
being appointed as lecturers by the selection
committees. So the UGC wanted to make the selection
process stringent by making NET cleared as the
essential requisite for appointment
as college lecturers. Also, what was seen at that
time, was the growing demand for teaching posts.
However, corresponding increase in teaching posts was
not seen. In such a situation, UGC thought it proper
to hold the bi-annual NET exam in June and December. 
	However, we have seen that all persons who have
cleared the NET exam have not yet got a teaching job
in a college. This is so because the number of  posts
of lecturership in colleges are very scarce with
permanent lecturers having being appointed long time
ago. Vacancy arises when a retirement of an incumbent
lecturer arises. Lecturers are often appointed on a
temporary and adhoc basis. At the selection stage, we
see lot of nepotism taking place in a number of
university colleges, Delhi University, being one
example. In such a scenario, we see competition among
NET cleared candidates, with persons holding a Ph.D
degree from Cambridge who has cleared NET, or an
M.Phil. degree holder who has cleared NET, or an
internal candidate who has worked in that college for
a long time as Adhoc being given preference. Such
qualified persons, who have cleared NET are numerous.
But only a handful among them get permanent job as
lecturer.
	In such a scenario, with number of teaching posts
scarce and the UGC declaring a freeze in teaching
posts, we have to examine the validity of the NET exam
. I  think that NET exam should not be the sole
criteria for judging that he/she is a good teacher or
a bad teacher. 
The paper I of NET exam, tests the candidate's
reasoning and mental abilities. This Paper is not easy
to clear in one go. It needs a lot of hard work, with
hours of practice and perseverence.  Besides logic,
maths problems are also posed in this paper. It is an
objective paper with ticking the correct choices.  
         There is a provision that paper I is checked
first . Paper II and Paper III scripts  of only those
candidates are checked whose  Paper I is cleared by
the computer checker. It is a quite a   
daunting task to clear Paper I, although   it is based
on reason and logic. Perhaps, a better alternative to
this NET exam may be introduction of a National
Lecturership Orientation Course (NLOC) conducted by
UGC in all Central and State Universities to churn out
good lecturers. The Delhi University Researcher's
Association (DURA) is calling for the scrapping of NET
exam as it has been observed that many M.Phil and Ph.D
scholars cannot apply for college lecturership as they
have failed to clear the UGC-NET exam . Perhaps only
for giving Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) to young
budding scholars, such a test should be held and not
for lecturership.
Many bright scholars having a passion for teaching
just cannot apply as (a) vacancies are limited, (b)
due to not clearing the NET exam . In fact, learning
is a life long process. Teachers should be those who
not only possess good degrees , but they must be
inclined to learn all throughout their life and give
their knowledge to others. 
         Indeed, there is a great deal of controversy
regarding the scrapping of the UGC-NET exam . I have
just ignited a spark to this debate. In fact, a good
lecturer is one who believes in a  
dialogue with the student , eternally engaged in the
quest for knowledge and has a capacity to debate
issues and  has an open mind. The NET exam has
instilled a sense of competition among the aspirants
for teaching in colleges. Teaching should not be seen
as a competitive vocation where only the fit get a
chance to teach , that is , only those clearing the
NET exam get a chance to teach .  This is similar to
the philosophy of  the Survival of the Fittest of
Charles Darwin . In fact exams instill notions of
superiority and inferiority in the candidate aspiring
to be a lecturer.
          Rather a  creative engagement with learning
and teaching processes should be undertaken by the UGC
through the  NLOC. Only those who have taken this
course could be called for the Interview . Nobody
should be exempted from taking such a course, not even
M.Phil or Ph.D holders who have completed their
research on or before 1993. Fresh appointments should
be of those candidates who have taken this  NLOC . The
NLOC could be a six-month course. The UGC could
appoint an expert committee in reviewing the present
exam-centric NET and examine this innovative course.
The UGC should also not introduce couses like
astrology and priesthood in universities. Rather a
scientific, creative temper could be inculcated in the
minds of the students taking the NLOC which would
further their development as good, complete teachers
always immersed in the world of learning and spreading
their knowledge to the students. This sort of a
relationship between the teacher and the taught could
be congenial to the development of higher education.
            Universities should not be privatised by
UGC. Rather it should be a centre for creative
research in fundamental knowledges, a place where
ideas are exchanged and hot debates take place over
cups of coffee. Private agencies manning Universities,
as suggested by the Ambani-Birla Report , will not
understand this deeper meaning of a University and
would convert the university into a polytechnic and
treat it as a factory where the students would churn
out products for the market. Rather one should review
the present examination system which has put brakes on
a person's creativity. 
	n this sort of a scenario, the validity of the NET
exam has to be scrutinised. The NLOC could act as a
very innovative idea . Privatisation of universities
would remove the autonomy   the Universities enjoy.
Vacancies will also be freezed. Rather, we have to
make serious efforts to save our universities and
create teaching opportunities for the interested youth
who want to become teachers. Teaching has to
considered the noblest of  all professions as it
creates the base on which the future India would grow.
Teachers teach and spread knowledge to the youth who
would become future citizens of India. India is unique
because we see that here only NET exam clearance is
required for budding aspirants to lecturership in
colleges. Nowhere in the world, we see that such a
clearance is required. Rather, the selection process
is made stringent elsewhere , say, Europe, which
ensures merit being given weightage to mediocracy and
NET clearance. It is only in a classroom environment
that the teacher learns from the students and
vice-versa . It is only then , that is, learning
through practice, that one becomes or attempts to
become a good teacher. Constant interaction helps in
the personality of the teacher to grow . The question
foremost in one's mind is : Are we producing good
lecturers by fixing minimum eligibility for 
lecturership to that of clearing the NET exam ? Only
time will tell about the validity of such an exam.

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