The University Grants Commission (UGC) on November 28, 2018 announced the forming of an association of Academic Institutions which will compile a list of credible quality journals and ultimately replace UGC’s own list of journals. This follows the November 14 meeting, where the commission had deliberated on establishing a body, naming it ‘Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics’ or ‘CARE’, which will be composed of government bodies and statutory councils and will be headed by the UGC Vice Chairman. The body will be tasked to prepare a “CARE Reference List of Quality Journals”.
Faced with the proliferation of substandard academic journals in the country, a problem of dubious substandard journals has become a serious concern all over the world.
The percentage of research articles published in poor quality journals is reported to be high in India, which has affected its image, the commission also said that research journals in the field of science, engineering, technology, agriculture, and bio medical sciences, which are accepted in the scientific database like SCOPUS and Web of Science, may be considered for the CARE reference list.
In the case of Meghalaya, the educators mainly from the colleges and universities across India are choking the libraries with piles of publications, more than the remuneration; it helps in upgrading the individual prospects for promotion and grading. Is this not yet another wastage of central funds, which could have been more beneficial if more writers and research scholars are being encouraged to publish meaningful and useable work for both the students and the society?
A cue should be taken from the former President of India, Dr Pranab Mukherjee, who is advocating for revamping of education system and has stressed on more research and publication works from the teachers rather than depending on textbooks written by others, more so the foreign authors. On the contrary, the standard of the education system in Meghalaya is on a decline, overshadowed by various anomalies from tampering of marks for the appointment of Lower Primary teachers to the appointment of teachers for the premier school of Meghalaya government and various colleges and universities.
Education scams in Meghalaya have been so frequent that the general masses have become immune to any fraud relating to the education system here. Be it the mushrooming of colleges and universities just to make quick money, appointment of teachers’ right from Lower Primary section to University through political patronage, even the question papers leakage in the newly introduced Class Nine Board examination in Shillong, conducted by Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBOSE) did not witness any protest or concern from parents or the public.
In the past, a survey was being conducted by the state government on the implementation of Government of India’s Flagship programme – Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) mid-day meals. In Meghalaya, the contract was awarded to some unrecognized educational institution, which in return outsourced it to students studying in the same institute. How does one expect the accuracy of the findings by some under graduate students? In the first place, how did the government award the contract to some unqualified institution to conduct such research work, while paying full fee to the institution?
Although there is a prescribed format regarding the basic requirement for starting a college or university, it is strange that there are still one room universities, colleges, and roof-less schools in Meghalaya. There is no checking of the usage of genuine software for computer related subjects, or proper science laboratory for practical classes, yet the state government never takes any action to close down such fly by night universities which are wasting the time of the students, as the owner of the institution goes laughing to the bank with the loot from the students.
Such universities mostly offer professional courses, having no qualified teachers to guide the students on research work, except encouraging those to copy – paste from the work of other research scholars. How do we expect to improve the human resources in the state? Such institutions, read as business houses, should be closed down by the authority, even the pressure groups, civil society, more so the student unions remain aloof about such malpractices happening in the state; the reason is unknown.
In view of all this confusion, the students from the affluent section of society are pursuing their studies outside the state, some even abroad. Like the politicians do not have confidence on the doctors passed from the state government quota, they also do not have confidence in the teachers who are of political appointees.
It is time for the universities here to execute the recommendation of President of India who stressed on the teachers to produce more employable youths, and the teacher themselves must stress on research and have more publication work. In this manner, it will not only eradicate unqualified teachers, the existing teachers too will have opportunities to enhance their knowledge, which will be beneficial in teaching and shaping young minds.
At the same a clue should be taken from the UGC’s CARE’s task which primarily aims to scrutinize and then compile a list of journals for social sciences, humanities, language, arts, culture, Indian Knowledge system etc. One of the jobs of the body will be to create a process of submission of papers to the new journals it will include in its list.
It is stated that all such proposals will be critically analyzed using validated protocol by a special cell at the entrusted institution and if found appropriate, would be recommended to CARE for possible inclusion in the “CARE Reference List of Quality Journals.
UGC, which, apart from being the principal funding agency for the universities, holds the responsibility of setting up academic standards and ensuring that they are followed, is battling with poor quality journals which publish academic papers with little or no peer review, a scenario that has led to a general erosion of credibility globally about Indian research, especially in the field of humanities and the textbooks published for the Meghalaya Boards also need a re – looking into.