Accelerating Feedback Mechanism

Kashmir Magazine

With an aim to make the ongoing session as “Academic Excellence Year”, the government of J&K has rolled out a four-point feedback accountability mechanism in the Higher Education Department. Principal Secretary, Higher Education & Information J&K, Rohit Kansal, talks with Kashmir Magazine on several issues and hopes the challenges will be defeated and the bond of stakeholders of the educational eco-system will be made stronger. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

KNS: What measures government has taken to upgrade the standard of higher education in J&K?

Kansal: We are aware that the National Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 has been imposed across the country but simultaneously I want to put this fact on record that J&K has emerged as a leader in imposing the NEP. With this initiative we have rolled out four to five things which include multidisciplinary curriculum, skill based program, student-based feedback, teacher-based feedback, etc in our education system to make stakeholders accountable.

KNS: Several colleges are yet to get NAAC accreditation. When will they be roped in?

Kansal: We have National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) which assesses and accredits Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) on merit. We have 142 colleges in J&K who will be accredited in times to come. Among them 50 colleges are newly opened who will get accreditation next year. Out of the remaining 90, we have 54 colleges already accredited while 26 are in the pipeline. Once inspection teams of NAAC visit J&K the left-out colleges will be accredited under NAAC.

KNS: What kind of reformative measures are under consideration?

Kansal: The J&K have 6 A grade colleges in far-off areas. In Poonch there is A grade college, similarly in Surankote there is B ++ grade college. Similarly we have 5 colleges with B++ category while 3 colleges are having autonomous status which include Islamia College of Science & Commerce, Srinagar; Government Degree College, Baramulla; and Government College for Women, Parade Ground Jammu. It is our wish that autonomous colleges to become universities and A grade colleges to be autonomous colleges. We are working enthusiastically to reform the higher education department. We want skill enhancement and employability to students there. It is our aim to improve the quality of education across J&K.

KNS: Is there any roadmap under consideration for upgrading educational standards in colleges?

Kansal: We are highly thankful to Lieutenant Governor J&K Manoj Sinha who not only showed great concern but also formed the Higher Education Council, an expert body which has been tasked to draft a roadmap for improving the quality of education in the coming 10 to 20 years. The expert body includes VCs from Delhi University, Jamia Millia Islamia; Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay; Jammu University; Kashmir University and Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri.

KNS: What about Knowledge Partners?

Kansal: We want our colleges and universities to become our knowledge partners. In this regard IUST, Awantipora has taken steps to the direction and they are working on it. We want research and innovation to be taken in all universities across J&K so that the methodology will be moved later to colleges. We have made 27 colleges as hub for research and 35 colleges for innovation.

KNS: There are often complaints pouring in about the non-performance of teachers. How will it be contained?

Kansal: We have taken four steps to ensure accountability and transparency in the education system. You will never see such a mechanism in any department nor was it introduced in the past. Undoubtedly, we too had received complaints that teachers reach colleges late. First we introduced Aadhar based biometric attendance in all colleges of J&K. It will provide us exact details about the entry and exit of a teacher. The government will never hesitate in taking action against those involved in dereliction of duties. Second, we started to get feedback from students online. Among 2 lakh students the department has received feedback from 1 lakh. Students have been asked to give feedback about teaching services whether they are satisfied with the teacher? Third, teachers have also been directed to give their feedback on whether they are providing a conducive atmosphere in colleges, about the condition of staff rooms, internet, classrooms, toilets, water, electricity etc. Furthermore principals too have been roped in the feedback process. They give reports about teachers and their performances. We can say the government has initiated a 360 degree feedback mechanism with a purpose to identify problems and address them promptly.

KNS: The Kashmir valley has witnessed a surge in drug abuse. What measures have you taken to save students from this poison?

Kansal: The J&K administration has recently launched ‘Nasha Mukt Abhiyan’ under which awareness programs were carried out. Besides, counseling sessions were done and advisories were issued to students. This Abhiyan is aimed to encourage youth to stay away from drugs and officials to initiate stern action as per law against the involved persons.

KNS: What is your message to students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders?

Kansal: Our education system is based on an ecosystem in which students, parents, teachers, principals have a stake. There is no doubt in this matter that our future lies with our education system. The more our education system will be qualitative the bright future will be ours. In these circumstances, I appeal to every stakeholder to come forward and play their role. Students and their parents especially have a major role in it. Parents should convince their children to go college on time and contribute to nation building. Teachers should also realize their responsibilities as they are nation builders. Principals being head of the family (schools) have to keep strict vigil in their domain and ensure a free and fair atmosphere for both students and teachers in getting and providing education. The government is committed to making this year as Academic Excellence Year.