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UPSC EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : An ambitious push for values, ethics in higher education

 

Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Current events of national importance(Different social service Schemes, UGC, Mulya Pravah, NEP etc
  • Mains GS Paper I & II: Social empowerment, development and management of social sectors/services related to Education etc.

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • The University Grants Commission (UGC) issues regulations, guidelines and directives at breakneck speed that some of the important ones miss drawing the attention of the higher education community.

■     University Grants Commission’s (UGC) guideline, Mulya Pravah 2.0, aimed at instilling human values and ethics in higher education institutions.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

University Grants Commission (UGC)

  • It is a Statutory body, Set up in 1956
  • It is charged with coordination, determination and maintenance of standards of higher education.
  • It provides recognition to universities in India, and disburses funds to such recognized universities and colleges.

 

Mulya Pravah:

  • It was notified in 2019.
  • It seeks to inculcate human values and professional ethics in higher education institutions.
  • The stated intention is to build value-based institutions by orienting individuals and institutions
    • Towards developing a deep respect for fundamental duties and constitutional values and bonding with the country.

Mulya Pravah 2.0:

  • It underscores the need for utmost transparency in administration
  • It highlights that decision-making in higher education institutions must be solely guided by institutional and public interest, and not be vitiated by biases.
  • It seeks to abolish the discriminatory privileges of officials and urges the administration to punish the corrupt.
  • It lays stress on the criticality of ‘encouraging persons at all levels to think and give their advice freely’.
  • The guideline expects higher education institutions to ‘ensure integrity, trusteeship, harmony, accountability, inclusiveness, commitment, respectfulness, belongingness, sustainability, constitutional values and global citizenship’.
  • The guideline requires higher education administration to conduct matters ensuring accountability, transparency, fairness, honesty, and the highest degree of ethics.
  • It reminds administration to:
    • act in the best interest of their institution
    • create a conducive culture and work environment for teaching, learning, and research
    • develop the potential of their institution.
  • It asserts that officers and staff must ‘refrain from misappropriating financial and other resources
    • refuse to accept gifts, favors, services, or other items from any person, group, private business, or public agency which may affect the impartial performance of duties’.

Need to address the Issue of confidentiality:

●      Higher education institutions must be mandated to voluntarily disclose all critical information and subject themselves to public scrutiny.

●      The guideline would do well to urge them to promptly upload agendas, proceedings and minutes of the meetings of their decision-making bodies, sub-committees and standing committees.

●      They must put up their annual reports and audited accounts in the public domain.

○      This will deter malpractices and go a long way in restoring public confidence in the workings of the institutions.

Unethical practices in various organizations:

  • favoritism in hiring, training, pay and promotion;
  • sexual harassment
  • gender discrimination in promotion
  • inconsistent view on discipline
  • lack of confidentiality
  • gender differentiation in compensation
  • non-performance factors overlooked in appraisals
  • arrangements with vendors for personal gain
  • gender discrimination during recruitment and hiring.

 

Constitutional Provisions related to education:

●    The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution in 1976 moved education from the State to the Concurrent List.

●    Article 21A: It provides free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a fundamental Right.

●    Article 39(f): It provides that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity

●    Article 45: The State shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

●     ARTICLE 46: The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people.

Way Forward

  • Unless backed by sincere efforts to ensure that the provisions of Mulya Pravah are affected in letter and spirit, the move may be no more than a mere formality.
  • The higher education regulator(s) must demonstrate zero tolerance and act swiftly to quell even the smallest trace of corruption in the admission, examination, hiring processes or any aspect of university administration.
  • Mulya Pravah 2.0 expects staff and student unions to ‘support the administration in development activities and raise issues in a dignified manner’
  • Associations and unions of stakeholders are pressure groups to exert collective influence to protect the rights and interests of their members.
  • Each stakeholder must be allowed to proactively participate in protecting, preserving and promoting the culture and standards of their institutions.
    • The idea of collegiality must require the administration to engage with and consult stakeholders in decision-making.
  • Mulya Pravah 2.0 insists that staff and students unions must ‘raise issues in a dignified manner’.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

National Education Policy 2020 is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals-4 (2030). It intended to restructure and re-orient the education system in India. Critically examine the statement(UPSC 2020) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)