The effective governance and honest leadership is indispensable for our futuristic autonomous colleges with the vision of academic excellence with societal relevance as envisioned in draft NEP-2019
The educational growth and academic research of India has relied on only two major national educational policies. The first policy on education was formulated in 1968, second in 1986 and the third in order i.e. the National Education Policy of 2019, the first during current three decades was actually formulated in 2016 by Modi 1.0 government and is expected to come into action in the Modi 2.0 phase to achieve the set targets and objectives by 2035.
The new national education policy of 2019 which is currently in draft form till 15th of August is a comprehensive initiative built on the five foundational pillars of education including Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability and Accountability (AEQAA) aimed to completely overhaul the Indian higher education system to meet the international standards in coming years.The new national education policy of India directs the state governments to establish only autonomous colleges from 2020 onwards with spirit of public service. Further, it also talks about removing the concept and mechanism of affiliation from Indian higher education system and converting or transforming all existing degree colleges by 2030 to autonomous institutions to be labelled as type 3 degree granting colleges. Therefore, as the colleges will move to autonomous status, strong, capable and merit based leadership becomes imperative. However, it is not going to be an easy task but a herculean job for both governments and leaders to see transforming the existing colleges as full-fledged autonomous colleges or even type 2 universities and enjoy academic, administrative and financial autonomy in due course of time but in a phased manner.
The effective governance and honest leadership is indispensable for ourfuturistic autonomous colleges with the vision of academic excellence with societal relevance as envisioned in draft NEP-2019. At the end it is the effective leadership that will matter and influence the true outcome of the policy initiatives in terms of institutional growth and success of autonomous colleges. The significant factors in the academic success and eminence of any higher educational institution are its able leadership, competent faculty and motivated students. The relationship between the three must be coherent and in a position to recognise the mutual needs and expectations of one another. Ignoring or avoiding one another’s requirements or not honouring their aspirations hamper the institutional functioning.
However, the immediate pressure will surely come on the shoulders of the faculty to bear the stress and responsibilities of ensuring the transformation of affiliated colleges as autonomous colleges. Therefore, college leaders (principals) and faculty (teachers) shall have to work in coordination obeying the ethics of institutional functioning. In this perspective the leaders must honour the faculty and value their needs and requirements. Faculty should get enough of the support with better work place atmosphere and safe occupational health. The working environment in the institutions must be conducive, serene and provided with adequate infrastructure and facilities including those of recreation and food. No divide between urban/city and rural institutions should be entertained instead the rural colleges and their faculty and students must be provided with the equal facilities and infrastructure to see them prospering and growing on the same scale as is enjoyed by the city institutions.
The leadership must give due consideration to merit and performance based work culture of teachers. They should motivate and encourage faculty and students at every step of institutional functioning. Similarly, due and timely consideration to career progression and promotion of faculty must be their priority to expect achieving an institutional excellence. It is a matter of fact that in absence of a motivated faculty, dreaming of institutional excellence will look too remote. By timely awarding them career progression, the faculty will feel really empowered to use enough of the potential in curriculum designing and pedagogy, which are again a must for institutional progression.
Overall an institutional leader should be high in spirits, enthusiastic, decorated with ethics of leadership, highly competent with true capability of leading and running an educational institution. In this direction the draft NEP-2019 stresses on revamping of existing selection norms of higher education leaders including principals. It lays down guidelines for a fair mechanism of appointment of highly competent academic leaders based on rigorous, impartial and competency based processes emphasising on merit, management and leadership capacities and not merely on the basis of seniority which is presently in practice. In this regard the draft NEP-2019 looks quite promising and granting self-governance and effective leadership will help in restoring the loss glory of public sector colleges and enable them excel in academics and research without any external interference or influence from policymakers and bureaucrats. Fulfilling this, an independent board of governors as an apex body will be created in all types of higher education institutionsthat shall ensure that no external political and government influence occurs in the administrative, academic and financial matters of these institutions.
However, time will tell itself if it is going to happen in reality that that self-governance and autonomy will be allowed to flourish within the compromised and politically motivated governance system of the country. It will be also quite interesting to witness the principles of good governance overhauling the Indian college sector by providing them with meritorious and competent leadership.
(Author is Assistant Professor of Zoology)