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Do Degrees Awarded By Indian Colleges Hold Any Real Value?

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Indian colleges are an arena between professors and students. While on the one hand, some professors keep looking for ways to torture students, on the other hand, students find every way to avoid them because they want to pass the exam in some way or the other.

The college only gives you a degree/diploma and nothing else. Whatever knowledge is to be taken, the students take by the book or self-study or by going to coaching institutes. Most students go to college only to complete the criteria of 75% attendance. If this attendance rule is removed, colleges all over the country might just become deserted. When colleges started failing in providing value to students, students stopped going to colleges and hence, these colleges imposed a mandatory attendance rule. “We don’t give you anything but you have to come,” said colleges. This is hypocrisy.

Representational image.

One has to make assignments in college without any reason. Those assignments hardly help in life. I do not understand why they force us to make assignments because frankly, they are only a wastage of paper, money and trees. We make assignments many times and get them checked by the professor and then the professor does not even open them. I cannot begin to fathom the kind of studying happening in our colleges.

Schools are way ahead than colleges in wasting paper. We fill so many notebooks from LKG to 12th and it gets wasted, all calligraphy, question and answer, essay, notes, stories, giddy verses, summary and poetry have ruined how many pages/paper/trees.

Classes in colleges are like this: The professor comes to class, opens projector slides and starts a slideshow, those slides are outdated, they can be considered outdated because information changes regularly and especially in medical science. So no one pays attention to those slides, everyone keeps reading either their own coaching notes below the desk, some play games, couples do their own activities, some sleep because they have studied whole night in the library because the class is just a waste of time and nothing else.

Professors come with an assistant who carries a laptop and connects it. 20 mins are wasted in this procedure, they do nothing and just keep running the old slide and pass time. The government will give them a salary, whether they teach us or not. They frequently get angry without reason and then make any student stand up, throw them out of class and do not give attendance, which reduces their attendance forbidding them to sit in the exam. It wastes their years, money, some of them end up getting depressed, some die by suicide and some quit studies or are terminated from college.

Yes, I understand that all professors don’t do this but this is an observation I have made in my years of study and observing around. There are many genuine professors and I am not disrespecting anyone.

a group of college students sitting together
Representational image

A child prepares for 3-4 years in coaching, cracks NEET only to get terminated from MBBS because of attendance. In the name of the attendance, professors make life hell for students enough to affect their mental health. Why do people go to college? To get a job? No, look, you will get a degree by going to college and because of that degree, you can fill the form for the government job. So, college is eligibility criteria, not the knowledge criteria.

For example, in Haryana Staff Selection Committee, Group D, if you want the job of a clerk, there is a difficult test for the same. You need coaching for it and even then, you don’t make through. It has happened in my house, with my brothers and sisters and friends.

Just a few days ago, when the Group D recruitment was held in Haryana, crores of students applied for the job for a few thousand posts. Now you can understand that coaching has such a big role but what is the role of college? The college has done nothing. College only gives a degree so that you will become eligible to fill the exam form. It’s a hard reality. If the government makes the eligibility criteria 12th class passing for every exam, then no one will go to college especially those who go only for jobs.

Even if you don’t do a job and start your own business, the knowledge of college doesn’t come in use. Professors during viva show the utmost bad behaviour. If someone is bald or if the beard is not clean, the shirt is unbuttoned, the roll number badge is absent from the packet, the shirt is folded from the arm, long hairs are not tied, someone is wearing a lipstick, nail polish or has long nails, the professor may fail you without even checking your knowledge.

You might think that this teaches discipline to students but when the same teacher sends a love proposal to the girl students to make them his girlfriend, asks for hot pictures, drinks and smoke with students, speaks abusive Haryanvi words in ​​the viva, then where does this discipline go? Sometimes,  professors even ask your rank/category and judge your knowledge based on the same. How is any of this fair?

Why is that a college Dean finds it within their power to restricate you without any reason, putting any amount of fine anytime? Why is it that a teacher can take leave on getting sick anytime any amount of days, but students are judged for doing the same? Why is a student’s illness their own burden? And, god forbid, you fall sick during exams, you have to fight two evils: sickness and the team on the other side. Why do the students suffer due to such systemic flaws? How will students not fail then? Who is to blame for the year getting wasted?

I have completed most of my studies and syllabus so far in the lockdown only. But even then, the online classes are not stopping chasing us, along with the duty in our hometown to help deal with the pandemic. Sometimes, internet connection falters in class and the teacher marks us absent. Many times when they ask you questions, it requires a textbook which is kept in the hostels due to the pandemic. But who will consider that? Instead, they mark you absent, yet again. Sometimes, even if there is background noise, you’re marked absent without considering the fact that your house is small and it’s only normal for that noise to be present.

Many school children did not have a phone and schools pressurized them to buy one. Despite the fact that a lot of parents lost jobs and faced a financial crunch, parents tried to arrange it, sometimes even by taking a debt, selling cattle.

You may be thinking that your professor teaches you well! But every college is not like this. Yes, they may be teaching you very well because there are brilliant teachers in India but still one may not pass any competitive exam. Because to pass the test, you need good teaching + teaching daily + daily homework + well-arranged notes + timely mock test + self-study for hours. This system is not available in college. Most of the times, only a coaching institute can do this but that is not possible due to attendance in college. We need a good system, not just good teachers.

Even after all these efforts, students are not getting selected in these exams due to competition. And who will do so much hardwork? Government institutes? No, only coaching institutes can do so much hard work, of course, they are doing business, but education has become a business. Because frankly, I feel that given the education system in India, with the knowledge of college, you cannot pass any tests, interviews, or anything in life.

Many students want for no attendance rule to hold so that we do not have to attend the college and we can self-study and in coaching centres comfortably. College is only a burden today where both money and time get wasted. I feel that the government should spend more money on coaching centres rather than colleges.

college students in line for admission
Representational image.

You must be thinking that top college students do not go to coaching centres but that’s not true. You can ask any student of AIIMS Delhi and will find MBBS coaching app present in their phone. You can do a survey in “DAMS” Delhi, “DBMCI” coaching centre which is the academy of MBBS students for the coaching of PG entrance exam after MBBS. Find for yourself how many students belong to AIIMS, MAMC, UCMS, LHMC and Delhi-NCR College and take coaching. Special sessions for these colleges are also present sometimes.

NEET PG is a test after MBBS without which just MBBS is nothing these days. They don’t touch patients, they only make paper slip ordered by PG doctors. This can be confirmed by going to any medical college and observing. The fees for NEET PG coaching is between 50,000 to 1 lakh just for classes; this doesn’t cover mock tests and notes. This is the reason why MBBS students don’t have skills these days because their entire focus is on NEET PG, so whatever they learn, they learn after NEET PG.

If they focus on learning skills during MBBS, then how will they crack tests because it’s MCQ based and it checks one’s Ratttafication(rote learning) knowledge. Now if MBBS seats increase in the country, there is no need to be happy because the treatment is done by the doctors only who become specialists by Post Graduation (PG) after NEET PG that is after MBBS, and these NEET PG seats aren’t increasing so much, and the general public is not aware why hospitals are so crowded. Why are women giving birth on the stairs of the hospital?

The total government MD MS diploma seats are 18657, most of them are non-clinical teaching staff, so government PG clinical seats are about 10,000 in the whole country. So, one can say that India produces 10,000 working doctors per year who really do treatment of patients, even though the true number is higher.

In India, the government spends all its money on the professors, gives them a big salary, a large office equipped with RO machines, AC. The professors stay there for a few hours a day and then lock and go. They get flats to live and if they don’t avail that, they are given money equal to the rent. They also get festival bonuses, extra allowance and free holidays.

But what is in store for the students? They even have to buy books with their own money; the library does not have all the books. And even if it does, every student cannot take it because of insufficient quantity. Many times, students go home after issuing a book and then they submit the book very late after coming back to the college. A fine gets imposed on them. If they fail to pay it, the college does not them give any book in future.

I am doing my MBBS 3rd year in a government college. We live in a hostel with 3 people in 1 room, 3 people in the side room with 6 people using the same bathroom. That’s why it’s so difficult to reach class at 8 AM in the morning. And sometimes, when a student is late even by one minute, professors don’t give attendance. It is also extremely difficult to study in such a crowded hostel room. Many times, there is no hot water in winters, and sometimes, no water at all.

I used to study in a different college of veterinary science where we were allotted a single room for 8 students, with three washrooms for less than 25 students. Half of them would be in terrible conditions with no water, many times. Even today, my juniors tell me how the condition hasn’t changed.

All the money is being spent on the professors, not on the students, besides the budget of billions of rupees issued which feeds into corruption. These professors also have the support of the administration. If colleges can’t do anything for students, the least that can be done is the removal of the attendance rule so that students can manage their own expenditure by a part-time job and the like.

Note: Knowledge cannot be purchased with money, but books can be purchased and teachers can be hired by money. That is the source of knowledge and without that source, knowledge cannot be obtained.

Featured image is for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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