Basket case

Some of the TU institutions are still prized by students seeking further education, such as Pulchowk Engineering Campus and TU Teaching Hospital at Maharajgunj. But, in general, the standard of education at TU’s own campuses has gone down considerably over the years. This is reflected, among other things, in the fact that near the various TU campuses, TU teachers are running coaching classes in such subjects such as Management. What is surprising is that the crowds of students there rival or even outrace those at the campuses proper. In fact, most students do not regularly attend classes in their own campuses, not only because classes are not held regularly owing to student unions’ political activity but also of teachers’ and the authorities’ indifference. Irrespective of their loyalty to TU, their jobs are secure.

Admittedly, students have been in the forefront of pro-democracy movements in Nepal for decades and they have fought many injustices. Now the country has won back democracy, total democracy in

the form of republic. But too much politics has

also spoiled the careers and futures of hundreds of thousands of students, because poor education has held them back in life’s competition. It is time the

student unions put politics on the back burner, and rose up to mount pressure on the government, the political parties, the TU authorities and the teachers to improve things, and very soon. The problem is that the various student unions are wings of the political parties and many student leaders are building up their political careers there, with the ambition of going on to hold ‘respectable’ party positions. That is why we see the same persons renewing their enrolments in the same level at TU for years on end, just to indulge in student politics.

Though it was decided to phase out Proficiency Certificate from TU years ago for good reasons, TU has been unable to do so. This year, too, it had to yield to student pressure and agreed to open admissions. Students threaten invigilators, sometimes at knifepoint, and also tear up answer papers on one pretext or another, say, on the grounds that they were not given enough time for exam preparation. A few days ago, TU published a feeble appeal to students and all concerned to make the academic environment clean by making sure that undesirable activities do not take place during examinations, ahead of Bachelor and Proficiency Certificate final examinations. Such appeals will fall on deaf ears, as previously. What will really deter the unruly elements is the fear that they will certainly face tough action if they misbehave. There are a number of things a determined TU administration can do on its own — e.g., revise the syllabuses more frequently, enforce strict exam schedules, make the Bachelor level a four-year course. Perhaps also because TU fees are outrageously low, students may not have felt that they have high stakes. Among the many improvements widely expected from the entirely new government leadership, one is a solid beginning in the direction of educational reform, and TU should form an important part of this effort. TU has become a basket case.