WHITHER HIGHER EDUCATION?
Dr. A.S. Mohamed Rafee
Associate Prof & Head
Dept of English
Mazharul Uloom College, Ambur
It is very easy to locate an engineering college in Tamil Nadu. Even a stranger can do it without much trouble. In fact, no effort is needed. One has just to travel in a two or four wheeler and watch keenly both the sides of the national highway. All that is needed is to stop at an arch. There the search ends. If one enters the arch, one is sure to see the imposing buildings of a newly sprung engineering college at the end.
Mushroom growth, they say in English. The noun phrase is appropriate to describe the unprecedented growth of engineering colleges over the State in recent years. Thousands are joining the colleges, paying lakhs. What is the reason behind the recent romance of the youth after engineering degrees and diplomas? One obvious reason is that financially and intellectually, a medical seat is much more challenging. Even those who prefer dentistry instead of general medicine do so not because of a love for the human teeth but because they could not get an MBBS seat. If one cannot become a doctor for the whole body, at least one can become a physician of the part of the body and grin like a Cheshire cat!
Higher education has become a very expensive and profitable business nowadays. One reason is the parental anxiety and pressure on kids to make them doctors and engineers. Kahlil Gibran said beautifully that we can give our children our “love” but not “our thoughts”. But who cares? The result? There are either physical drop-outs or mental drop-outs! Yes. The best way to study a course is to love it. And no course is useful or useless in itself. It is the pupil who makes it so. And the endless cropping up of engineering and medical colleges has only corrupted the minds of the parents and damaged those of the youth. The result is unemployment, anxiety about future, lack of self-confidence and waste of human resource.
Physical exercises can make the body shapely and beautiful. In the same way, the time-honoured arts and science courses like literature, psychology, religion, history, economics, commerce and, of course, computer science can make the mind of its lover beautiful and the study meaningful. A young man or woman with a degree in the traditional arts or science course can make his or her life meaningful and fearless with the kind of knowledge that he or she would possess. They can face life with confidence. They can face the music! And all this can be done in a matter of three years with reasonable expenditure and no extra burden on the part of the parents or guardians.
The rainbow of life has not just seven but unlimited number of colors. To force it into one or two dull colors is to lose beauty and truth. Beauty is Truth, as Keats rightly sang. To try to make a whole generation of doctors and engineers is to rape life and deflower the poetry of it. Then, who will cook food for them and who will make dress for them? Such questions can be endless.
There was a time when allopathy reigned. But times have changed now. Alternative medicine is becoming popular nowadays. And rightly so. Ayurveda or Acupuncture has as much scope today as allopathy. The morale of medical and engineering students is also getting corrupt day by day by in-campus activities, as evidenced by the media today.
It is high time that we reconsider our decisions as parents and learners. Traditional Arts and Science courses are more viable and useful by all standards. The onus rests with us. The glorious and lustrous past calls us again. Will we respond?