Touria Prayag's Blog

Manufacturing panic 19 September 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on March 22, 2014

Par Touria Prayag

The Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC) decision not to issue a ruling regarding the universities at the centre of the last few weeks’ polemic is pathetic. The students enrolled at the universities in question are not sure what will happen to them after they graduate, the parents are anguishing over their children’s future and the money that’s been spent in pursuit of it, so much so that they now have a spokesman – guess who? – and the opposition misses no opportunity to try and gain political mileage by asking for the minister of tertiary education’s resignation. In the middle of this political game, the least one could have expected of the TEC was to provide answers to the questions of the anguished parents.

These questions are simple: in the pursuit of acquiring knowledge and skills, is my child worse off than any other student in the local tertiary sector? In other words, will the students studying at these universities find graduate employment if they seek a job at the end of their studies and will they be able to pursue their education here or abroad if they so wish? Without losing sight of the aim of education – but at the same time leaving aside the romanticised views of it which are so unobjectionable that they sound vacuous – students go to university and parents pay for their education so that they can be educated members of the workforce one day.

Like in every other situation, once an issue – any issue – has been politicised, it is very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. And this one has been politicised to tears and milked dry by the opposition. Add to that the ethnic politics in this country and the scores politicians like to settle at the expense of truth and fairness and you have the full picture. So, if anyone could provide facts, it is the TEC. Pity it has missed out on its chance.

The facts about the EIILM University and the JSS Academy are accessible to anyone who has time for a bit of research. In the cover story this week, Weekly did what the TEC could have done: look at the question from all sides and provide information on all the aspects relevant to the parents and the students. And the answer to the questions the parents must be asking is simple: as things stand, a student who graduates from these institutions – in spite of all the bad press around them – is no worse off than any other student currently studying or who has studied in any other tertiary education institution in Mauritius. They can gain graduate employment in the public or private sector and follow a postgraduate course in any foreign university These facts are drowned in a political saga we could do without.

There is no crisis at the moment. The trench war between the UGC and some Indian universities has little to do with us and the Saturday political talk is just that: political talk. However, if the TEC stays in its funk hole and keeps shirking its responsibilities, we may indeed end up with a crisis on our hands. There is an urgent need for it to sit with its counterpart – the UGC – and iron out this issue once and for all. Our students can then make informed choices and face their studies with serenity. If the bad press was harming only the minister of tertiary education, it would be de bonne guerre. It is, unfortunately, jeopardising the students’ chances of getting on in life. And that is rather unfair.

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