Meaning of Lateral Entry in Education

After implementing lateral entry in the field of Administration, the Central Governmentis now planning, through UGC, for lateral entry in Academics. Under this, there will be no need of PhD any more for teaching in colleges. The introduction of yet another legislation by the governmentin front of the people, already grappling with the New Education Policy, actually raises many questions on the intention of the government.

If we look at the academic policies of the Central Government in the last few years, then it becomes readily apparent that the government has actually made the education system a laboratory. Especially after the legislation of lateral entry, it becomes even more evident. In general terms, the lateral entry legislation has actually allowed the entry of a lab into the academic field, where experiments are being carried out every other day on all the three: the education, the students and the teachers. But the biggest irony is that any experiment done by the government has not yet materialized, it is either midway or the government has withdrawn it, or a new policy has been implemented in its place.

Actually, the government is eventful. It always wants to keep doing something or the other so that everyone feels that change is happening and debates on non-essential issues keep happening; going off path from essential issues like employment and poverty. The government brings changes in its own policies, in case it does not get anything else to do. In other words, there is a terrible lack of policy stability in the government. The government is itself unable to understand its own work and responsibilities and thus, the common people of the country are bound to suffer the consequences of this uncertainty. The government should understand that policy decisions taken in the interest of the country require time. They feel the need for stability. Doing politics, implementing our agenda is one thing but building the country and trying to shape the future, is another thing (i.e. they are quite different tasks). While on the one hand the government has come out with a road map for the next 25 years to celebrate the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, on the other hand this government is quite unstable in its policies regarding education on which rests the future of every countryman, on which rests the future of India.

If we consider this more deeply, then it is clear, the central government first comes out with the UGC rules of 2018, which says that PhD degree will be mandatory for higher education. Due to this legislation imposed on the people of the country so abruptly, many people are rendered ineligible of employment. Many Indian families were just recovering from this when the New Education Policy 2020 was implemented, due to which another crisis of employment started looming on the education system. Even this had just begun when the government has come up with the system of lateral entry in the academic field. The biggest side effect of this lateral entry will be that it is quite possible that now complete appointments in any department will be possible only through this back door. In such a situation, the student who had spent the crucial years of his life in higher education research, who had dreamed of becoming a teacher throughout his life, had studied seriously, his employment would be in danger. His degree will now have no value.

Each government morally promises every citizen of its country that it will create opportunities for them. But this government, far from creating new opportunities,has done the work of snatching the systematic opportunities prepared by the previous governments from the people of the country. This legislation of lateral entry in educational institutions shows this tendency of the government to snatch opportunities.

It has not been seen anywhere till date that the standards should be changed in such a way that two are equally valid and are completely opposite to each other at the same time. The Central Government has created a similar situation in front of the country through the lateral entry system. The UGC regulation of 2018 says that the minimum qualification for teaching in colleges will be PhD. Whereas the law of lateral entry brings with it the rule that one can teach in colleges even without a PhD. Amid this unstable mentality of the government, it is difficult to say for how long these two conflicting rules will exist.

Now a question that arises here is that what is the purpose of the government behind this. After considerable deliberation, three things become clear. The first thing is that through lateral entry, the government wants to get the people associated with its ideology to enter the higher education institutions of the country without any problem. Its purpose is to control education more than teaching. As it is well-known that education is the mother of ideology and if the authority establishes control over education, then ideology will also be controlled. To stay in power for a long time, any government has only two options first, it should focus on development and second, it should get control over the mentality of the people. This government has chosen the latter. Along with this, the lateral entry legislation will also destabilize the academic environment. The old teachers will get busy in creating balance with these new teachers, as a resultant of which, the work of the government will not be noticed by the intellectually educated society and the government will be saved from its own criticism. This fact cannot be completely ignored that lateral entry has been introduced taking lessons from the intellectual criticism and protests by the teachers in universities like JNU, Jadavpur, Jamia and Delhi University. At the same time, it is also possible that in the coming time after lateral entry, some new criteria may be fixed on the basis of merit and efforts may also be made to defect teachers from the opposition to their side by threatening them of forced retirement.

Secondly, through the New Education Policy, the Central Government wants to produce robotic students in place of enlightened students, for which purpose these new teachers will act as brand ambassadors. This lateral professor will be known for face value rather than knowledge, and in academia, where hard work is the most in demand, any Jack or Jill could be made a teacher on the popular demand of the crowd. It is possible that in the coming times, we will get to hear such reports that the Prime Minister went on a state tour to XYZ state and appointed a poor person directly the professor of a college. With this it will be possible to fulfil the selfishness of the government because it will be able to create a perception among the people that it is their own government. And the third thing that points to a chronology that we should all understand. The system of lateral entry will now initiate the process of indirect selling of higher educational institutions. After the New Education Policy, the government has already left the higher educational institutions midway to struggle on their own. Because due to the NEP, now very few students will take admission in higher educational institutions anyway, which will threaten the existence of the institutions itself. The result of which would be that colleges would be forced to bring in people from the corporate world on the board of governance to save their existence. In such a situation, this lateral entry legislation will help the corporate to establish control over colleges, through which corporates will be able to appoint people of their interest as teachers and administrators. Overall, after the NEP, the lateral entry legislation is pushing the education world into a deep crisis, which will need timely assessment and to which, solutions will have to be found on time.

The author is an executive member of Delhi University Teachers’ Association and an assistant professor in Rajdhani College