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02 August 2011

Media Professionals discouraged from teaching Media in India

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba


There are some unpleasant developments talking place with regard to the appointments of teachers in the department of media studies. The University Grant Comission (UGC) has given some basic guidelines to the Universities to appointment faculty and this diktat is being implemented literally, without any logic or reasons attached.


The UGC guideline calls for basic degree in the relevant discipline, plus qualification of national education test, and a PhD to be eligibility for teaching position in a given discipline.
The UGC directive also obliquely mentions anyone who has proven excellence and ability in a given field of study can also be considered for teaching position in that field.


Now given the nature of Indian education system, where almost a rot has set up with very poor caliber teaching faculty, manning the departments, the first part of the UGC guideline is being rigorously being implemented and second part is over looked because the first one comes as a easy pretext to push out the professionals from getting into academic institutions.


This is gross injustice that is going on because any amount degrees and certificates can not be substituted for high degree of professional training in the relevant field of study.


As such there is definitely a requirement of high skilled professionals in the field of academia who can share knowledge with the young minds and mould them to become future professional, even they may not have relevant degree in that discipline.


A case has come to my light where a person who has 15 years of work experience in the media industry working with some top notch companies and also having six years of regular teaching experience in fairly recognized University, is being debarred from teaching position in the media discipline s because his basic degree in media studies.


This person has done masters in History, qualified NET in history and went on to do his M.Phil and PhD on a historical topic from South Asian Studies School of International relations. The time he was studying some 25 years ago, the media courses were unknown, and as such had little scope after study.


After finishing his studies this person chose career in journalism and spent about 15 yrs in that profession. He has won several awards and has shown high degree of excellence in the field of media studies. It’s because of his professional excellence; he was picked up by the University to teach that course.


In an ironical twist, after being six years in the teaching profession, now he is being debarred from teaching because he does not have basic degree in the media field.


This is ridiculous, because in the first place he was considered for teaching position on the strength of his expertise in media field and then one fine day he is Banglored, because he does not have basic degree. There is no weight given to his long work experience and his hard work over the years is simply discounted.


Now the predicament for this guy is he can not go and look for teaching position in history, a place where he was some 25 years ago and he drifted away because he could not find any opportunity there.


He cannot go to international relation because, its part of political science and he has his basic degree in history.


He cannot go back to media industry even though he has 15 years of experience there because he has lost all contacts due to being engaged in teaching assignment for past six years. For him, it’s really a precarious situation, where to go.


I don't know why institutions are being fetish about the basic degree in the media field. We all know how degrees can be acquired in India and how research papers are written and published.


However, can they be substitute to professional experience and excellence in the field of study? Definitely not, and the person having good command over the discipline due to his professional experience is more suitable candidate for teaching then those having mere degree in that discipline.


This however is not happening in India and lines are being drawn to push out the media professionals to make way for sub standard teachers who hardly can make a sense of the complexities of the media world.


This is ludicrous because the UGC on one hand preaches to adopt multi- disciplinary approach to teaching and want inter disciplinary research to be encouraged. However when it comes to the framing rules it negates its own vision and mission.


A subject like media can not be handled in a narrow sense of term. It’s a multi disciplinary subject and requires people from all streams of education. Such people after having sufficient exposure in the field of media are well qualified to teach the subject.


It’s a sad commentary on the education system of the country that discounts professional experience and gives preference pieces of paper called relevant degrees.


I am sure there may be some window of opportunity for such high caliber persons teaching media The UGC guidelines may have some provision to accommodate such person and encourage them into teaching profession.


If that’s not the case, then I think it’s high time that the UGC may take into consideration proven media experience as basic qualification for teaching media courses.


I will be grateful if anyone who can throw some light on this issue and cite relevant rules of the UGC guideless that can help this person for teaching position in media studies.


[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]

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