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Mixing Education With Business

October 29, 2012

If you want something done well, please don’t give it to someone who already has a/ another job.

.

A class cancelled because the faculty is travelling does sound a little unusual. But if you add the following factors to it, does it not sound bizarre?

1. Students have arrived and are waiting for 30 minutes.

2. This is the fourth time in a row the students are gathered for a class, same faculty.

3. The faculty is travelling for a consultancy project.

4. Students have nowhere to complain because: A. all the other faculties are doing the same, or B. The faculty is the highest authority.

In an educational institute when the teachers are saying they don’t have time to teach, there ought to be something wrong with the system. Because they are too busy doing administrative work; or consulting, and giving the benefit of their expertise to folks other than their students. Like someone employed in the army offering to be Guns for Hire. And too busy to fight when their nation is in need.

On the other hand, is the story of the client… A project was granted in good faith, with the hope of benefiting from the solid grounding of the institution and the vast knowledge of the pool of faculties there. But in all probability this is what actually happens…

1. None of them are to be seen, nor any evidence of their inputs in the work that comes to the table.

2. Some person, obviously working under the banner of the Institute – may be a visiting faculty on paper – or even enrolled for Phd. in the institute; but in reality having very little to do with academics, shows up every time.

3. With a solution derived neither from the rigour of academic theory nor from the wisdom of years of practice and implementation. Ergo, often, piles upon piles of manure.

4. The following have served as motivations behind the work:

A.  A quick buck for the faculty in charge (Their jobs are secure, by virtue of students)

B.  Job for the pseudo professor (With little pressure from academics, they have devoted more time to the work, be happy)

C.  Portfolio building (Read collecting big projects for Resume)

D. Illusions of knowledge (or a genuine case of megalomania leading a person to think that working on a project automatically endows deep knowledge, clear understanding of issues, and insights into appropriate solutions upon the do’er.)

Sometimes the work has merit, sometimes it hasn’t. If at all the work is not up to the mark, why does this arrangement perpetuate? 1. Because for the client, it entails a big stamp on the project, giving it legitimacy. Considering the long and tedious tendering process government and semi-government bodies have to follow, involving an institution can bypass a lot of trouble – both political and administrative. 2. Of course, much of the work is such that the clients are clueless about what they need. (This is irrespective of their own perception. More on that later). 3. The ‘Portfolio’ helps too, because ‘to get work, one should already have done that work before’.

Sarcasm apart, what is wrong in earning a little extra while helping a few clueless clients (Read various levels of government and special purpose authorities) from the lofty platform of an Institute? A bit of fresh air and exposure to reality never hurt anyone…

Because for whoever is part of an institution, their very existence is divided – two conflicting purposes to fulfill – education/ business. Either those  employed as teachers are not meant to teach, or, those who are meant to teach are occupied with something else. There is no way just attention could be given to both parties; and either one, or both, will suffer. So I say if you want a job well done, please give it to someone who doesn’t already have one in his/ her hand. Or there’s at least 50% chance you’d get a raw deal.

(Note: This piece feels a little long, so I will come back when I can and edit it. Appreciate feedback/ comments/ discussion)

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