Pamu: Hey, Viru how are you doing?
Viru: Hey….hi…I am doing great. What about you?
Pamu: Ha…. life is going on, nothing special.
Viru: You are not looking fine. Something seems to be wrong with you.
Pamu: It doesn’t matter… I am fine absolutely.
Viru: Really? I do not think that you are normal. Is there any issue that is bothering you? If yes then you can share with me, obviously if you wish to do so.
Pamu: You know that I am going to tell you. You also know that I have come here to talk about that only. Despite that, you are saying that if you wish then only I can share. You know that I am disturbed…
Don’t be like that. I know you and you know me.
Viru: You are not wrong. But, I prefer to respect privacy. I prefer not to push other to reveal things until other wants to do so willingly.
Pamu: Ok….good. Let’s move to the main topic of our discussion.
Viru: That is good… Tell me what is it that is bothering you? We can discuss and try to find solutions regarding the issue.
Pamu: The issue is not as personal but related to the larger populace and is also vital for our future.
Viru: Ohhhh… it is so important. Tell me then…
Pamu: The issue is what I call degree syndrome that today people are facing.
Viru: Degree syndrome? What is it? I have never heard of it…..
Pamu: No you might not have heard about it. Even I don’t know whether that term exists or not. I just felt that the issue which we are talking about should be called likewise.
Viru: Ok…. then tell me about the issue.
Nowadays, I am looking for people who are just running after educational degrees with a lack of actual knowledge. In many cases, I have observed that people even lack basic knowledge of the field, which they have spent years studying it.
Despite that, people keep on pursuing bachelor’s, then master’s, and so on, regardless of the knowledge they have gained. The utility of that education for society, I have observed to be almost nil. Rather it becomes a burden for society.
Viru: The issue which you based raised is very serious but it is subtle. I would prefer to call it a silent epidemic, spreading all over the globe more so in India, which is the bigger victim of that disease.
Pamu: Ohhhh…. so you know the issue. That is good. Then please tell me that in detail.
Viru: Ok… we will discuss.
Pamu: Tell me then….. why people are suffering from degree syndrome?
Viru: That goes down deep to human nature. Look, we humans by nature are selfish animals. Also being selfish is not bad provided that selfishness does not harm other people and society at large.
Pamu: Yes….humans are selfish. We have already discussed that in our earlier discussions.
Viru: Yes… that is right.
Pamu:But to what degree syndrome has got to do with selfishness?
Viru: Look…. as we are selfish, we seek pleasures in our life. Now relate what I am saying. Nowadays pleasurable life is associated with money. More money is the capacity to enjoy the fruits of pleasure.
Pamu: So you are saying that people by seeking more degrees try to raise their capacity to earn more?
Viru: Exactly that is what I am saying. Because it is what I see and perceive about the current situation.
Though it does not apply to all. Many are earning degrees, not for the sake of degrees, but truly to learn new things so that they can help resolve problems faced by society at large. But that section is minuscule.
Pamu: Hmmm… that is the tragedy. So education has become the means to earn money, and enjoy pleasures. But, what is the problem with that?
Viru: The problem is not that people are earning degrees for the sake of money. The main issue is that in most cases the only aim is money. It is the problem because people with that aim in mind have the goal to earn a degree somehow without any regard for true learning. So ultimately they end up earning degrees without any actual skills or competence.
Pamu: But, I do not think that they would be able to find jobs in the market.
Viru: Yes… look nowadays even a person with a Ph.D. is applying for clerical-level jobs. But if the person has a degree from a reputed college then that person may find the job. That is why you must have noticed the rush of parents and students to get admission into reputed colleges.
Pamu: I have seen that despite lacking any knowledge of bachelor’s level people pursue master level and further.
Viru: Ha they seek to do progress in their career, and that progress in most cases is financial.
Pamu: So, don’t you think it is wrong?
Viru: I cannot judge someone. But, I would say the purpose of education should be to empower oneself and help our society to solve issues faced by it. It is not bad that one seeks progress in our life. What I believe is that it should be meaningful. But there are issues with degree syndrome.
Pamu: What are they?
Viru: Like, earning degrees without actual learning is a total waste of resources. More so in the state-sponsored institution, as money is coming from people. Similarly, in the future, such people will not be able to succeed considering their superficial level of knowledge. Also, they will be a burden on society, because they will not be able to contribute to society.
Pamu: Yes that is what is itching me. And nowadays degree syndrome is in the full rush with no antidote seeming to appear.
Viru: There may be some positives as well. People having more degrees are prioritized in many places for the job. But even there they may not be able to apply the knowledge.
Pamu: I do not think that is positive, but harm only. Because incompetent having degrees only in name get selected. They may not contribute to anything but still survive in the industry.
Viru: Yes that is also true. But, I was talking about positives from the perspective of degree earners. Obviously from the perspective of society, it is bad.
Pamu: So, what do you think is the solution to the problem? Or is there any solution at all?
Viru: There is the solution. No problem does not have any solution. The problem which seems impossible today to solve would become easy tomorrow.
Pamu: Ha… that is true. We have seen that in many instances. Like mobile technology itself. A few generations earlier nobody would have believed that such a device would come into existence.
Viru: Yes that is right.
Let’s come to solutions.
Pamu: Ok…. tell me then. What do you think of the solutions for this syndrome?
Viru: Firstly, people themselves should understand that merely earning degrees will not help them in long term. They will suffer monetarily for lack of actual competency and knowledge. Secondly, there is a need for state, civil society, market, and academic collaboration to weed out this epidemic once and for all. Because like an epidemic, it is also spreading at a rapid pace.
Pamu: What collaboration you are talking about?
Viru: Like a collaboration between academia and industry can lead to the development and provide the necessary education, and skills that are vital for industries.
Also, there is a need for regulation from the state of these degree-granting colleges lacking any quality. The state should ensure that specified outcomes should be achieved. For that guideline can be developed, actual testing of the knowledge before granting degrees is also necessary. Failure to perform and implement knowledge should lead to the non-awarding of degrees to people.
Pamu: Ha… that can happen.
Viru: But what I think the most important thing is that people should enroll themselves in the institution with the genuine purpose of learning rather than earning, which they would earn automatically if they have the competency and domain knowledge.
Pamu: This is the most important antidote to this epidemic. There is an urgent need to put this medicine into the body, mind, and spirit of the people at large to wipe out this malady.
Viru: You are right. That is the way forward. This also applies to both of us.
I hope people and other stakeholders would understand the true purpose of education and act accordingly. With that, they would contribute greatly to humanity.
Pamu: Yes…I hope so.