Erosion of professors’ prestige

Published On: February 2, 2020 09:10 AM NPT By: Atindra Dahal

Where else is a political association of professors in the world? How ethical is it to be party’s cadre over excellence while assuming responsibilities in the university? 

In his book What the Best College Teachers Do Ken Bain says that professors are ‘university-based top-ranked expert academicians’ to extend then enforce knowledge and virtues. In Nepal too, professors are co-positioned with the first-class bureaucrats in merit. Such a distinguished position automatically attracts intense gravity. They are expected to be involved in academic excellence, knowledge, studies and research. 

Knowledge never expires. Professors, who are the beam and pillars of knowledge, intellect and values, too never retire. And society acknowledges it as such. 

Reputation of professors is unmatched. Many high position-bearing officials and experts in foreign embassies/agencies are commissioned among professors. Most are noticeably illuminated with knowledge, intuition, excellence and intellect and then continue shining. Any overseas professor visiting Nepal receives abundant respect. Any note from professors on any issue receives huge value and becomes reference to others. They are referenced as the final front of intellectual and logical discourse. The Professors’ House by Willa Cather regards professors as most prestigious and venerable persons in society. 

Our plight 
But we in Nepal are in reverse gear. In Nepal, we have approximately 2000 professors. Most are far insufficient to demonstrate commensurate dignity of a professor. Professors themselves tend to decay the facets of dignity and erode the prestige. Some non-PhD professors plead to supervise doctoral researchers, showing boundless academic dishonesty. 

Exceptions aside, most professors these days are attracted to political appointment. Unleashing efforts in enhancing academic excellence, technical knowledge, and purified research to galvanize and lionize the university’s dignity gets almost no attention. Contributing in glorifying nation’s future by instilling and injecting scientific and pragmatic quality higher education is almost forgotten. Position demands that they become the trendsetters in the academia. But that’s not happening. Publications are seldom and academic updates are rare. Those with positions do politics. Those without positions visit the university or colleges for attendance and then rush to private colleges. They are known as helmet professors since they literally profess (root word for professor) the same idea everywhere every time. 

However, professors elsewhere help in formulating new policies for social and economic development through the blend of their intellect and intuition. Science and technology professors at NASA are reportedly working to investigate possibility of human settlement on Mars. Professors at London School of Economics are working to rectify the diminishing graph of entire European economy. A research titled ‘Professing Passion’ conducted at Columbia University in 2006 concluded that professors are arch, unrivaled or most-competitive pillar of most pragmatic truth-value. Professors from Germany, where many Sanskrit universities are in function, are busy exploring new dimension of knowledge. 

Kautilya, most venerated classical oriental philosopher, was top-ranked professor of contemporary Takkhsashila academy, knowledge hub of that time. State would solicit his recommendation to derive eventual truth on most disputes. Those who propounded and propelled miles-reaching ideologies on socio-economic progress and change were mainly from pool of professors.

Erosion of values 
But our professors often engage in political protest, demonstration, rally, strike and so on. At the utmost dismay of all, now, even the permanency in service is being demanded through strike and demonstration. Is not this shame over competence? 

Where else is a political association of professors in the world? Can it be admissible if a professor becomes spokesperson of political force, appeals for membership and carries flag? Is it necessary to enamel professor’s prestige with any political credo? How ethical is it to be party’s cadre over excellence while assuming responsibilities in the university?  

Professor is acknowledged not in terms of contribution and excellence but on the basis of political affiliation. Universities, during top recruitments, are divided among ruling parties’ coalitions and leaders. A professor reaches classroom as political cadre. If the unrivaled towers of intellect and knowledge get politically split and deviated, their lore, skill, ethics and ethos turn to be ignominiously harmful rituals. There, most graduates grow unproductive and go unemployed.   

Few business-driven colleges in valley wrongly address their associates with titles like professors/associate professors. Some educational institutions running technical courses like engineering and medicine do publically promote their associates with professor or even dean. Such activities are damaging professors’ position. Those who wrestled academically to prove them as professors are vying for political attachment. The beauty of position is being plundered and polluted as well.

Owing to excess politicization, most professors today are known as Congress professors, NCP professors, Forum professors and so on. 

If education decays, nothing progresses further. Higher education is spinal-cord of nation and professors are key pillars. If there is a crack on it not only education but also the entire nation suffers. They produce incompetent and unethical human resources for all other sectors. We are experiencing this ruin. If there were even a hundred of true professors, perhaps we would not have come thus far. 


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