Recent Statement of Mr. Kapil Sibal, Hon'ble Minister For Education, indicating that nation still needs 1000 more Universities and many more technical and higher education institutions made me baffled throughly. Yashpal committee report on renovation and rejuvenation of higher education (June, 2009) stated that “There is a serious threat to the very idea of the university and its values of knowledge generation in our society today”. Undoubtedly nation has to increase literacy; it does not mean that we produce un-skilled graduate engineers in millions after millions. Recent NASSCOM studies indicated that not even 18% of the recruited fresh candidates are at expected level. Some other studies quotes this number as 30% and others as 8%. What ever may be the statistics of different studies, all of us have to accept the fact that the people who are graduating from our colleges are not up to the expectations of the industry. Of course, some times we do require to find fault with the attitude of industry, especially IT industry. It is sending wrong signals to the young student community. My observations during the last 10-12 years indicate that they are recruiting students with good analytical abilities, soft skills and HR abilities. Their selection is independent of their engineering stream!. It sent wrong signals to the student community that their technical skills are not important to get IT job. Statistics in the recent past indicated that all the good students have joined in IT industry, independent of their engineering stream. No doubt this may create a skill/expertise vacuum in respective engineering streams which may be visible only at a later stage. To support my argument, I wanted to share some of my practical experiences with the students. I used to take Elective courses during late 90's and when IT boom took place. I stopped taking elective courses, as students are not serious as they have appointments in their hands!. Of course, those who got appointments are not serious and they used to disturb/demoralize the other guys also. After the boom, there is a little slump, again I enjoyed taking electives and students are serious now!. Same behavioral patterns are observed during the recent slump also.
In a nutshell, who are currently working as faculty are the ones who did not get their dream industry jobs even after repeated attempts. Is it possible to relinquish them and have new bread?. It is highly difficult and most of them are in responsible positions as HOD's, Deans, etc.,. Thus, we need to have ways of tuning them to become good engineering faculty who can meet the expectations of generations.
One can attribute many reasons for this worst situation. Out of all reasons, most important reason is the number of staff and their skill/knowledge. I still remember my days of Engineering at a state University during early 1980s. Our college Total student strength including masters student is about 655 while faculty used to be around 125. Most important thing is that out of 125 faculty, almost 80 are doctorates. What is the situation today?. It is really appalling. In one department itself there will be about 600 students and staff will not be crossing 30. After all, so called AICTE rule 1:15 is maintained at very difficulty in most of the colleges. I happened to see class strengths in US, UK, German universities to be around 20 from second year of under-graduate onwards. At least, I am glad as a former faculty member of BITS, Pilani that it is maintaining a section strength of 30 from second year onwards. It is really impossible to give individual attention if the class strength is 70 ( without considering re-joined and directly admitted students to second year after their diploma). This enormous number of class strength is making faculty member to evade many teaching practices showing it as an excuse. Thus, it is very high time to recommend a class strength of 15-20. Of course, I don't want to discuss about financial aspects involved from the managements end. Also, I feel it is high time to recall recent youth statistics. According to that India is the one which is going to have majority of youth of the world. Do we want properly trained youth or un-skilled, un-motivated youth. Certainly, we want good. Thus, I feel it is our policy makers responsibility first to correct the faculty (trainers) who are supposed to train the generations to come. Let me comeback to the faculty skill set and how to improve them first to produce skilled or technically strong engineering students.
I guess I have seen some thread about having an exam to practice as a lawyer. http://www.lawyersclubindia.com/forum/Re-Bar-Exam-for-Advocates-Practicing-License-Right-or-Wrong--12469.asp
Also, I remember in some country Medical Practitioners are required to take an exam, probably on a regular basis. Why not our young faculty can also be asked to do so.
1.It is not a joke if I say that more than 60% of the faculty in professional colleges are having a service of at most 6 months. No doubt, they are joining teaching as they did not get job in industry. They have to be equipped to face a class of strength seventy!. It is very essential to organize few days of inducting course to teach elements of teaching. In this connection, I would like to remember Intensive Teaching Workshop (ITW) which is organized at BITS, Pilani for a new faculty members. Such exercises are carried out by me along with some senior faculty in former Institution and observed to be giving better results. This can be practiced by the colleges to improve the faculty teaching skills.
2.Let the MHRD/AICTE to organize on-line subject testing portal to test the technical abilities of the young faculty. Every young faculty can be asked to pass this exam in the course which he is planning to take next semester. Probably, MHRD/AICTE can plan to give some incentives for the candidates for their encouragement. This can be continued for a faculty till he successfully passes at least 10 papers in his engineering stream. In order to encourage inter-disciplinary activity, let the faculty to face exams in areas other than his stream and can be given better incentives. Here, I have to re-collect a rule which was enforced by AICTE few years back. According to this rule, a B.Tech/B.E students with first class and GATE qualification is eligible for scale. Now, I guess it has been relaxed. Some how the testing mechanism what I am referring is different from GATE. The GATE exams examines the individuals knowledge over four years. But the exams what I am referring is about subject by subject with the main aim of young faculties deliver-ability of the subject in the class room.
3.Probably MHRD/AICTE has to plan a series of subject workshops to train the young faculty. Rather than the knowledge centers such as IIT's, NIT's are to be asked to conduct some more subject workshops on a regular workshops. We have observed that many college managements are not giving leaves to the faculty. Probably, some incentives to be given to the colleges also in addition to faculty while they are under training.
4.Most of the time, industry people claim that the university syllabus is not up to the expectations of the industry. In a nutshell, the graduates are lagging practical exposure. How to achieve this?. Probably, industrial organizations should be asked to organize technical exhibitions or visits exclusively for faculty purpose. Then knowledge penetrations to generations will start.
5.Another most important thing which we might have to inculcate young faculty for value based education is to expose them ethics both work ethics, social ethics, etc.,. When I hear about some University (such as Anna Univ) introduced a course on Ethics, I feel elated. I strongly feel that the generations are missing values. It is the moral responsibilities of the faculty to talk about this. After all how come it is possible with the young faculty as there are also educated from same prototype education system. Thus, it is high time to preach about ethics in the colleges. Once being a board member of some University, I have raised about the possibility of introducing a course on ethics. The immediate response of a Hon'ble board member is that “Are we having ethics to teach?”. Then I have argued with the board that there is nothing wrong to expect our generation to have ethics even if we don't have. There is no rule that says a thief son has to be thief only!!. After all, it is the process of evolution.
6.I strongly feel that first Innovative Technical Teaching Institutes are necessary much before Innovative Universities at this junction of time. Mr Kapil Sibal and other experts have to identify this first. Young faculty can be made to use ICT enabled education methodologies such that they can improve their image in front of the students. May be the young faculty can be asked to complete on-line course and then face the national level exam to get clearance to teach next semester. Of course, to encourage the faculty , he/she can be offered a certificate or certification of appreciation once he successfully completes the on-line course and which can be considered during his promotions.
7.Every faculty member of IIT's, NIT's, and other reputed institutions are asked to mentor ( not for M.Tech or Ph.d thesis purpose) at least few young faculty to increase their interest in teaching in addition to technology. Probably, to achieve this may be MHRD/AICTE to make it clear to the staff of these reputed institutions that they will not be getting any projects or other funding unless they execute this noble duty to the nation on regular basis. Also, they can be asked to use modern means to communication such as Video Conferencing, etc.,. Bank employees are required to spend some years outside their country during their whole service. In the same fashion, why not we can ask the faculty members of these reputed institutions to spend few years (say 3 to 4) and create academic vibrancy in their respective areas in the engineering colleges.
8.May be only after successful completion of ITW, on-line subject tests, one or two subject workshops, technical industrial visits, ethics course, etc., young faculty can be asked to teach the course.
9.Better control on conductance of Masters programs. This year, AICTE has opened its Pandora box by giving permissions to many post graduate courses without seeing availability of faculty. An excellent conjecture I would like to bring to your notice. Who are joining in the Masters courses?. The ones who are working as a faculty and who did not get placement in Industry. Most pathetic thing is that they are joining in the college where classes are not held. Managements are also happy as they don't incur any expenses. In addition, they may always have scope to make their postgraduate students as future faculty. I wanted to give one more incident which reflects the psychology of a typical management. One day, I was with our college management (I don't want to refer whether it is current or former) along with HOD to finalize time table, they have not asked me whether I am interested to take a post-graduate course or not though I am the only doctorate in the department. They did not ask me as they are afraid about my being taking regular classes which may hamper next years admissions and some students may drop in the current year also after all they are regular faculty in the near by colleges who does not want to loose their salary!!!.
10.Evidently, another amusing thing for me is Ph.D programs. There is not standardized procedures nation wide. Many colleges are flourishing with so called banned Magadha University Ph.D's to satisfy AICTE requirements. Some are having on-line Ph.Ds. Some more doing part-time Ph.Ds. NASSCOM says need for astonishing number of Ph.d by 2020. They did not mention about the quality of Ph.D's. I strongly feel it is high time correct this point also to have properly trained, skilled graduates to satisfy global requirements in addition to national requirements.