Dr. D Dhanuraj, Chairman of CPPR looks into the various woes of the Indian Educator. This article* is the first in this series and more on the theme will follow in the coming months.
The issues and challenges faced by the college teachers across the country remain the same, thanks to UGC and MHRD policies. Quality of our education system and its output are directly dependent on the quality of the educators.In this first of a series of articles I want to focus on the Government run arts & science colleges in Kerala and the various guidelines that plague the education sector leading to the inefficacy and poor standards for the quality outcomes.
There is no doubt regarding the quality of faculty affecting the quality of education and the measures adopted by the universities to improve the quality of faculty are many. The most cited reasons for the fault lines in the education system are; the absence of those with doctorate degrees/PhD among the faculty, lack of continuous learning and exposure in the field of expertise, inefficient infrastructure etc. are. Based on these conventional thoughts and assumptions, many institutional and organizational arrangements, reforms and revisions have been introduced into the system.
Contrary to expectations, the reforms and revisions have not produced desired results in the colleges. Starting from the recruitment to the day to day operations, the reality is in a mess. How much training and understanding do the aspiring teachers have when they are recruited and inducted into the system and how much training are they given after recruitment for their smooth transition to become the best educators?
The number of job opportunities in the sectors other than education has a direct influence over the quality of those who aspire to become teachers. The variety and options in job market are limited in Kerala, due to lack of competitive environment and policy issues. Those who go outside Kerala to do PhD and MPhil from reputed universities within India and abroad and come back to Kerala are often left with the only option of ‘teaching’ as a profession as we don’t have Amazon or Google or any other big shots in Kerala offering them jobs..And of course, there are many who are passionate about teaching and taking it as a profession with great pride. But often, it is seen that there is an element of disconnect between the expectations, personal aspirations and the ground reality.
If one is educated in foreign university, their style and work time pattern will not match with the realities here in Kerala. On the other hand, If you are locally educated and upped the grades here itself, one finds it difficult to understand the qualitative disruptions taking place in the education sector across the world and how it matters for the students here in Kerala. When training programs are imparted through various official channels to the young teachers, the actual competitiveness of the training programs should be measured in terms of how it can effectively cater to the qualification and exposure levels of the different set of candidates. If the market is open and up against the varying quality experiences, there could have been the solutions figured out in the process itself.
In the standard case, academic calendar starts in June and ends in March. But the most relevant academic specifics are missing from the calendar most of the times except in the case of exams. In the last few years, examination calendar has been the focus of the universities as the inordinate delays and frequent postponements had attracted public resentment in the past. If these issues seem to be fixed now, a lot remain unattended.
Many thought that the late arrivals and early departures of the teachers is the primary reason for the inefficiency in the system. So the urged for the punching system and got installed in their campuses. Here again, no one is concerned about the quality time and the space for academic pursuits that include research and expositions. Issue is not the punctuality and discipline but the education culture the system has attributed over the years. An academic space should be left to the free thinking and intellectual explorations guided by the faculty. The success and failure cannot be an overly dependent on the single indicator called ‘results in examinations’. Rather, colleges should be a place where the skills and abilities of the students are identified and strengthened and the teachers should become the facilitators for that. This will be a detour to the conventionalists (of Kerala) as it demands for more irregularity within the frameworks of academic calendar.
When the available quality time offered or mentioned in the theoretical framework of the punching system, it leads to another quixotic challenges faced by the college teachers. How much are they into their subject teaching and how much are they into clerical works. Mostly the clerical works deal with the purchases of the books, sports kits, conference and seminar budgeting, preparing the vendor list for purchasing lab equipment and sometimes the stationery and office furniture also and the numerous records need to be maintained for each of these items. Most of them complain about the laborious tasks at hand when the obsolete and impractical accounting practices of the education department. Getting three quotations from three different vendors on pricing front even for small value purchases forces the faculty to spend more time in the market than in the campus. Instead of setting up a procurement and purchase department as per the advice and priorities listed by the faculty, the norms lay down the frittered responsibilities on the shoulders of the academician who is tipped to excel and lead the world by innovation and research.
To be continued….
*This article is a reproduction of views which appeared in Pallikkutam, a monthly magazine published by Rajagiri Group of Educational Institutions