When quality takes a beating
The Kerala High Court has highlighted the issue of poor quality of education in engineering colleges in the State.
The reality: With many engineering colleges lacking qualified teachers, students have to fend for themselves.
Lack of qualified teachers in engineering colleges across Kerala seems to have opened up a serious debate on the need for stepping up the quality of education offered to students in these colleges. The issue assumes significance especially in the wake of the recent decision of the United Democratic Front government to give approval for starting 19 new engineering colleges. The college managements will have to fill many faculty posts in various engineering streams.
The court reached the decision on the basis of a report by an expert committee that found that the engineering colleges lacked qualified teachers. Investigations done by the committee revealed that only five of the 24 colleges inspected by it had qualified teachers.
The Bench directed the State government to “critically scrutinise” the eligibility of every institution which had submitted applications seeking no-objection certificates. The court said that if the newly started colleges lacked any facilities, affecting the quality of education, the government should ensure that the students were allowed to join other colleges, given credit for the course study already undergone by them, and refunded the entire fee.
Explaining that the lack of qualified professionals continues to remain a major hurdle in the engineering education sector in the State, K.P.P. Pillai, former Executive Secretary of the Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), points out that there is no mandatory programme for improving the professional qualifications of engineering faculty members.
“Several teachers lack domain knowledge. Unless they spend a lot of time in the library and browse the Internet for new materials, their knowledge will not get updated. Most of the teachers also lack presentation skills. He says the fall in teaching standards is related to the decreasing pass percentage of engineering students in colleges in the State.
Students also complain that some of the faculty members use Malayalam to convey ideas. Teachers say that there is no other way, as several students find it difficult to understand the lectures in English. This is also partially correct which can be resolved.
A serious shortage of M.Tech. seats in the State remains the major problem for not having qualified faculty in engineering colleges, says G.P.C. Nayar, president of the Federation of Associations of Managements of Unaided Professional Educational Institutions in India.
Engineering college teachers say most self-financing colleges do not offer proper service and pay packages to them. Many colleges are now appointing teachers without adequate qualification for low salaries. Mr. Sebastian says this will destroy the quality of professional education in the State and adversely affect the future of students passing out from these institutions.
K. Vasudevan, Professor of Electronics and Dean, Faculty of Technology at the Cochin University of Science and Technology, says talented teachers, especially at the middle level, are very few in most colleges. The teachers will be both old and retired persons who may not have high exposure to latest topics or students who have just passed out from their college and joined as teachers to remain occupied until they get good employment. And they will be students from the bottom layer. This reduces the overall quality of education.
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