‘It is vital to equip teachers to ensure high standards of teaching and learning’

The trend of high-scoring students of Plus Two opting to study in arts and science colleges is gaining momentum and has surpassed expectations this year like never before. The cut-off marks that these colleges witnessed have busted the myth that only those with marks lesser than their engineering / medical counterparts chose to study here.

While this trend is being welcomed and seen as refreshing with students exploring career options other than medical and engineering, it is also seen as a challenge.

“Colleges have to rise to meet the expectations of these high-scorers who can be termed “bright students”. This is especially considered crucial from the point of teaching. It is vital to equip teachers to ensure high standards of teaching and learning,” says R. Rajendran, Principal of PSG College of Arts and Science.

Only if this trend continued, will such students take up post-graduation and go on to become teachers and researchers of high standards, say academics.

The XII Five Year Plan period brought in major reforms in higher education in the form of establishing minimum standards for qualification of teachers, curriculum and assessment. Clearing the State Eligibility Test / National Eligibility Test was made the basic eligibility criterion for teachers to draw the University Grants Commission (UGC) pay scale. Ph.D. was also given much emphasis.

Training

The Academic Staff Colleges of the UGC constantly run training programmes for faculty from various disciplines to keep them abreast of the latest in their domain.

Nevertheless, the quality that is associated with Government and aided colleges is not equated to self-financing colleges. According to senior academics, this, to a certain extent, has to do with the private colleges not paying the faculty well.

While an assistant / associate professor / professor, handling aided courses draws a monthly salary between Rs. 45,000 and Rs. 1.20 lakh under the UGC pay scale, those handling a self-financing course get a consolidated salary between Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 25,000.

C. Pichandy, Secretary of the Association of University Teachers, agrees that it is a tough task for teachers to meet the standard of the in-coming students.

“If teachers do not deliver, these students will be disappointed. It is vital to strengthen the quality of teachers for this trend to continue; otherwise it will die a natural death. Managements of self-financing colleges should ensure that faculty are paid well so that their motivational levels are high to teach the students efficiently,” he says.

According to some senior academics, meeting the expectations of the high-scorers will be difficult, but not impossible. Technology-driven teaching and learning makes it possible for the teacher and student to share information and become “co-learners” in terms of new concepts. All that it is needed is for the faculty to use the many mechanisms available to be updated and informed to be armed well for the task ahead.