‘A mere objective test is just not enough to test teaching skills of candidates’

There is a rethink at the level of University Grants Commission (UGC) as to whether the National Eligibility Test (NET), it has been conducting since 1989 to attract quality faculty for higher educational institutions, is serving the desired purpose.

The common qualifying test was introduced in accordance with the recommendation of Prof. R.C. Mehrotra Committee for identifying teachers with competence and aptitude amongst candidates with a minimum eligibility of at least 55 per cent in Masters degree.

The committee had cited dilution of research levels due to the diversity of standards among universities to explain the worthlessness of M.Phil/ Ph.D.

However, the UGC has now realised that the NET does not guarantee teaching efficiency of successful candidates. Unlike B.Ed, and M.Ed., in which candidates get a feel of teaching profession in schools, candidates appearing for NET after a post-graduate qualification have no idea of their aptitude for the job in universities and colleges.

A mere objective test is just not enough to test the teaching skills of the candidates, Hence the rethink on the need for NET, according to Rev. Fr. S. Xaiver Alphonse, UGC Member.

Regular vacancies

At present, government and government-aided universities and colleges have to appoint teachers to fill regular vacancies based on their NET/ State Eligibility Test qualification or a Ph.D. qualification (2009 Regulation norms). But, there was no justification in universities forcing self-financing colleges to have teachers with NET/SET qualification, since they pay only meagre salaries even to those who fulfil the UGC norms.

The huge chasm in the salaries of teachers handling self-financing programmes and government-aided programmes for handling the same job does not augur well for quality higher education, Dr. Xavier Alphones said, addressing teachers of Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College under the aegis of a UGC-sponsored faculty development workshop, here recently.

The workshop was titled: Strategies for Enhancing Quality and Excellence in Higher Education through Autonomous Institutions and Effective Facilitation Skills for Teachers.

Calling for a level playing field between higher educational institutions in rural and urban parts to make possible inclusive assessment, Dr. Xavier Alphones informed that the Ministry of Human Resource Development has accepted UGC’s recommendation for extending its support system for faculties and staff in self-financing colleges that account for 80 per cent of the 32,294 higher educational institutions in the country, from the start of the 12 Plan Period.

Dr. Xavier Alphones, who is also the Director of the Chennai-based ICRDCE (Indian Centre for Research and Development of Community Education), emphasised that a provision must be made in the 12 five-year-plan for starting community colleges in large numbers, creating scope for vertical mobility in higher education for the students in such institutions, and absorption of training costs. In doing so, students could not only be made readily employable alongside expanding the gross enrolment ratio in higher education.

The UGC Member endorsed the suggestion by the College Principal Kanaka Bhashyam that autonomous colleges must exercise autonomy in real sense of the term.

Keywords: UGCNET