J.S.BABLU

A look at the various faculty training programmes available and the need for engg. colleges to send their teachers for such programmes

Most of the fresh graduates taking up teacher jobs have passed out of universities where the syllabus has not been revised for many years

Technology is one area that is constantly changing. Even keen watchers of technology find it difficult to keep themselves updated on the latest developments. The teachers of engineering colleges are one section who need to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments in technology to impart world-class education to their students.

The National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986, envisaged the promotion of Continuing Education (CE) with the prime objective of adopting CE as a national culture and making it a recognised activity of all technical educational institutes. In tune with this policy, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) continues to encourage teacher-training programmes, with huge funds earmarked for the purpose in recent years. MHRD has given a greater thrust to such programmes from last year.

Lyla B. Das, faculty-in-charge, Centre for Continuing Education, National Institute of Technology Calicut (NIT-C), recalls that though many proposals on continuing education programmes were submitted earlier, majority of them were not sanctioned. “Now the situation is different,” she says.

There are over 1,500 engineering colleges in the country, including more than 80 colleges in Kerala. The need is to get ‘substantially good faculty’ for these colleges. It is where training comes into picture, especially for newly-recruited teachers.

Moulding necessary

“Most of the colleges get fresh B.Tech. graduates and only a few with postgraduate qualifications as teachers. So there is a need to mould them for teaching,” says T.K. Suresh Babu, Professor and Head, Department of Training and Placement, NIT-C.

R. Ravindran Nair, Dean (academics) and acting Principal, ToCH Institute of Science and Technology, Arakunnam, Ernakulam, says that there was a need for intensive training not only in technical subjects but also in teaching methods for fresh engineering teachers. The fresh engineering graduates, who are recruited as faculty members in engineering colleges, are not provided any training in teaching methods. Once inducted as teachers, they should be given in-depth training with respect to the teaching profession, he says.

He stressed the need for sending these teachers for further training after one or two years.

Dr. Babu says that special induction training programmes for newly-recruited teachers should include how to prepare lecture plans and lecture materials; usage of overhead projectors, slide shows and PowerPoint presentation; planning for assignments; how to set questions and evaluate answers; how to encourage students to ask questions in classrooms; and how to motivate students and make them interested in the subjects.

Updates crucial

Experts in the field point out that most of the fresh graduates taking up teacher jobs have passed out of universities where the syllabus has not been revised for many years. So there is a need to update them on the latest developments in technology related to hardware, software and core engineering.

Another problem in this regard is that many engineering colleges in the State appoint guest lecturers, rather than permanent faculty members. The managements of majority of the private and self-financing engineering colleges in the State would not be interested in sending their faculty for training programmes. “But once the teachers attend the training programmes, it would reflect in the teaching output. If the teaching level is improved that would definitely enhance the image of the institution,” says Mr. Nair.

Dr. Babu also points out that the institute benefits a lot by sending its faculty members for training programmes. One is the advantage of retaining the faculty as he or she will remain loyal to the institute for sending him or her for the programme.

Also, those colleges whose faculty members have attended such programmes get a vantage position when they apply for accreditation from the National Board of Accreditation. Training in special areas improves the chances for consultancy services for faculty members, which will in turn benefit the colleges. It will also help the colleges to find a place among the top-ranking institutes, thereby attracting good students, he says.

Special programme

The Quality Improvement Programme (QIP) was launched by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in 1970 with the objective of upgrading the expertise and capabilities of the teachers of engineering colleges and polytechnics in the country.

Seven major centres located in the Indian Institutes of Technology, University of Roorkee, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and 18 other centres help the engineering college teachers to acquire their Master’s and doctoral degree with full salary and allowances. They are also paid a monthly stipend.

The Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme (TEQIP) of the Central Government was an attempt to improve the quality of technical education. Implemented in select technical education institutions, TEQIP included teacher training programmes.

In addition to this, there are special training programmes of IITs and National Institutes of Technology. The Faculty Development Programmes (FDPs) of NIT-C has experts from IITs and IISc as faculty members, besides its own faculty.

Special schools

ISTE, a national professional body in technical education, conducts summer and winter schools for improving the knowledge, skills and capabilities of engineering college teachers as well as polytechnic teachers.

The Indo-U.S. Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE), an organisation of Indians in the U.S., conducts summer institutes for engineering faculty from India in the ‘facilitate the trainer’ model. K.K. George, director of MES School of Architecture and former Director of Technical Education, says that the National Institute for Advanced Studies in Architecture, the academic unit of the Council of Architecture, provides training for teachers in architecture. Faculty members in engineering colleges also act as project guides for students. To guide the students well, the teachers have to be application and research-oriented. Sufficient training will help the teachers to be in good stead in such situations.

What benefits would the students get when their teachers undergo training programmes?

Dr. Babu says that the students get to know the latest in the field of technology, though the syllabus may not include the topic, as their teacher is up-to-date on the subject.