Issues

SET results a worry for academicians

SET benchmark? The standard of SET question paper is consciously kept high in order to maintain teacher quality and efficiency. Photo: M. Vedhan   | Photo Credit: M_VEDHAN

In a bid to improve the quality of teachers in colleges and universities, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has made it mandatory that they clear the National Eligibility Test (NET) / State Eligibility Test (SET), or complete a Ph.D. A pass in NET/SET will also make them eligible to draw UGC payscales in colleges and universities.

But the recently published results of the SET in Tamil Nadu looks like the quest to improve the quality will deal a heavy blow to the quantity. With only 1,396 out of 41,164 candidates passing the August 2011 SET examination, there is a serious worry among senior academics about the implication of this on the demand and supply of teachers in colleges and universities.

While there is universal disappointment about the poor results, it has also raised various concerns like improving the number of passes, assessing study material available for the examination, modifying preparation pattern of candidates, and increasing the frequency of conduct of SET.

With a pass percentage of 3.39, which in fact is an improvement over the last examinations, the need for qualified teachers still remains to be fulfilled.

From the 1,396 who passed, as many as 673 candidates cleared the Tamil paper, 213 cleared the English paper and 194 the management paper. Other passes were from bio-technology, economics, physical education, journalism and mass communication.

No candidate from the chemical sciences, geography, Hindi, library and information sciences, mathematical sciences, and physical sciences, cleared the test. For many who have not cleared the SET even after two or three attempts, the only other alternative is to apply for a four-year doctorate.

Feedback from candidates who have passed and failed the test, and academics who have set the test question paper and also evaluated the answer sheets, go to prove that the reason for so many failures is not because the question paper is tough, but because of poor preparation by the candidates.

R. Sivakumar, assistant professor of Public Administration, Thiruvalluvar Government Arts College, Rasipuram, who cleared the test, says, with good preparation anyone can clear the SET.

“Most of the SET syllabus is covered in the PG course. Also, for faculty who are handling the subject on an everyday basis, it is much easier,” he adds. A faculty member who has failed the test says she is not able to assess her performance because the test results do not reveal the marks. SET marks could be published to enable the candidate know where they had to improve in the next attempt.

A senior professor who has been involved in setting SET question papers and also in valuation, says many teachers/candidates fail because the UGC mode of assessment is not like that of a university.

Paper-I for 100 marks examines the candidates on logical reasoning, while Paper-II for 100 marks consists of 50 multiple-choice questions on the subject, and Paper-III for 200 marks is of descriptive pattern based on the subject again. “One cannot say the questions are difficult. They are consciously set keeping a certain standard in mind. If a candidate fails in the first paper, his second paper is not even taken up for correction,” the professor says.

Carrying the same point forward, P. Kanagaraj, associate professor of political science, Government Arts College, Coimbatore, who also coaches candidates for the UPSC Civil Services examinations, says in many cases, highly meritorious students stop with UG degree once they get a lucrative job.

“Mostly, those who do not score very high marks in UG go for PG with teaching in mind. For such candidates to clear the SET, the quality of higher education should be improved, even from the UG level. Focus should be on the subject knowledge,” he says.

And, according to him, a doctorate being considered an alternative to the SET is illogical. “A doctorate is not an ideal qualification for teaching. It focuses only on a minuscule portion of the subject matter. Though SET too is not a right yardstick, it at least deals with the subject matter on a major scale,” he adds.

Echoing the sentiments of many, Vice-Chancellor of University of Madras G. Thiruvasagam says the eligibility test fails to ensure that there is supply when there is demand and also raise the bar in terms of quality.

He believes that a period of training after the SET can only ensure that a college will get a qualified teacher. Candidates have to be trained in psychology, teaching methodology, pedagogy, use of technology and effective delivery, to make them efficient.

There is also a felt need that the test be conducted at frequent intervals to maintain that balance between quality and quantity of qualified teachers.


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Printable version | Sep 12, 2021 6:16:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/education/issues/set-results-a-worry-for-academicians/article3483508.ece

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