The nuts and bolts of technical education

Headed which way? The future direction of technical education was discussed at the meeting.

Headed which way? The future direction of technical education was discussed at the meeting.  

The All India Council for Technical Education recently conducted a brainstorming session to focus on a broad spectrum of issues related to the development of technical education in the country. Here are the key suggestions and recommendations.

Road maps will be prepared on specific themes for the development of technical education that were discussed at a brainstorming session organised by the All India Council for Technical Education in New Delhi on December 17 and 18. The meeting that was attended by top academicians and administrators in the field of technical education has decided to form standing committees for taking these themes further.

The themes

The themes that were discussed at the meeting, which was described by AICTE acting chairman R.A. Yadav as a modest beginning in the direction of initiating dialogue and building consensus, were seven specific ones: access, equity and inclusion; quality assurance and Washington Accord; assessment of manpower and skills requirement including the need for expansion and upgradation of polytechnics; academic reforms and curriculum framework, credit system and evaluation; faculty development; industry-institute interface including public private partnership and role of AICTE in the changing environment and global competitiveness.

Those who attended the meeting included Vice-Chancellors of technical/affiliating universities, Directors of IITs, IIMs, NITs, IIITs, NITTTRs and other premier institutes along with Chairpersons of All India Boards (AIBs), Members of the Executive Committee of the AICTE and Principal Secretaries / Education Secretaries / Directors of Technical Education of various States/Union Territories.

Various suggestions and recommendations were made on the conference themes.

The theme on “Access, Equity and Inclusion” focused on

•The need for developing professional skilled manpower.

•Concern over the very low levels of funding for research.

•Initiatives taken by the Government such as enhancement in the number and amount of scholarships and fellowships, including JRFs and SRFs, the Vigyan Jyoti Shivirs etc.

•Measures for faculty development such as enhancement of the age of superannuation, constitution of the UGC Pay Commission, revamping of academic Staff Colleges, implementation of the recommendations of the Professor P Rama Rao Committee Report, strengthening of QIP, INDEST, INFLIBNET and Open Distance Learning and

•Introduction of e-governance in the functioning of AICTE.

Expansion with access, inclusion and affordability, removing imbalances, enabling faculty development, R&D, innovation and curriculum development were identified as the major challenges confronting the technical education system. The urgent need to re-think the salary structure for faculty was discussed at the meeting The theme on “Quality Assurance and Washington Accord” highlighted the following points:

•Hardly 25 per cent of the Indian engineering graduates were employable.

•Shortage of competent and qualified faculty was the core issue

•Whether the graduates of NBA-accredited programmes were really more acceptable to the industry needed to be studied.

•A study should be conducted to examine whether there is a perceptible difference in employability of graduates from the accredited and the unaccredited programmes.

•NBA should be an independent body involving industry and professional bodies, UGC, AICTE, etc.

•A mechanism be developed for better correlation between NAAC and NBA.

•A new parameter - placement track record after 10 to 15 years of graduation should be considered.

Key ingredients for the success of top-notch institutions in India included the robust faculty recruitment processes, quality of curriculum, institutional support mechanisms, regular updating of curriculum, academic freedom, a strong governance system with proper checks and balances and an emphasis on soft skills development

In the session on “Assessment of Manpower and Skills Requirement, including Need for Expansion and Upgradation of Polytechnics”, the following points were raised:

•State, central and private education providers should work in unison.

•State government may provide land (Rajasthan being an example)

•Centre may fund the non-recurring establishment cost

•Private promoters may take care of the running expenses

•Same infrastructure may be used to conduct graduate engineering courses during the day and run diploma programme in the evenings.

•Polytechnics may be encouraged to run two shifts to promote or to accommodate more students.

•Diploma and degree level institutions may also run vocational skill developed programmes introduce a scheme for Testing and Certification for workers with skills acquired by non-formal mode.

The meeting felt that students should be made ‘trainable and tradable’ to make them more employable. Polytechnics should be encouraged to offer courses in the service sector as per market demand, including specific programmes in the hospitality sector like tourism, aviation etc. Managers should be specially trained for the Hospitality industry – through programmes like MBA in Hotel Management. Management based degree programmes should be offered along with skill-based diploma programmes. In the technical session on Academic Reforms the suggestions that were made included the:

•Need for broad-based undergraduate engineering education

•Model curricular framework in engineering and technology

•Integrating information and communication technologies with management

•Need for setting up of Centres of Excellence

•Grading system on a ten point scale and a semester system rather than trimester system.

In relation to “Faculty Development”, the meeting stressed that in order to attract bright, research oriented youngsters to take up a career in teaching, strategies should include provision of incentives, scope to improve qualifications and incorporate teaching methodology in the curriculum of Master level courses. Part-time Master’s Courses and sequential summer courses in the form of capsule courses should be offered during the summer/ winter vacation. Besides, augmentation of faculty, ways had also to be found for retaining faculty. An action plan based on the enhancement of retirement age of faculty, total reward strategy for faculty, launching of PG programmes in professional areas of Management, creation of an enabling environment to attract faculty and promote retention, use of e-learning as a tool for faculty development was suggested.

The session on the theme “Industry Institute Interface including Public Private Partnership” emphasized

•The need for skilled technical man power in line with the double digit economic growth of country

•Lack of common vision among the concerned players resulting in the involvement of industry only in placement activities and student project work, leaving a lot to be desired in the areas of curriculum and faculty development, quality assurance, research activities etc.

The session on the “Role of AICTE in the changing environment and global competitiveness” proposed the setting up of a separate standing committee on each theme to evolve a road map for the AICTE.


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