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Prerequisites for compulsory attendance

MUKUNDAN RAGAVAN

Many institutions lack infrastructure and quality faculty

THIS REFERS to the article "Compulsory attendance pays" (Open Page, February 4). Though I am not completely against the colleges having a certain percentage attendance requirement (mostly 75 per cent), I find the reasons listed by the author unrealistic. He is probably unaware of the current scenario prevailing in most institutions offering technical education. I agree that more elective courses can be offered to cater to the interests of the students. But how many institutions have the infrastructure and quality faculty to deal with such "ambitious" offerings? It is an open secret that the quality of the faculty is on the decline. Given this, claims such as "develop the subject matter sequentially" and "initiate thought provoking discussions" sound too idealistic. Many teachers in the engineering institutions are fresh graduates with no experience whatsoever. What makes matters worse is the fact that most of them come to teaching because they had no other option. This being the case, where would the "innate urge to interact and motivate students" come from?

Only a handful

There is no denying that a good teacher can work wonders among the students. But teachers who are good enough to motivate the students and `inculcate virtues' are certainly just a handful across all engineering institutions. When a teacher borrows money from students, never to be seen again, and another misbehaves with girl students, the claim that teachers would impart values becomes questionable. Assignments in almost all the engineering institutions (IITs are probably obvious exceptions) are just physical labour. "Challenging" in "engineering" terms means nothing but physical challenge "How long can a student stay awake at night?" and "How many pages can be copied from a book at a single sitting?" The record writing exercise being enforced in the colleges serves its purpose only if the students are asked to find the appropriate protocols and get them verified by the staff in-charge (if that person is capable). Only then the student would become aware of the practical difficulties and the related precautionary measures. Simply copying the protocols from the manuals is just a fruitless physical exercise.

Exceptions

To generalise that all the teachers are unprincipled or incapable would be inappropriate, for there are people who can even be worshipped. But these noble persons are scarce and most unfortunately, one does not get enough opportunities to move with such people. I do not mean that only teachers do not meet the standards. The quality of both students and the faculty is being sacrificed because of various administrative `measures' such as collecting donations, letters of recommendation, etc. In view of the above reasons, before attendance requirement is reviewed, it would be wise to take effective steps towards improving the quality of students, the faculty and the institution overall, which would probably obviate the need for such an argument. When the students are interested in something and teachers are able to help sustain the students' interest by virtue of their expertise, this attendance factor would not rise. >Mukundan86@gmail.com