Call for 'dynamic' IT curriculum

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JUNE 16. Prof. V. Rajaraman, Information Technology (IT) expert from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, on Saturday, called for an ``agile and dynamic'' curriculum which would equip IT education in the country to cope with rapid changes in the scenario.

Delivering the key-note address at an interactive IT seminar, Prof. Rajaraman observed that one of the handicaps in the field of IT education in the country was that the rate of change in the curriculum was being overwhelmed by the rapid strides in IT-based industries.

The interactive IT seminar was organised by the Spokesman Media Services, a body of media professionals in the city.

The brainstorming session was conducted in the context of the alarming slowdown of the IT industry in the U.S. and the new challenges it poses to the sector all over the world in general, and to the resource-rich State of Kerala. Kerala also has the largest contingent of IT personnel working abroad.

He pointed out that there were several problems dogging both the formal and the non-formal IT education programmes in the country.

According to Prof. Rajaraman, each year, around 30,000 per year pass out of the MCA programmes, 60,000 from the BE, 500 from M. Tech. and 50 from the PhD programmes. The dearth of teachers was a serious problem in the IT education sector. The current teacher-student ratio was 1:50.

Another worrying factor was the large numbers of educated unemployed. Only an estimated one-third were employable on graduation from IT education centres.

A main reason for the high rate of unemployment among the educated youths was that industries were unwilling or unable to provide training slots. This was particularly true in the case of MCAs. Besides, the curriculum update in universities was slow unlike in the IITs where course contents were refashioned each semester by the teachers concerned, Prof. Rajaraman said.

However, on the positive side was the fact that the costs of personal computers had come down and it reflected on the expenditure on setting up infrastructure.

According to the IT expert, though computer education centres had mushroomed throughout the country, there was standardisation of the quality of training imparted at these centres. Entry was available to anyone willing to pay their way in. Moreover, scores of students were unhappy that the promises advertised by these centres failed to tally with what was actually offered.

Prof. Rajaraman felt that a solution to the crop of problems in the IT education would be for the National Board for Accreditation of the All India Council for Technical Education to expedite its accreditation process.

Another suggestion was to periodically evolve model curricula for quick dissemination and grant greater autonomy to teachers. The focus should be to evolve curricula that educated students on how to learn, Prof. Rajaraman said.

He felt that web-based education would greatly help resolve the shortage of teachers. Industry could also assist the process by providing the services of part-time teachers.

Later, Mr. B.S. Warrier, career consultant, moderated over a panel discussion which featured a cross-section of experts. Dr. K.R. Sreevathsan, Director of the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management Kerala, Mr. Rajiv Vasudevan, CEO, Technopark, Mr. N.A.P. Thampi, Additional Director, ER&DC, Mr. K. Kesavaswamy, senior consultant, Tata Consultancy Services, and Mr. Sunil Gupta, Managing Director, IVL India (P) Ltd; participated in the discussion.