Upgrading Engineering Education in India: New Role for theProfessional Teacher – I - by Raju Swamy: May 10, 2009(
What are the reasons for the fall in academic standards in institutes of higher learning, of a majority of engineering colleges in particular? Here is an attempt atexploring some of the questions raised. Though the original version was firstpublished in ‘The Hindu’ of November 06, 1990, the issues raised continue to bealive in 2009)
Most organizational constraints in every type of organization - government, industry, or academic - are man-made. Typical man-made constraints arise out of the culture of organizations, primarily related to the extent of clarity of objectives, concern for results,optimal utilization of resources, recognition of good work, and promotion of anenvironment of growth as against that of uncertainty or stagnation.
Academicinstitutions have by and large escaped judgment by these standards ascompared to Government and industry, and consequently teachers have lived ina relatively “free” world.
Can academic institutional growth take place in isolation from the growth anddevelopment of teachers? Or can teachers isolate themselves fromresponsibility and accountability for the success of academic excellence andgrowth? Can a “safe” job motivate performance?
Are excellent teachers sufficiently “backed up” by institutional managementsthrough infrastructure facilities and recognition?
What is the role of the principal? The Heads of Departments?
Are institution standards moving in line with a brighter and more demandingyounger generation?
Is institutional research attracting industry by keeping ahead of prevalentindustry norms and thereby providing a direction for development of technology and innovation?
These questions arise, striking at strong fundamental beliefs in theinfallibility of teachers and institutions of learning.
This report is an attempt at exploring some of the questions raised above. It isbased on a study conducted for over two years at an above average, reputedprivately owned (Government-aided) engineering institution in the country.. Themanagement of the institution exhibited both courage and foresight in having thisstudy undertaken.
From our ancient systems of learning, the teacher or ‘Guru’ emerged as a selfless,dedicated, learned individual with simple living and high thinking as a way of life. Hismission was to impart knowledge to those that could absorb them without expectinganything in return. And the good student was ever indebted to the Guru.