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Friday, August 15, 2008

Grading in Technical Education

Grading in technical education mooted 

THE All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is planning to introduce a credit or grading system in technical education institutes and if the ministry of human resources and development (MHRD) approves, the examination system and curriculum would also see a major overhaul from the forthcoming session. 
  Educationists, policymakers and vice chancellors of various technical universities discussed the state of technical education in India at a recent national conference on 'Development of Technical Education in India,' organised by (AICTE) in the Capital. 
  "We will first discuss among ourselves and then forward the 10-point formula of assessment to the MHRD. What we are concerned about is whether technical institutes will find it easy and acceptable to have a grading system in place," said P Dayaratnam, chairman, All India Board of Undergraduate studies, AICTE. 
  If the suggestions are taken seriously by the ministry, then an Mtech degree might be made mandatory for all teachers teaching in technical institutes. "There are various institutions where Btech students are teaching Btech students. Consequently, the respect for the teacher diminishes as they face competition from their own students. To maintain the quality of the system, teachers themselves must aim to get the best possible technical education," suggested Surendra Prasad,director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. 
  A consensus was reached on the grading system, as followed in the West, which could be a better way to ease pressure on not only students but teachers as well. The need to revise the curriculum and reform the examination system to improve technical education in the country was also discussed. 
  On whether the grading system will gain acceptance among all technical institutions, Dayaratnam said: "Most of them do have a grading system and are willing to implement the 10-point grading formula, but not all of them. It would be upto the ministry to decide on how soon it can be implemented." 
  He went on to add: "The ministry has asked us to formulate a report explaining how the grading system will improve the technical education and will ease the pressure on students along with making it more appropriate for their prospective employers." 
  Dayaratnam also agreed that the current education system is examination-centric. "Faculty wastes a lot of time in preparing and checking examination papers, thus leaving them with hardly any time to do their own research or upgrade their knowledge on latest technologies and skills," said R P Dahiya, director, MNIT, Jaipur. 


R P Aggarwal, secretary, higher education, MHRD, said that the target to achieve 8 to 10% growth could only be achieved if the improved technical education produces highly skilled manpower that can provide an impetus to the economy. 
  Calling technical education a sick sector, he substantiated it with a survey, conducted by the ministry in 350 technical institutions. "37% of technical institutions (faculty and students) are not computer literate. Not many faculty members hold a Master's in any specialisation with less than 10% of faculty having done their PhDs," revealed Aggarwal. 
  B R Mungekar, member, Planning Commission, underlined the urgent need to add to the existing infrastructure. He also advocated the public-private partnership model to resolve the issues of lack of infrastructure, paucity of funds and faculty crunch. 

Sunil Sharma
Dil Se Desi Group

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