Education: Quantity versus quality

August 19, 2011 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

Following report is from The Hindu. Although this article talks about the southern states, this also applies to Orissa and other state.

To observers of the technological education scene in Tamil Nadu, it will come as no surprise that as many as 45,062 engineering seats out of the 149,000 put up for admission through the single-window system remain vacant at the end of the counselling process. This is consistent with the pattern of recent years, not only in this State but in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra as well. Tamil Nadu has reported a marginal fall in the number of admissions — down from 112,000 last year to 104,000 in 2011 — even though the number of seats on offer has gone up by nearly 30,000. Behind these numbers lies a story of thoughtless quantitative expansion, lack of elementary attention to quality, an acute shortage of competent faculty, and parental anxiety to strike a deal with private college managements even before the single-window admissions begin. There are a handful of first-rate or very good private engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu, which is possibly ahead of other States in this respect. But the problem is that technological education is mostly seen as a lucrative business, with little attention paid to academic values, ideals, and good practices. Mindless of ground realities, the All India Council for Technical Education has been approving at least 50 colleges every year in the State, where the number has crossed 520, next only to Andhra Pradesh. Some years ago, the State government appealed to the AICTE to stop sanctioning new colleges, but the Council’s contention was that it had no choice but to approve any proposal that fulfilled its norms.

A key reason for the high vacancy level is that students seek out institutions that have sound potential for placement. They also tend to factor in the college’s academic performance, the quality of the faculty, the infrastructure on offer, and perhaps also locational attractiveness. If the problem of vacancies is to be addressed, colleges must be encouraged and indeed required to invest more in training, research, and development so that the capabilities of their students are significantly upgraded. There are positive indications that the Tamil Nadu government is thinking on these lines, but there are other issues — such as the insistence on nativity certificates for students who have passed out of school in other States, which means good students from traditional feeder States such as Bihar, Jharkhand, and Assam can be admitted only to expensive management seats — to be sorted out. There has been enough quantitative expansion for now; the strategic need is to work systematically to raise the bar.

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Entry filed under: Educational Policy, Higher Education, Higher Education Zone, India.

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