Staff member
Chandigarh August 9:
Punjab seems to be heading for a dearth of qualified and competent faculty, deterioration in education standards and unemployment in technical manpower with 21 more engineering colleges getting approval by the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). This means a 50% increase this year in their number against 42 started last year.
Confirming this, secretary, technical education Tajinder Kaur said 21 engineering colleges with initial intake of over 3,000 students, five pharmacy colleges with intake of 300 students and 21 management institutes with intake of 1,200 students have been started this year in the state.
Conceding the initial teething problems, Kaur insisted that all these new institutes had the requisite infrastructure prescribed by the AICTE for the first stage and there was little to worry on this account. However, she confirmed that around 80% students had failed in mathematics paper of second semester last year.
But it was just an exception as the overall results had been over 85% at Punjab Technical University to which these colleges were affiliated. Expressing concern over the sudden spurt in technical education and non-availability of qualified staff and quality of turnout, principal of DAV Engg College, Jalandhar, CL Kochhar said, "There were only three engg colleges till 1960. More started coming up in the 1990s and in 2000 there were 30-odd colleges.
Commercialization of technical education has resulted in the spurt but it was up to the PTU and AICTE to ensure that standards were maintained." Kochhar added quickly that those institutes which pay well to its staff do get qualified teachers too. However, Prof Rajnish Arora of Amritsar Engg College welcomed the opening of new colleges. He dismissed the associated problems as transitional phenomenon as the increase in demand of faculty would ensure speedy supply too in near future as more students were opting for postgraduation and PhD in technical education.
"In developed countries, 15 to 20% students opt for technical education while in India their strength hovers around 5 to 7%. And in Punjab, availability of seats per thousand population in technical institutions is far less than many other states like Andhra," averred Arora, suggesting that there was still scope for more colleges. On quality of education, he said sheer competition to attract best students would ensure quality of education.
Echoing the same sentiments, Prof HS Saini, principal of Chandigarh Engg College, Landran, who had a long stint in Andhra Pradesh, which has around 300 such colleges, felt that the university and government should be pro-active to ensure quality faculty in the technical institutes and go in for in-service training of teachers too.
"Teaching is no more black board, chalk and talk business but means being more interactive now, where the teachers should be more accessible and more knowledgeable and constantly supplemented by other aids like internet," said Saini.