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UGC to tone up quality of teaching

UGC to tone up quality of teaching
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A critical appraisal of the role of these colleges indicates that they largely succeeded in raising the bar of training. The current focus of these...

A critical appraisal of the role of these colleges indicates that they largely succeeded in raising the bar of training. The current focus of these colleges is to familiarize teachers with the operation of ICTs in higher education; web-based teaching, academic writing, through e-learning The idea of the University Grants Commission's Chairman requesting Vice-Chancellors to involve the faculty in contributing to e- PG Pathsala is appreciable. (The Hans India, April 20) is appreciable. Prof. Ved Prakash deserves congratulations on taking up the e-dimension, which is the third wave in the learning process, the other two being correspondence and the distance mode, respectively. In this e-initiative, 77 subjects were selected by the UGC as part of the National Mission on Education of the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development. The UGC is displaying eagerness to address the issues involved in quality augmentation. The 650+universities and 35,000+colleges will hopefully reap the benefit. There is a paradigm shift in teaching-learning processes across the world due to curricular reforms aimed at making educational programmes competitive, skill- oriented and mostly seen from their employment orientation. The UGC's sensitivity to the need for updating knowledge and skills is evident from its earlier interventions too. For example, the University Leadership Improvement Programmes (ULIP) funded by it in the 1970's led to organization of summer / winter schools in specific disciplines in Degree College/University teachers to continuously update their knowledge base. In the late 1980's, as part of the 1986 National Education Policy, the UGC institutionalized these quality improvement programmes through staff development scheme. Academic staff colleges were born out this felt need, and their contribution to quality improvement and current status deserve assessment. There are 70 academic staff colleges across the country. Their mandate is to offer need-based and relevant teaching quality improvement programmes. Since the 1980s the staff colleges have been contributing to augmenting of quality. In a highly heterogeneous teaching and learning scenario, offering a uniform module of training is a challenge to new capacity-building institutions. A critical appraisal of the role of these colleges indicates that they largely succeeded in raising the bar of training. The current focus of these colleges is to familiarize teachers with the operation of ICTs in higher education; web-based teaching, academic writing, through e-learning. The research component gets adequate focus in the programme. Staff Colleges are also engaged in disseminating knowledge about e-governance practices. Padma Vibhushan Prof. Yashpal was at the helm of the UGC when the crucial decision relating to the new role of universities � training � was added to their traditional functions of teaching, research and extension. In the beginning, the staff colleges offered Orientation Courses for newly recruited lecturers and Refresher Courses for those who have put in more service. While Orientation Courses contain items on brass-tacks of teaching, with appropriate modules on personality development, refresher courses primarily focused on knowledge upgradation. The professional development programmes impart skills on generating e-content and e-learning processes through tools like Media Wiki, MOODLE (Management learning systems), and Online Teaching. The participants, comprising degree college / universities level lecturers received them with a mixed feeling. It is generally observed that participants from rural areas looked at it as an opportunity to upgrade their skills and knowledge levels. Twenty-five years after inaugurating the scheme, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) took up a major study of the scheme. The report classified all the colleges under three categories i.e., Performer, Under-performer, Non-performer. The study noted that only 10 out of 66 ASCs are performers in which Academic Staff College, University of Hyderabad, stood at fourth place. In assessing the contribution of the staff colleges the NAAC took into account the following: (a) curricular aspects covering the components, advocacy, spectrum of workshops, disciplines covered under refresher courses. (b) Programme organization, Delivery and Evaluation which included the current relevance of the theme, use of educational technology, strategies and methodologies used in teaching-learning processes, innovative methods adopted in the programme delivery. (c) Governance and Functional efficiency. The Planning Commission, at a meeting recently, resolved to set up 12 high-level Faculty Development Centres across the country. Keeping in view the experience of organization of programmes by Academic Staff Colleges for the last 25 years, a few suggestions for their strengthening are in order. The neo-liberal reforms in social sector brought in enormous changes in the policies concerning the social sector. More and more institutions are inclined to contractualise teaching jobs. The role of State institutions (except Central Universities), therefore, needs to be analysed afresh. Staff Colleges initially had to contend with cynicism as teaching is regarded as 'a gift'. Once it got linked to career- profession, academia started grudgingly acknowledging their presence! Staff Colleges could organize 5,689 programmes during the 11th Plan. What was the impact of these programmes? In view of the resolve of the government to set up world class universities, the Staff Development Programmes assume significance as quality, teaching and research is an imperative for attaining that status. Even to improve our position in the world rankings, a renewed effort is needed to augment quality. Perhaps, the ePathsala will supply the necessary impetus to the UGC's ongoing quality improvement drive. The writer is a Senior Lecturer, UGC Academic Staff College, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad Email:drss_babu@yahoo.co.in
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