118 years of trust
Chandigarh, Monday, December 28, 1998
 
Higher allocation alone will not do
By PPS Gill
NOTWITHSTANDING the network of schools in Punjab, the academic outcome is poor and dropout rate high. This is despite the government having made education free and "compulsory" up to a particular class, both for boys and girls.

"Twinning" concept
Prof Robert Snow is Dean, faculty of engineering, at the prestigious Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.

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Higher allocation alone will not do
By PPS Gill

NOTWITHSTANDING the network of schools in Punjab, the academic outcome is poor and dropout rate high. This is despite the government having made education free and "compulsory" up to a particular class, both for boys and girls. To improve the rate of female literacy, which is 50 per cent at present, more incentives are now available for girls students.

There exists a world of difference between urban and rural schools. The worst are government schools with teachers working at their "favoured" places making the student-teacher ratio a mismatch. For them absenteeism is a rule as a major contributing factor to poor standards and drop-outs.

Higher allocation of budget alone will not help. A "missionary zeal" is needed to improve, expand and provide basic infrastructure in the schools to attract students and sustain their interest. Parents too, particularly, in rural areas, have to be motivated and educated to send their children to school.

Both the Governor and the Finance Minister in their speeches in the Vidhan Sabha have referred to constitution of peoples’ committees to improve education and make it more "qualitative".

Claims of a network of schools is one thing, adequate infrastructure is another.The schools, what to speak to buildings, play fields, drinking water, toilets, furniture, electricity, library et all even do not have boundary wall or school name board. Despite several schemes and grants to poor students, a vast majority is without proper textbooks, exercise books and "basic tools" of learning, what to speak of seating arrangements.

Will Punjab march into the next century with a poorly managed education system, which produces graduates who cannot find jobs commensurate with the degrees and certificates on one hand and a large number of school dropouts, who remain unemployable on the other hand?Social scientists say both categories particularly the latter are dangerous malcontents, who can take to militancy.

There are schools with less staff and there are schools with excess staff. There are schools with no building worth its name and there are teachers for whom more than teaching retaining the job is important. It is, perhaps, in this context that a group of officers, who have examined Punjab’s financial health, was constrained to comment:"There is competitive upgradation of schools from primary to middle, middle to high and high to higher secondary level. The norms for establishing the upgraded facilities have been ignored. Instead of consolidating the existing infrastructure, we have created poorly equipped new infrastructure or upgraded institutions without corresponding basic facilities". Only 20 per cent schools have buildings.

The expenditure incurred or earmarked does not commensurate with returns in terms of academic results. Talk of 97 per cent enrolment at primary level, when drop-out rate is 60 per cent? The indiscriminate neglect of government schools and giving of "grants-in-aid" to privately managed educational institutions has reduced education to just another commodity.Education too, now has a price tag. More attractive, the "packaging" (facilities and outlook), better the "product".

Universities and colleges are no better. It is understood that aid given to these has risen manifold and education quality has declined steeply. The government doled out Rs 13 crore in 1984-85 to the universities. That figure now (1998-99) is Rs 59.18 crore. In respect of private colleges, the corresponding figures for the two years is Rs 8.79 crore and Rs 55.79 crore, respectively. Neither the universities nor the colleges have made attempts to mobilise additional resources.

One wonders where all the money meant for schools goes. In rural area school land and labour are provided by villagers. Yet school buildings remain in a state of neglect and often inadequate to house all students and staff. Of what use will be the institutions of higher learning: medical and technical universities and institutions (which will also be starved of funds) when there will be no eligible students to take admission given the poor standards of education?

The Punjab Vidhan Sabha was told last week in a written reply that in 830-odd senior secondary schools there were 1,800 vacancies of lecturers. In respect of 12,900-odd primary schools, the strength of teachers was less by 1,700 against the sanctioned strength. The status of middle and high schools is no better. The maximum shortage of teachers is in subjects like English (recently made compulsory and introduced at the primary level), political science, Punjabi, maths, economics and history. Despite announcements and promises, the SAD-BJP government has failed to fill the teachers’ vacancies caused due to death, retirement or transfer. There is no policy for staff positioning as such.

The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in its recent report has expressed serious concern over the "deteriorating" primary education in Punjab. It wants "qualitative improvement."

There has been talk of "empowerment" of grassroot, democratically elected institutions, panchayats and municipalities, as per 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. If implemented, things can improve, feel experts.

Will Punjab show the way to ensure "quality improvement" in education"?
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"Twinning" concept

Prof Robert Snow is Dean, faculty of engineering, at the prestigious Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Melbourne, Australia. An alumnus of the University of New South Wales, he is an expert in the fields of mineral processing and environment preservation and management and has worked as a consultant to companies engaged in the recycling of waste — especially lubricating oils — in the USA and Australia. His colleague, Dr Hema Sharda, is senior academic and postgraduate course coordinator in the Department of Computer Systems Engineering, RMIT.

The two academics were in Chandigarh recently to scout for "twinning" partners for their postgraduate programmes. In between their daylong hectic schedule, they found time to explain the "twinning" concept to Abhilash Kumar.

Q. How would you explain the "twinning" concept to a lay person?

A. ‘Twinning’ is a part of our strategy to internationalise our academic programmes. The idea is to establish mutually beneficial, long-term partnerships between RMIT on the one hand and universities and government-level organisations in other countries on the other.

Q. What, according to you, are the benefits of twinning?

A. Firstly, twinning helps in lowering the costs of quality education. For instance, instead of pursuing a technical course in Australia for its entire duration, a student from a (partner) institution in India may attend only one semester at RMIT to acquire those skills facilities for which are lacking in the home country. Similarly, for Australian students.

Q. How will their association with RMIT benefit the Indian universities ?

A. RMIT has earned world-wide recognition for its engineering programmes. Our focus has always been on imparting professional skills meeting the present and future requirements of industry. Today, with our extensive experience in the field of development, we are in a position to assist Indian organisations in evolving innovative programmes best suited to the developmental needs of their country.

Q. Where does Chandigarh figure in RMIT’s plans?

A. For RMIT, Chandigarh is still an uncharted territory. However, in the coming months we intend to explore the possibilities for teaming up with institutions in this city. Top

 

Career queries

I have secured admission to a postgraduate course in the United Kingdom. Can you please tell me if my wife and I can both take up jobs while I study?

Deepak Galgotia, Amritsar

Postgraduate students can undertake teaching and laboratory demonstration work without a work permit, only if the work does not exceed six hours a week.

While it might be possible to obtain permission to work part-time or during vacations, it is often difficult to find suitable work. You will have to look quite hard to find a job that suits you. It would help to consult your student adviser or college welfare officer for advice. However it may be wise not to expect to finance your studies by working in the UK (in any case, you will be required to convince the immigration officers that you can fund your studies without relying on work in the UK).

In most cases, the wife of an international student will be allowed to work, part-time or full-time, without obtaining permission. If your spouse accompanies you as your dependant and you are admitted to a course for a minimum of 12 months, she will be able to work without a work permit (if the husband of a female student is admitted to the UK as her dependant, he would however not be permitted to work).

For further information, contact the British Council Office, 17 Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001.

I would love to go into TV production. I’m told that the best way is to start out as a Production Assistant. What does the work entail?

Kamal Sharma, Panchkula

Scratch below the surface of any successful TV producer and you’re sure to find that one of his or her first jobs in the business was that of a Production Assistant. This position is considered a perfect hands-on entry-level job for those who have the ambition to move into the production end of the business.

Production Assistants (PAs) are the troops who work under the supervision of the producer or production manager. They are the gofers and busy bees, making sure everyone is where they need to be, transporting actors and crew to the sets, getting the reams of paperwork signed by the right people, making up and distributing the call sheet for the next day’s shooting schedule, making the late-night telephone calls to announce costume fittings or last-minute changes and so on.

For detailed information about jobs in the television industry, refer to Careers in Television & Broadcasting published by CARING.

I have completed my B.Com and am keen on taking up a bank job. Could you please provide me the details of the Bank P.O. Exam?

Shantanu Chopra, Chandigarh

The Written Examination for Probationary Officers in nationalised banks consists of a two-part test: Objective and Descriptive.

The Objective Test comprises four sections:

  • Reasoning (75 questions, 80 marks)
  • Quantitative Aptitude (50 questions, 60 marks
  • General Awareness (50 questions, 60 marks)
  • English Language (50 questions, 50 marks).

Be careful of making wild guesses; there is negative marking.

The Descriptive Section (60 marks) is allotted a total time of 45 minutes. Of the four Questions, you have to attempt three. This is only a qualifying test and marks secured in this section will not be added to your final tally. In order to prepare for this section, You will have to read one or two newspapers daily along with General Knowledge magazines. Regularly scanning a competition magazine may be a good idea as also getting your basics in Maths (of the level of Class IX and X) clear.

After clearing the Written Examination, you will be called for an Interview.

I wish to join the Indian Navy. Could you please tell me about the job opportunities available for women in the Indian Navy?

Veena Chawla, Ambala

In the Indian Navy, unmarried women are eligible for several non-combatant posts in the Short Service Commission (SSC) (permanent commission jobs are meant only for men). The duration of SSC is 7 years, extendable to 10 years. Job opportunities for women exist in the following branches:

Executive Branch

  • Law Cadre: Eligibility:LLB with 55% aggregate and qualifying for enrolment as an Advocate. Age: 22-27 years.
  • Logistics Cadre: Eligibility:BA (Economics) or BCom with II Div. or Graduation in any subject with degree/diploma in Material/ Financial Management. Age: 19-25 years.
  • ATC (Air Traffic Control): Eligibility:BSc II Div. with 50% marks in Physics and Maths. Age: 19-25 years.

Educational Branch

Eligibility:Master’s degree in one of the following with 55% aggregate:

  • Physics (with Maths in BSc) OR
  • Maths (with Physics in BSc) OR
  • Chemistry (with Physics &Maths in BSc) OR
  • Computer Applications/Computer Science (with either Physics or Maths in BSc) OR
  • Humanities (Eng/Eco/Hist/Pol. Sc.) OR
  • Engineering degree (Mech/Elect/ Computer Sc/Tech) Age: 21-25 years.Top

 


Campus scene
Proposal raises controversy
From S.P. Sharma

SOLAN: Apparently bitten by the "saffronisation" bug, the Academic Council of the country’s prestigious Dr Yashwant Singh Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry at Solan has approved a proposal to amend the statutes to sideline the Students Welfare Officer and appoint a chief warden to control the hostels.

This move is being viewed as yet another step of the BJP government to allegedly install its own activists to take care of the sensitive portfolio of hostels on the campus.

The proposal by Mr S.S. Jhina, a nominated member of the Board of Management of the university, was cleared by the Academic Council at its meeting on December 15. It will now be put before the Board of Management for final approval. It is alleged that Mr Jhina enjoyed close proximity with the BJP leadership.

The move comes close to the heels of another controversy of a BJP activist having been appointed warden of a hostel allegedly in violation of norms.

The BJP government headed by Mr P.K. Dhumal has already come under criticism for "saffronising" the educational institutions in the state.

A section of the faculty of the Horticulture and Forestry Department is annoyed over the unprecedented haste in which the item regarding appointment of Chief Warden was brought before the Academic Council as a "spot agenda" at its recent meeting. The members of the Academic Council were not even given an opportunity to examine the proposal which would effect drastic amendments in the statutes.

The proposal was first put before the Board of management vide item number 10 at its meeting on November 10. However, it was realised that the proposal pertained to academics and was required to be taken up first by the academic council for recommendations.

The proposal aims at stripping the powers of the students welfare officer who has so far been exercising control over the hostels.

Clause 23.3 of the existing statutes provides that "under the overall control of the Students Welfare Officer, supervision of the affairs of each hostel shall be entrusted to a teacher designated as hostel warden for a prescribed period".

However, the new proposal suggests that the Chief Warden will be either under the Dean or the Vice-Chancellor. It aims at appointing a senior faculty member on the post who can effectively manage the hostel affairs on the analogy of Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla.

A question mark has been put on the move reportedly by Dr A.S. Chandel, Student Welfare Officer, and a member of the Academic Council and the Senate, who has brought the matter to the notice of the Chancellor, Mrs V.S. Rama Devi.

He is learnt to have written to the Chancellor and also the Vice-Chancellor, Prof, L.R. Verma, against that the Academic Council has no powers either under the Act or statutes to recommend creation of the post of Chief Warden and delegate all powers of the Students Welfare Officer to the Chief Warden as far as hostel management is concerned.

* * *

It is almost certain now that the BJP government is not in favour of giving another term to Mr C.L. Kundu, as Vice-Chancellor of the Himachal Pradesh University at Shimla. Pressure has reportedly been built on the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, to appoint a teacher with leanings towards the BJP as VC.Top

 


Admissions

Directorate General of Shipping, Jahaz Bhavan, W.H. Marg, Mumbai: B.Sc (Nautical Science) and Marine Engineering degree course. Test on May 8 and 9. Forms available in branches of Syndicate Bank. Last date January 11.

Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi-682022: Ph.D, M.Phil, M.Tech, diploma and certificate courses. Test on March 6 and 7. Contact Director, IRAA unit. Last date January 20.

CEDTI, A-34, Industrial Area, Phase VIII, SAS Nagar: Advanced diploma in Software Technology/Systems Maintenance Engineering/Electronics and Circuit Design. Contact institute. Last date January 18.

Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan, Nauni: Doctoral programme in College of Horticulture Forestry. Contact university. Last date January 23.

Defence Materials and Stores Research and Development Establishment, GT Road, Kanpur-208013: Junior Research Fellows in Organic/ Polymers/ Physical/ Inorganic Chemistry. Contact institute. Last date January 10.

Defence Research and Development Establishment, Jhansi Road, Gwalior-474002: Junior Research Fellows in Polymer Chemistry/Analytical Chemistry/Entomology. Contact institute. Last date January 10.Top

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