118 years of trust
Chandigarh, Monday, October 12, 1998
 
Politics of upgradation
From Surinder Bhardwaj
FATEHGARH SAHIB:
The condition of government schools is far from satisfactory in the district. At least 60 government primary schools have been closed for want of staff, sufficient infrastructure and other basic amenities.

Promoting industry-academia partnership
By Antarpreet Singh
EDUCATION is fundamental for the growth of industry and trade in any country. The reason behind the economic success of industrial giants like the USA, Japan, Germany and other emerging economies has been the right kind of education.

Human rights as subject
From Vimal Sumbly
HISAR:
On the request of the Union Home Ministry, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has constituted a committee on human rights studies for introduction of the subject at the higher level.

Book culture for whose benefit?
From Varinder Walia
AMRITSAR:
On the pretext of spreading "book culture" in the remote rural areas, the high- powered committee constituted by the state government at a meeting held recently under the chairmanship of the Director, Languages Department, has recommended the titles of more than 3,000 books.

 

Politics of upgradation

From Surinder Bhardwaj

FATEHGARH SAHIB: The condition of government schools is far from satisfactory in the district. At least 60 government primary schools have been closed for want of staff, sufficient infrastructure and other basic amenities.

In its over enthusiasm to make its adult literacy scheme a success, the government has put regular teachers from schools on the project. It appears the focus has shifted from primary education, which is the fundamental right of a child, to adult coaching.

Schools in Tana, Bthali, Hallo Tali, Saifalpura, Asak Pura and Patarsi Khurd are those among hit due to this shift in emphasis.

Many schools are housed in old and unsafe buildings. The P.W.D. has declared the buildings of 22 middle and senior secondary schools in the district as unsafe. The building of Government High School, Baras, was declared unsafe 7 years ago. As many as 400 students from surrounding villages attend this school. Many rooms of the school are without a roof. In the rainy season, the school has to be closed.

In the district 13 middle schools are being run without any proper building. Among these are the schools at Nurpura, Mobri, Ranwan, Khoje Majra, Mudian, Bhatehri, Gopalon, Rasoolpura, Ralley, Lakhanpur, Haripur and Dhyanumajra. Similarly, 11 senior secondary schools do not have any principal. 12 high schools are without a head master.

There is a shortage of 248 teachers in the district. Fifty posts of Punjabi teacher, 47 of Social Studies, 28 of Science, 83 Maths, 36 Hindi and four of D.P.Ed. are lying vacant. It is strange that two senior secondary schools at Tanda Bandha Kalan and High School, Khanian have no post of Punjabi teacher and Government Senior Secondary School, Raipur Majri, and High School Charhi, do not have the post of a Hindi teacher.

There is no proper distribution of staff with same schools having teachers than required for Government Senior Secondary School, Raipur Majri, has 11 students in the plus one class and five teachers have been appointed for them.

Most of these problems have risen because of upgradation of schools for political reasons. The authorities feel that the schools should be upgraded after due recommendation of the District Education Officer. In some schools Commerce and Science subjects were introduced and teachers appointed in these subjects. However the enrolment of students to these courses was negligible, causing surplus staff.

The District Education Office had requested for the release of Rs 1,24,50,000 for repair, renovation and extension of 28 middle school buildings, Rs 1.32 crore for 28 high school buildings and Rs 89 lakh for senior secondary school buildings. But so far no money has been sanctioned.

When contacted, Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhuller DEO (S) and (Primary), said 300 posts of JBT, Head Teacher and Centre Head Teacher are lying vacant in the district. Some JBT teachers have been promoted as H.T. and CHT, causing more vacancies. He said the recruitment of E.T.T. teachers was being done.

Even then the district would be allotted only 100 posts. For the remaining posts, alternative arrangements would have to be made.

He said till the govt decided to recruit B.Ed. teachers in place of JBT, the shortage would remain.

He said the District Planning Board had not sanctioned sufficient funds for the repair of schools. Only funds for toilets had been approved. He said "we will mobilise the public for donation". Besides, funds from the PTA would be used for repair.
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Promoting industry-academia partnership

By Antarpreet Singh

EDUCATION is fundamental for the growth of industry and trade in any country. The reason behind the economic success of industrial giants like the USA, Japan, Germany and other emerging economies has been the right kind of education. This has been possible only through strong industry-academia ties. India faces a tough challenge in providing the right kind of education to a very large number of students in order to prepare them for shouldering responsibilities in the economic sector, which is poised for a double digit growth by the turn of the century.

India today has the dubious distinction of having the largest number of educated people who are unemployed for the simple reason that they are unemployable. In a couple of years India will have more than half of its population illiterate and a big chunk of so-called educated people unemployed.

This is an extremely poor reflection on our education system. Every year the government spends a huge amount of money on education. In spite of this, industry especially segments like software, telecom, microelectronics and several other high-tech areas, face a tremendous shortage of skilled manpower.

The education system in our country needs to be driven by the requirements of industry and trade. This would reduce the incidence of producing graduates and postgraduates who are unemployable as far as specialised jobs in the industrial sector are concerned. In the post-liberalisation era, India’s premier technology and management institutes have taken the lead in developing strong interfaces with leading local companies and multinationals.

Whereas IIT (Kanpur) has tied up with Motorola, IIT (Bombay) has joined hands with Intel Corporation of the USA. Intel has launched ‘Vidya’ to create awareness amongst schoolchildren regarding benefits of multimedia and Internet as tools of learning. The Indian Institute of Management, (Ahmedabad) in its efforts directed towards training practising managers, has so far conducted over 700 management development programmes and over 20 long-duration management education programmes. Even though regional management and technology institutes have taken initiatives to work closely with industry, much needs to be done in getting the desired results. In fact, IITs and IIMs can be good models for regional institutes to adopt.

Over the past 10 years or so, corporate managers in India have realised that human resource is the most vital input for long-term success. Technology can be acquired, money raised, machinery bought at best prices but there is no way one can trade for a quality manpower. Right people have to be inducted, trained and retained through well-planned efforts.

In this regard, the job of a human resource development manager becomes easier if the right kind of manpower is available from universities, engineering institutes, polytechnics, industrial training institutes and business schools.

The induction of right people eliminates the need of allocating huge resources for entry-level training. On job training (OJT) can be effective in such cases saving lot of time and money for the organisation. For an individual, learning is much faster in case of OJT as compared to conventional methods, wherein elaborate training precedes placement on the job.

For India to become truly competitive globally, industry and academia must complement each other. This can be achieved by:

Encouraging industry and academia to make conscious and systematic efforts instead of mere lip service and slogans.

Involving industry in designing curriculum, assigning projects, summer training and research activities.

Having industry liberally fund research projects, instituting scholarships, gifting away used or old equipment so that students can gain hands on experience.

Encouraging industry and trade organisations to act as a buffer between educational system and industry and trade. Organisations like CII, AIMA, Institution of Engineers and several others are already conducting various programmes and activities which involve academia as well as practising managers so as to bridge the gap between teaching and practice.

Arranging liberal loans from banks for students to buy computers or to pursue applied courses.

In an era of globalisation, the future belongs to those youngsters who are trained on world class technology and management practices. Only a strong industry-academia relationship can make this a reality.
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Human rights as subject

From Vimal Sumbly

HISAR: On the request of the Union Home Ministry, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has constituted a committee on human rights studies for introduction of the subject at the higher level.

According to a communication from the UGC Chairperson, Prof (Miss) A.S. Desai, to the Vice-Chancellor of Guru Jambeshwar University, Prof K.L. Johar, all colleges and universities have been asked to undertake various activities covering different aspects of the subject.

The university had organised a national-level seminar on human rights in June this year. The seminar, among others, was attended by the Union Law Minister, Mr Thambidurai, and several legal luminaries.

The colleges and universities have been asked to conduct "brainstorming workshops to plan for the inclusion of human rights in "teaching, research, extension and field outreach programmes." The UGC has suggested taking up programmes like street plays, dramas and songs to focus on human rights issues, specially those concerning women, children and the socially disadvantaged.

These plays could be performed in local community centres, adopted villages and strategic points such as railway and bus stations, it has suggested.

Special emphasis should be on women study centres to focus on women’s rights. Training programmes could be taken up with various sub-systems in and outside the university, the UGC chief has suggested.

The utilisation of the services of centres for adult education, continuing education and field outreach in 100 universities across the country are being planned, apart from refresher and orientation courses through 45 Academic Staff Colleges in India.

Besides enlightening the masses on the concept of human rights, the project is planned at clarifying various misconceptions on the issue by the international community about India.

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Book culture for whose benefit?

From Varinder Walia

AMRITSAR: On the pretext of spreading "book culture" in the remote rural areas, the high- powered committee constituted by the state government at a meeting held recently under the chairmanship of the Director, Languages Department, has recommended the titles of more than 3000 books.

The meeting lasted less than three hours. No procedure was followed for the recommendation of the books for rural and municipal libraries.

This has caused a lot of resentment among Punjabi writers. They allege that the bulk purchase of research books recommended by the committee will be sheer wastage of public money.

Dr Bikram Singh Ghumman, Managing Director, Punjabi Writers Cooperative Society said, glaring irregularities were committed in the selection of books. Certain books in English, Ph.D thesis and research books which were of no use for those using the rural libraries were recommended by the committee. This was likely to be counter-productive to the efforts being made to spread the book culture.

Mr Kulwant Singh Suri, president of the Punjabi Publishers Association and member of the high-powered committee, agrees that books of known publishers could not be recommended as most members were "in haste" to return to their respective destinations. He, however, disagreed with Dr Ghumman that publishers should not be members of the committee. He said writers and publishers together could recommend books better.

Mr Suri claimed that the high-powered committee was constituted at the initiative of the publishers and writers. He said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister had committed to give sufficient grant for spreading book culture in the rural areas at an international Punjabi conference, held in the USA.

Mr Suri said the state government should set up a directorate of libraries by passing Libraries Act in the assembly. He said this would go long way in spreading the book culture.

He, however, appreciated the state government for earmarking Rs 1 crore for libraries. This would help publishers bring out better books in future.

The committee, headed by Director, Languages, has Director (Rural Development), DPI (Colleges), Director, Youth Services, and 15 other members.
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  CAMPUS SCENE

Rejection list too long
From M.L. Kak

JAMMU: The process of selection of candidates for various postgraduate courses in Jammu University has been completed. A large number of students are dismayed over their failure to get seats even in the Arts faculties because of incredibly high merit. The rejection list has been indeed long.

For the past over two decades there has been barely any increase in the number of seats, especially in the science faculty. As a result, the increase in applications for admission is seven to nine times more than the number of seats.

The Department of Chemistry registered the highest merit in the science faculty and for 18 open seats, the merit ranged between 77.9 per cent and 83.1 per cent in the B.Sc. Even in economics those selected had a pass percentage between 61 per cent to 74.47. As many as 900 candidates had applied for admission in law faculty which has 160 seats, the highest in any faculty in the University.

Opinion differs on the need for increasing the number of seats in every faculty in Jammu University. Those who favour a sharp increase in the seats argue that the state government and the university authorities should take into account the increase in the number of candidates seeking admission in various postgraduate courses. Apart from the increase in local candidates, a large number of students from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal also apply for various postgraduate courses.

They suggest that the government should increase the infrastructure required for enhancing the number of seats in each faculty. However, the university authorities are of the view that the campus is already facing financial difficulties. Within the available resources, it is possible to increase the number of seats.

The delay in transferring land to the university has delayed its expansion programme. Parents have suggested to the university authorities to introduce the evening college system in faculties which receive a larger number of applications for admission. If this system is introduced, the university will have to increase the number of teachers and employees in the administrative wing.

Those who oppose any further increase in the seats assure that dropout has become a normal phenomenon. One of the university teachers says if the rate of dropout in the first semester is 10 per cent, it increases to 20 per cent in the third semester and 30 per cent in the fourth and the final semester. Hence, there is no need for enhancing the seats in the postgraduate faculties.

What has intrigued visitors to the university is the drop in the number of those seeking admission in English. Among those who applied for admission in the course, only 77 had English literature as one of the subjects in B.A. Reports say the department has seized to be as attractive because of a couple of "pretty faces" who rule the department.

In comparison, the Department of Urdu has received 110 applications against 27 seats.

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  DIARY

Prisons vs education

Thousands of high-school students left their classrooms in San Leandro, California, USA, to protest against what they said was too much state spending on prisons and too little on schools. The students marched through the city on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, giving speeches at a sheriff’s office and a mall, reports AP. The protest came in the wake of a study by the Justice Policy Institute that cited a growing gap in the growth of state spending on prisons and higher education.

Computers can be bad too

The USA’s largest study on the use of computers in schools, conducted by New Jersey-based Educational Testing Service, has concluded that the $5 billion being spent each year on educational technology is actually hurting children in many cases because the computers are not being put to good use, reports The Washington Post. The study of nearly 14,000 fourth and eighth grade students showed that students who spent more time on computers in school actually scored worse on math tests than students who spent less time with computers. The students’ lower scores appeared to be caused by the ineffective but widespread use of computers for repetitive math drills — instead of simulations and real-life applications of math concepts — computer uses that seem to improve math scores. The research offers the first solid evidence of what works and what does not work when computers are used in classrooms.

Global English dictionary

Microsoft and Bloomsbury Publishing, a British company, have said they will jointly produce a new dictionary reflecting global use of the English language. The Encarta World English Dictionary will be released in electronic and print forms in August 1999. It will feature more than three million words of text and involves more than 250 lexicographers in 10 countries. It will list meanings and usage of words ranging from Shakespeare’s time to present-day street slang, reports the US daily Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
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