Sunday, August 27, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

State of higher education-V
Classroom teaching on the slide
By Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

CHANDIGARH, Aug 26 — One of the major reasons for “deterioration in classroom teaching” is the failure of both state governments and the universities in enforcing guidelines of the University Grants Commission.

For example, none of the universities in the region — in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh — or any of the colleges affiliated to these universities come anywhere near following the180-teaching day norm. The average has been between 95 days and 105 days. In certain cases, it is as low as 55 to 60 teaching days in an academic year.

At the time of implementation of the University Grants Commission composite scheme with retrospective effect from January 1, 1996, the state governments — both Punjab and Haryana — besides the Chandigarh Administration made it clear that while granting the financial demands of college and university teachers, they wanted the beneficiaries to strictly follow the UGC guidelines as far as classroom teaching was concerned.

The UGC wanted that each academic year must have a minimum of 180 teaching days. These days should exclude both admission and examination days. The guidelines issued in late 1998 also warranted that each academic session must have at least 30 weeks of effective teaching. Each teacher must work for a minimum of 40 hours a week, including 16 hours of basic teaching. The remaining 24 hours should be dedicated to tutorials, practicals, seminars and other academic activities, including those of the subject societies for better interaction between students and teachers.

The Chandigarh Administration issued written instructions in 1999 to all colleges making it mandatory for the college lecturers and teachers to remain present in the college for a minimum of six hours a day. But the instructions were hardly enforced.

Only last week, the Punjab Education Minister wanted the Education Department to circulate afresh the UGC guidelines in all colleges and monitor the progress of college lecturers on monthly basis.

The Haryana Government, too, has reiterated that at the time of granting UGC recommendations about pay scales and other financial benefits, it was made mandatory for the college teachers and lecturers to follow the UGC norms on teaching.

Interestingly, some portions of the UGC Composite scheme have never been implemented or even circulated. These pertain to “students’ evaluation of classroom teaching” and “code of conduct for teachers”.

Investigations reveal that on an average the presence of a teacher or lecturer on the college campus varies between three hours to four hours in a day.

One of the major reasons cited for 95 to 105 teaching days in an academic session against a mandatory 180-teaching day session has been “arbitrariness” with which both universities and colleges handle both admissions and annual examinations.

The new academic session, perhaps, did not start in any university or college in the region in duly this year. Kurukshetra University declared its B.A. (First year) examination result only some days ago after holding the examinations in time in April this year. And Punjabi University, Patiala, is still to declare B.A. (first year) result. Same is the story with examinations held in other classes, especially some post-graduate courses.

When August is about to come to end, admissions are continuing in almost all universities and colleges of the region. They will continue until August 31, at places with the permission of the vice-chancellors.

So if a new academic session starts on September 1, how come a college or a university can adhere to the UGC norms on classroom teaching. Interestingly, the colleges discontinue teaching for three weeks, and at times more, prior to annual examination giving students “preparatory holidays”. So in reality, actual teaching would be reduced from the first week of September to the last week of February or first week of March with two major fortnightly breaks — one in September and the second in December. It is during this period that two terminal examinations are also held. This hardly leaves any time for classroom teaching.

The examination system, evaluation of answer sheets and admissions are three areas which need to be streamlined effectively and strictly to enforce academic discipline both on college and university campuses throughout the region.


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