From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : AICTE
Mains level : Paper 2- Issues of technical education in India
This year, AICTE approved the closure of 63 engineering colleges across the country.
Deterioration of quality
- Tweaking with curriculum: Private entrepreneurs took the lead to meet the growing demand of the country in technical education in the mid-Eighties, but with little idea of the subject.
- Subjects like materials, applied physics and thermodynamics which forms the building blocks of engineering became dispensable.
- Because they were both tough to teach for the teachers and tough to pass for the students.
- Expansion: This softening of subjects coupled with unfettered expansion in the early and mid-2000s, resulted in real dilution of the overall standards in the country.
- Lack of adequate number of teachers, lack of quality in those available, inability of the management to make adequate investments in a dynamic environment, lack of employment opportunities, shelf life of skills coming down with every technology-related intervention and a constant experimentation with curriculum have all been the bane of quality in technical education.
- Engineering education suffers from regulatory gaps, poor infrastructure, lack of qualified faculty and the non-existent industry linkage that contributed to the abysmal employability of graduates from most of these institutes.
- No linkage with Industry: Not a single industry body, be it CII, FICCI or ASSOCHAM has managed to effectively inform the education planners on the growth in different employment sectors.
- No independent body to suggest AICTEC: The government also has not taken any tangible steps to set up an independent body to advise AICTE on this vital aspect.
- Excessive changes: A constant fiddling with the curriculum, reducing total credits, giving multiple choices in the name of flexibility, dispensing with mathematics and physics at the qualification level, teaching in local languages may all be good arguments, but one must assess their utility and their effect on technical education in the long run.
- Proactive: Rather than being reactive, institutions must proactively define the practicing elements of education.
- Investment in teaching: The corrective measures for these shortfalls are technology intensive, are experiential, and need investments in teaching.
- Quality assurance body: The ultimate measure of performance is embedded in quality assurance.
- The need of the hour is to create a truly autonomous quality assurance body at an arms-length from the government, manned by eminent persons both from the industry as well as academia.
The education paradigm is staring at a large shift and technical education cannot remain immune to that change.