Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When M.Tech students teach B.Tech, Everyday is 'Teacher's Day'

While the Nation celebrates Teacher’s day on 5th September, Government College of Engineering, Amravati (GCEA), celebrates it every day!

Here, students of M.Tech (Master of Technology) take classes - both theory and practical - of B.Tech students. "Sometimes 4 out of 5 theory subjects in a semester are taught by these M.Tech students, while all the practicals are conducted by them," told a 2nd year student on the condition of Anonymity. "We only have one 'Regular faculty' - our HoD (Head of the Department) - who hardly teaches," he added. "A girl who just passed out (from B.Tech) last year is now teaching us!" tells a second year student, with a smirk.

Every M.Tech student who has qualified GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) has to do 'Teaching Assistantship' (TA). They devote 8 hours per week in classroom teaching and/or laboratory assignments for which they get a stipend of Rs. 8,000/month. However, In the name of 'Classroom teaching' they are being forced to teach theory subjects for an entire semester at the cost of students' career.

'Classroom Teaching' is meant to provide some teaching experience to the students," said Dr Rita Goyal, Senior Consultant at National Project Implementation unit (NPIU). NPIU implements Technician Education Projects of the government assisted by World Bank. TEQIP is one such project which talks about this Assistantship. She said that neither an individual nor many such M.Tech students collectively, be forced to teach theory subjects to B.Tech students. The college must have faculty with appropriate qualifications.

Not all students at GCEA take theory subjects but there are no criteria behind making this choice. "It's based on our discretion" was the reply of Mr Chatur, HoD of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE).
Department of Technical Education (DTE) under which the institute comes, clearly mentions on its website that one has to be at least M.E/M. Tech with a 1st class in either Bachelors or Masters degree to be an Assistant Professor on contract. But Mr. Chature confessed that they had teachers on contract in the past who were just!

While these 'Student-Teachers' can't say anything, B. Tech students have chosen not to. "We have learnt not to ask questions because their own concepts aren't clear, which they themselves confess," shrugged a B.Tech student. But the glum mood in the hostel room was lightened up when his friend recounted - "often they forget what they had mugged up and then they stare at the walls."
Also, the college enjoys academic autonomy, which means papers are set and evaluated within the college. Hence the students prefer remaining quiet and keeping teachers happy rather than jeopardising their results by raising this issue.

But the ground reality is - the college is suffering from acute shortage of teachers. The CSE department has only 7 teachers while the requirement is of 15. Only the HoD is a regular faculty while rest are on contract. Rs 24,000 is what a contract-faculty gets. Moreover, the recruitments are done by Maharashtra Public Service commission (MPSC). "The college has noting in its own hand," whines Prof. D. J. Chaudahri, Principal of GCE.

However, there is certainly one thing in college's hand - the future of 240 odd B. Tech students - with which it's playing.

(this college is just the tip of the iceberg, the rot is far deeper and widespread throughout India)