laying the foundation: why neglect higher technical education so much


 laying the foundation: Empowering  technology students

how will foundation of a high growth economy of any state like gujarat become strong if seventy per cent positions of the teachers in government polytechnics and engineering colleges are vacant. Our of more than two dozen polytechnics and colleges, hardly two or three have full time principles. why so much of indifference?

There are several arguments in defence of current situation: there are not enough applicants, most students wish to become entrepreneurs rather than teachers after getting education, and students are able to learn on their own any way. Now if for most technical trades, there are not even mechanics or technicians, then is not the situation most alarming. Come to think  of it, if expenditure on consumables is not taking place ( because of lack of technical trained manpower), will not planners and senior leaders of the department come to know of the of the problem.

let me first clarify why none of these arguments are tenable. If we can get nurses, secretaries and several other professionals from other states, why can not we get teachers from other states as well ( assuming that there is indeed a shortage of qualified teachers in the state). Further, what will be the employability of the students who are passing out of such a system of governance.  I think the youth of any society is the foundation on whose shoulders the future models of growth have to be built. But under such a pathetic situations, we can not say that w erae making an honest attempt to invest in their future. One can say that those wo wanted to really learn, would go to private colleges. Does it imply that government institutions can thus absolve themselves of their responsibility of providing high quality education?

I am very pained to see the indifference of the educational leaders  to such a pathetic situation for quite a long time. I am sure brilliant minds in bureaucracy  can find justification for any situation. But is that what the real challenge is? The real challenge is to a) immediately take steps to fill all the vacancies without any further delay and get the best teachers from any part of the country( don’t people all over the country and the world buy products and services provided by Gujarati companies and entrepreneurs entirely on merit and competitiveness?), b) upgrade the facilities and infrastructure soonest so that students get training in latest skills demanded by msme and other enterprises, c) create library of video lectures on different subjects with the contractual arrangement with a network of high quality teachers who will answer questions of the students if the same are not answered satisfactorily locally; c) engage industries to adopt different polytechnics and departments of  engineering colleges to strengthen their capacity, provide access to the students to their own workshops and mentors, and d) link the students and msme and informal sector grassroots innovators through platforms like for creating innovation clusters. Gujarat Technical University has taken several initiatives in this regard but many more need to be taken up.

Recently in a meeting of principles of more than 80 polytechnics, i learned many examples of students having done many creative experiments and innovations, I will talk about these next week but suffice to state that we can not blame our youth for not doing enough. It is our fault if we are not challenging our  students enough about pending social and technological problems. I am very happy that GTU has planned in collaboration with of sristi about summer shodhyatra by the technical students in msme clusters to do four things: a) benchmark the current level of energy and material efficiency to find local best practices, b) identify the technical problems which remain to be addressed ( and then they will work on these in final year), c) identify the innovations in these clusters and d) list down policy  bottlenecks which are coming in their way of harnessing their potential. I hope that students will deliver on these expectations. But will policy makers deliver on societal expectation about high quality educational system?

Anil K Gupta