Can We Have Quality Assurance in Technical Education?

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SHAH KHALID

How to maintain quality Technical education is a great concern to everyone. The sphere of Technical education has been marked by a phenomenal expansion during the last six decades all over the world with Jammu & Kashmir being no exception. However, the intake capacity of seats for Diploma Engineering programmes is more than application forms received for entrance examination. Since a couple of years, there has also been a huge decline in the cut off merit, as the candidate’s with 10 points got admitted in Diploma Engineering programme.
After getting admission, only 30% students complete their academic credits, but majority of them are waiting how and when backlog examinations will be conducted. The reason behind their failure is that, they have entered by chance in the Diploma Engineering programme and their academic base is of low standard. In this particular programme, 25 Basic Core subjects were taught and these subjects were also taught at Bachelors level. Students, who are pursuing B-Tech Engineering programmes, are facing a lot of inconvenience passing these subjects. For every subject, they are choosing the books of various authors, with high standard concepts with higher level engineering mathematics.
If we take the example of 11th and 12th classes, students are evaluating the various theorems of Mathematics like Matrix & Determents, Boolean algebra, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus and so on. When Diploma Electrical Engineering students enter in their 3rdsemester, they have a Basic Electrical Engineering subject, in which they have to learn various theorems like Norton’s theorem, Super-position theorems, to find current and voltage in a power circuit by applying Kirchhoff’s Voltage law and Kirchhoff’s current Law. These theorems can only be solved when they have a sound hold on 12thclass Mathematics, especially on the Matrix chapter. When they have a hold on matrix, then they can find from where the current goes and how much current passes through a circuit, by applying above said two laws. Not only at this stage, in future semesters, they have to examine and evaluate the various problems with higher order Engineering Mathematics.
If we take another example of Diploma in Electrical &Electronics & Communication, in Digital Electronics Subject, when students have a strong hold on GATES Chapter of 12thclass Physics and Boolean algebra from 12th Standard Mathematics, then they can go further to study the Digital Electronics. In every unit, they have to put out the logic Gate circuits after evaluating the various types of questions, based on logic circuits, by Boolean algebra expression.
In the 5thsemester of Electrical Engineering branch, there is an open elective subject namely instrumentation. In one of the unit of instrumentation subjects, students have to count the capacitance of extra high voltage lines like 132KV or 230KV. If the students know the steps of Differential and Integral calculus, which is the basic portion of 12th class Mathematics, then they can find the capacitance. These are a few examples, how much 10th based students get inconvenienced during the Diploma Engineering programmes, as some of them left the course mid-way, some didn’t clear the all credits in their course tenure, which is of 3 years.
Recently, while discussing the same issue with an Assistant Professor of an Engineering department, he said “we got some answer scripts from Technical Board, of Diploma engineering students for evaluation and majority of students failed. Even if someone passed he got only pass percentage with low grades”.
However, the Professor clearly put the blame on Government’s wrong policy on eligibility criteria, as 10thstandard students didn’t properly showing their mettle in Diploma Engineering programmes. He also demonstrated his dissatisfaction with some state Universities, Private Polytechnic Engineering colleges, which are running the Diploma Engineering programmes, and which didn’t properly meet the demand for Practical’s, as Power System Labs, Machines Labs, Digital Electronics & Embedded System Labs, Hardware & Networking Labs, Power Electronics Labs, Microprocessor Labs, wireless-Communication Labs, Antenna Labs, Power Electronics Labs, Concrete Technology Labs, CAD labs, Geo-Technical Lab, Surveying Labs are needed.
In 2012, the NC-Congress led coalition Government gave a nod for Diploma Engineering colleges in every district of Jammu and Kashmir, but still now most of them are running in rented accommodations or in CGI made sheds, as it seems that this was only a political manoeuvre . Some Private polytechnics have concrete buildings, but the infrastructure, teaching faculty and Lab’s are conspicuously missing. The present state of infrastructure in most Polytechnic Engineering colleges is pathetic. The state Government is beating drums to rejuvenate Technical Education sector in J&K, but all tall claims fall flat. On one hand, the state Government is converting colleges into Cluster Universities for higher studies, but on the other side our Technical Education sector is in a deplorable state.
The Diploma Engineering programmes came into being years back, but are still operating in a pathetic state. Our Diploma Engineering colleges do not impart quality based education, as the government is giving registration to shopping malls to run Diploma Engineering Programmes. To overcome on this failure of our Technical Education, Our Diploma engineering programmes needs a serious rethink. Here are a few suggestions:
The first step which Government must take is that, the eligibility criteria must be changed from 10th to 12thclass with Non-Medical Stream. But, the concern here is that, majority of +2 students want to pursue the Bachelors in Engineering. So, the Government must revise its policy to introduce integrated programmes at +2 level in Various Engineering branches;
The Jammu & Kashmir Board of Professional Entrance Examination (JK-BOPEE) which is the governing body for conducting the examination for Diploma Engineering Programmes, must change the previous entrance test paper pattern and a negative marking type pattern with different series of question papers should be implemented, so that meritorious students get selected;
The intake capacity for Diploma Engineering Programmes should be minimised at both Government as well as for Private Polytechnic Colleges and lateral entry quota at B-Tech level in state Universities must be increased. At present there are only 5 Lateral Entry seats in our State Universities.
The authorities must wake up and take appropriate action on ground, whether these private Polytechnics and Government Polytechnic Colleges are following the norms laid by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) or not. The Chancellor, Pro-Chancellor, Advisor to the Governor for Higher and Technical Education, Chairman JK-BOPEE, Controller of Examination JK-BOPEE, Vice-Chancellors of different varsities, Registrar’s and Deans of different varsities along with whole administrative machinery, must conduct a meeting and discuss the issue, so that it would help provide potential students an opportunity to strive for Technical Education, so that our institutes will become dynamic and demand drawn.
Dynamism is an essential feature of the individual lives and hence of nations. In order to meet new challenges it is imperative to respond critically and bring in changes. If we want to maintain the quality in Technical education, we have to stop unplanned expansion of Technical education and the crazy rush of Polytechnic colleges. Educational institutions perform a major role in transforming students as productive and functioning members of society. Colleges are the main support system for students who after finishing various courses find jobs, pursue higher studies. The idea is that colleges and universities should offer rich education and all good amenities to the students and nourish them in every possible manner to develop professionalism. Though there are many other ways to improve quality in Technical education.

—The author is a freelance Journalist, having a Diploma in Journalism & Mass Communication from MANUU Hyderabad, and is presently Pursuing Electrical Engineering at IUST, Awantipora. He can be reached at: peerzadakhalid1545@gmail.com