Monday, February 26, 2018

India need additional 17lac qualified teachers in Higher Education: Depth Analysis

As per AISHE 2015-16, Student to faculty ratio in Colleges & Universities of India is 21 only considering regular mode students. MHRD is trying hard to improve this ratio for Higher Education and by recruiting qualified teachers(i.e. Assistant Professors). But after detecting 1.3lac ghost teacher through Aadhar linking, this ratio has worsened further. Let's have a quick analysis on how many qualified teachers are required and how many we have!!
MHRD has set a very tough target of 1:10 for universities & colleges. If our country wants to achieve it let's say today we shall need additional 16.7lacs assistant professors.  
Some of you might say it is the very tough target to achieve. Let's look at following chart which tells that you need 6.9 lac additional teacher as on today to achieve the ratio of 1:15 even!
 Let's analyze the possible scenario 10 years later i.e. in 2028. Student enrollment will increase by 20%(approx) in ten years and 30%(approx) of currents teachers will be retired by 2028. Considering this, we shall require appointing of  additional 26.39lacs teachers by 2028 in our colleges & universities to get 1:10. 


India will require additional 14.53lacs teacher in order to reach around 1:15 even.
Is it within reach? Do we have qualified teachers to appoint?
Not as of now, not even to fill little fraction of them! Eligibility to become teachers is  NET after postgraduation with PhD degree(Not mandatory but desirable as per newly drafted UGC guidelines). Let's say we can manage 50% of teachers without a PhD degree, even then we will require 8.35lac PhD degree holder as of now to achieve 1:10 and similar no of postgraduate with NET! but we don't have either of them! Only 25K PhD degree(approx) are being awarded every year. We require additional 13.195 lac PhD degree holder by 2028 to have 50% teachers (1:10) with  PhD. With current rate, we shall be having only 2.5 lac! 
To have these 10.7 lac additional (4.7 lac in case of 1:15) PhD holder, we need huge investment(at least triple of current % of GDP for Higher Education) by Govt. in research sector both infrastructure wise and human resources as well!  It is a tough task and will require hard political "will" but I am hopeful! To appoint such huge no of faculty even spread over a decade or two decades, we will also require some sort of central body to monitor the whole recruitment process! India also need to attract huge no of  international student to do PhD here by offereing better facility and fellowship and similar goes for faculty positions as well.
I hope, Governments of India(Central, state even Private sector) will seriously look for practical solutions(above politics) to achive their dream because "Padhega India, Tabhi to Badhega India". If one do similar analysis for school education, the situation will be worse!!!
Spread the word and comments your views on way of solving this problem! 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

In Depth : Prime Minister Research Fellowship

History
Yes, PMRF has a history that too for one year! IIT council approved PMRF with 60k per month for IIT B.Tech graduate with 8.5 CGPA or higher in its 50th meeting held on 23rd August 2016. Govt. of India allotted separate budget for this scheme to IITs  in union budget 2017. After that various IIT published the advertisement for admission under PMRF for the academic year 2017-18[example IIT Indore ]. IIT council in its 51st meeting minuted "The Council noted the progress and also ratified the increase in the fellowship amount from Rs. 60,000/-to Rs. 75,000/-under the PMRF Scheme, subject to the approval of the same by the Cabinet."

Revision 
After 51st Meeting of IIT council, MHRD revised the PMRF scheme in its current form which is being advertised as it is being launched first time even by Honorable HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar! So launched year is 2018 2017!

Current Form of PMRF:
Summary can be found in following picture and full details(also online application) at https://pmrf.in
  
Discrimination
 Yes! Approx 30K~32K students enroll for PhD in each academic year in India across all disciplines and they get fellowship up to ₹28,000 per month(except SPM fellow which can be counted on fingers). In this PMRF  1,000(maximum) PhD students (graduated from IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIITs  with 8CGPA or higher only!) will get ₹70,000- ₹80,000 per month and all other PhD students will remain at 28K in the name of vision of PMRF which is  given below
"The Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme is aimed at attracting the talent pool of the country to doctoral (Ph.D.) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities." 
Even at IITs and IISc, approx 5K students take admission in PhD every year, but not all these 5K students will get PMRF! 
 And IISERs are once again being treated as "Ignored Institute of Science Education and Research" by MHRD as they are not chosen as host institute despite performing better in research areas in compare to many IITs (earlier PhD tuition fee 5000 per year@IITs & 33,000 per year@IISERs).

Competitiveness
Very much!! If you look at eligibility criteria, you can find that there will be approx  30K students graduating every year with eligible degrees from eligible institutes. If you consider average 30% students score 8CGPA or above,  you will have 9K eligible students graduated in one year and this scheme allows last five year graduated students to apply! This takes the total numbers of eligible students for this scheme to 45K!!! But considering the fact older graduate will not take much interest to start PhD at this stage, let's take average 20K students will be eligible(rather keen) to apply each year and only maximum 1000 will be finally selected! So the rate of success is about 5% even after very tough eligibility criteria to apply!

Higher than Faculty salary?
No! Entry salary of assistant professors at CFTIs like IITs/IISERs/NITs etc is ₹1,25,623 per month[Source IISER Pune] as on 1st Jan 2018 (without considering the recommendation of 7th CPC for allowances). As per 7th CPC, entry salary of assistant professors will be approx  ₹90K [57,700+5%DA+HRA&TA in metro cities] in universities/colleges under UGC.

Fate 
As of now, this scheme is only approved for three academic years for new admissions. Only time will tell that PMRF will succeed to change "Brain Drain" to "Brain Gain" or Not? Will other PhD students(about 1lac in all years across India) get any fellowship hike which was verbally promised during last hike (2014) to review it after every 3-4 years?    

(All numbers shown in this article about numbers of students are approximate based on various data available on the internet and doesn't guarantee any accuracy.) 
 
 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

EK PEHAL: Quality time to earn Quality smiles on children’s faces at IISER Kolkata


EK PEHAL is a journey which began on 7th January 2015 in a aanganbadi school outside Gate No. 7 of IISER Kolkata with dedicated founding volunteers - Preethi Thomas, Abhinash Kumar, Sai Madhav, Shubham Chaudhary, Rohit Bhagwat, Prithvi Raj and Jayshree Deheria. I was alloted the job of registration of children from nearby villages to our campus (mostly belonging to underprivileged families) and then teaching them mathematics on the very same day. Within one month, EK PEHAL shifted to air-conditioned classrooms in Lecture Hall Complex of the institute, thanks to the immense support of IISER Kolkata administration especially former director Prof. R. N. Mukherjee.  In the beginning EK PEHAL started with children of class IX -XII only, later with increasing no of IISER Kolkata student volunteers, class V-VIII students were also accommodated in this initiative. At present, children visit our campus daily during evening hours as per their schedule which vary on the basis of standard and medium(Hindi/Bengali).
Our main focus is to improve the fundamental basic of Mathematics and Science of children through interactive and demonstrative sessions along with communicative English classes, extra- curricular activities to boost children's confidence.

By understanding about various shortcomings in an individual child as well teaching volunteers, EK PEHAL team decided to go for aptitude test for children in mathematics at admission time to find suitable topics to be taught to them as per their actual potential and assign them appropriate teaching volunteers. I proactively chose the responsibility for this aptitude test (designing, conducting and evaluation). This test had five sections A, B, C, D and E with questions of the level of 1st to 5th Standard, 6th-7th standard, 7th-8th standard, 8th-9th standard and 10th standard of Indian schooling system, respectively. All children were given questions beginning from section A up to their assigned standard in school. After evaluation, almost all students were found to be lacking and were not up to the mark for their then assigned standard in school. We were not surprised at the results as we understood that almost all of the students studied in nearby government schools which failed to provide quality education in terms of clarifying basic concepts. Consequently, our team of volunteers were at first, assigned to teach Basic, Intermediate and Advanced level mathematics depending on at what level a particular student was unable to attempt the questions. As mentioned earlier we had already identified each student’s potential from the aptitude test to children. Currently this has become the standard practice for all children who get enrolled in EK PEHAL for mathematics class and a similar format is being followed for teaching English as well.

Since then my evening hours are mostly spent with EK PEHAL children and it gives tremendous pleasure to me being with them-teaching them, answering their questions and ultimately seeing quality smiles on their faces!



So far I have tried to teach basic and intermediate mathematics class and regular Physics and Mathematics classes to IX-XI standards. It gives me immense joy to see the "Quality smiles" on their faces when they understand any topic which they initially considered difficult due to low confidence. Over the last few months I got very close to a group of students (I had taught them Physics & Mathematics in their IX-X) and so I took them for a dinner treat in a restaurant in Kalyani when my first research paper got published.



I request all the readers of this blog to help EK PEHAL team with their time (volunteer for EK PEHAL if you are a student at IISER Kolkata) or donate books and resources and even feel free to give suggestions. You may know more about EK PEHAL at  https://sites.google.com/site/ekpehal2015/ or facebook page.



Thursday, July 13, 2017

Is IISER being treated as "Ignored Institute of Science Education and Research" by MHRD?

Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India established Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Kolkata and Pune in the year 2006 to promote the quality Basic Science by integrating teaching with state of art research facility. MHRD has established five more IISERs as of now located at Mohali(2007), Bhopal & Thiruvananthapuram (2008), Tirupati(2015) and Berhampur (2016). 
 In very short time, IISERs have made the significant impact within India and abroad as well. Graduating students both BS-MS and Ph.D. are getting Ph.D./Post-Doctroal opportunities in best institutions of the world. In recently announced NIRF(National Institutional ranking Framework) 2017 by MHRD, four IISERs (Pune-29, Kolkata-44, Mohali-52, Bhopal-98) have secured the place in top 100 Institutes of India in overall category(considering all branches of study in India). 

Two meetings 1)IISER Standing Committee on 23rd June 2016 chaired by previous HRD Minister Smt. Smriti Irani, 2) NITSER Council meeting on 26th May 2017 chaired by current HRD Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar, have changed the whole perspective of Indian govt. towards IISERs which resulted in massive 150-275% fee hike for BS-MS to Ph.D. students. This illogical hike which can put a break on the progress of quality basic science and outreach of science as well, have brought huge disappointment in IISERs students.


Image source: From twitter #SaveIISER expressed by IISER Students.

As per Students Affairs Council of IISER Kolkata, Students represntatives from various IISERs have written to MHRD to review this fee hike on 12th June 2017 but they are still waiting to get any response from MHRD.


With this fee hike, IISERs have become the most costly institute for pursuing PhD in India in terms of tuition fee as per post of Students Affairs Council of IISER Kolkata .
IISER which was established to promote research in Basic Sciences in India, has been made most costly Institute for Ph.D. by MHRD! Now one has to pay ₹30,000-₹40,000 as tuition fee per annum in addition of 25000-30000(except mess charges of 35,000-45,000) per year as fees for other facilities like library, hostel, exam etc to pursue Ph.D. at IISERs.
It will not be wrong if one generalize that most of the students who pursue Ph.D. in India belong to middle or lower middle-class family. Even for many students, Ph.D. fellowship is the only source of income in their family. This fee hike of 200-275% for Ph.D. students has clearly closed the doors of IISERs for many talented students of India. 
"Outreach will remain out of reach until you genuinely want to do outreach!"
 More unfortunate things, MHRD has not given any consideration to give any response/explanation behind such illogical and unscientific fee hike to IISERs community yet. It is well known that IISERs have already seen fund cuts by MHRD in last few years in addition to indirect fund cut by such massive fee hike. As per informal sources, MHRD has further threatened IISERs to cut more funds if they do not implement this hike.
Therefore, IISERs are being treated as "Ignored Institute of Science Education and Research" by MHRD, Govt. of India.