Intro: The system needs to be prepared with a series of refresher courses for teachers and other staff members. A mindless opposition and demonising the terms such as CBCS without offering a better alternative, will not lead us to any brighter future.
It all started with the populist decision of the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government in favour of Other Backward Class (OBC) expansion in Delhi University. In no time the intake capacity of the colleges were doubled. Democracy and votes reigned supreme. Nobody thought of the already overstretched facilities of the institutes that were almost reaching different stages of breakdown. No proper study was ever conducted for its feasibility, nobody bothered to discuss the desirability of such an explosive-expansion. Students could not complain as it promised increased seats in the college for them and increased workload with a promise to sanction almost half of the teaching strength in addition to the existing—even made teachers happy. Nobody raised the question of inadequate and overstretched infrastructure, no one complained against the hurry that was shown in its implementation. The university system was allowed to shatter. The system that was running as a private enterprise distributing appointments to the candidates based on their political affiliation (despite their academic credentials), went gaga over the prospect of appointing so many teachers. Infrastructural requirements were put on backburners and we collectively went ahead. In the process, many institutions realised that it was impossible to double their infrastructural capacities without violating municipal norms. Overcrowded classrooms, scarcity of equipments in labs, unmanageable number of students asking for library and other facilities, fewer percentages of academics-oriented students – and the system shattered.
The study of space sciences or aerospace engineering deals with space travel and space exploration, including space medicine. Astronomers are the people often related to this sector, which has a wider scope in different related areas. Some of these are aerospace, avionics and physical sciences.
As the dust settled, the “financiers” realised their blunder as it was never advisable for a developing India to commit an investment of this magnitude on pure academics in one go. When the country was starving from an acute dearth of skill-trained professionals, when India needed to put her money in training students to prepare them for technological development of the country, we had committed to produce academics on an unwanted scale. There is a near-complete absence of government efforts in the area of skill and vocational training. That the government kept ignoring this area eventually helped private players to have a free ride into this field. This sector was left to get developed as a low-paying, sub-standard and avoidable option among the aspiring students and the parents. These jobs were looked down upon and the whole nation kept on running after the high-end professional and administrative jobs first and wanted to settle for academic jobs as their second option but never aspired for other skill-based jobs. Skill based jobs are still considered as second and third grade jobs.
Institutes offering Courses in Aerospace
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, a deemed university, offers three B Tech programmes to produce professionals in these areas. They are B Tech in Aerospace Engineering, B Tech in Avionics and B Tech in Physical Sciences.
B Tech in Aerospace Engineering
B Tech in Avionics
B Tech in Physical Sciences
To put the desirable focus on skill-learning, and after having realized that there is no such scope left to develop this all important alternate education sector on a scale that is now required, the government had no option but to introduce the elements of skill-training and vocational training into the teaching meant for academics only. And the tussle started. The government went overboard. In the form of FYUP, the teaching component required for academics was almost sacrificed to give a complete thrust on skill-training. What was implemented in haste was a scheme that did not have even a proper skill-training or a vocational training component. The soft skills at the cost of pure academics were destined to lead the students nowhere. And the result was disastrous to say the least.
The Way Ahead
The solution lies in providing high-quality skill-learning as only one of the options along with academics-oriented options to the undergraduate students. Some soft skills can anyway be integrated in the methodology that teachers may adopt even while teaching subjects related to academics. Laptops-aided learning, internet-exposure, desktop-handling and other carefully chosen technological gadgets can provide them some skills even while learning papers related to pure academics. But, this would require not only a resolve but also some reasonable duration for a meaningful implementation. The system needs to be prepared with a series of refresher courses for teachers and other staff members. A mindless opposition and demonising the terms such as CBCS without offering a better alternative, will not lead us to any brighter future.
(The writer is an Associate Preofessor, Physics Department, Kirori Mal College, University of Delhi)