IITs: Teachers’ Shortage and Technologies

If I consider the written reply of the HRD minister of state in Lok Sabha on April 21, 2010 as correct, despite an attractive pay structure, good accommodation and other perks, IITs are facing acute shortage of faculty members.

IIT Kharagpur has a maximum vacancy of 299 posts, followed by 222 in IIT Bombay, 194 in IIT Roorkee, 138 in IIT Madras, 78 in IIT Delhi, 69 in IIT Kanpur and 65 in IIT Guwahati. The vacancies have increased from 877 in the seven old IITs in 2008-09 to 1,065 in 2009-10. The vacancies in these institutions in 2007-08 were 971.

How should the country take the news of the shortages of teachers at all levels? Should we shed tears and keep on blaming the government for all these problems? Why can’t the IITs overcome or reduce the effects of the shortages through technologies? Why should not Kapil Sibal who wishes to bring in technologies to even in primary school, ensure at least IITs to use the technologies to the best with its mastery of the task?

As John Chambers, chairman and CEO of CISCO suggested in recent India Today Conclave in New Delhi, let IITs get a different category of teaching assistants to manage the class with videos, where as the best teachers are engaged to prepare the videos for each subject. The task of course preparation may even be outsourced to the best teachers or the universities in the country or abroad. As reported, CISCO has already done it for Duke University and it can exhibit the technology used in its Bangaluru complex.

For number of years Anand had been discussing with me about the use of technologies in teaching. MIT and IIT courses are already available for many subjects in videos with best of teachers delivering the same.

However, the mindset of the directors and deans of the institutes must change for the video teaching. I was talking to a former director of one of the CSIR research institutes, who has a doctorate in his kitty and experience of both private as well as government sector. He has joined a private university in Greater Noida and perhaps in charge to set up its mechanical engineering department. I got into the subject as his wife started talking about his working excessively for long hours at that old age for preparing for the classes. When I asked why can’t he promote and use the technology in teaching, that is, available video materials. He got annoyed, ‘How can teaching be done by videos? If it’s so, everyone can do that.’

As I remember IITs have done a lot of work in this regards. A conference discussed Education 2020: Role of IITs’ in Improving Quality and Reach.:

As I know, former president Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam intiated a project of connecting India with all 53 countries of the African Union with a satellite and fibre optic network for sharing India’s expertise in education and health care. And it got commissioned too.The Project aims at providing tele-education services to 10,000 African students to undertake Post-Graduate, Under-Graduate, PG Diploma and Diploma and skill enabling certification courses in subjects such as Business Administration, IT, International Business, Tourism and Finance. Amity University, Noida; University of Madras, Chennai; Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi; Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani; University of Delhi; IIT Kanpur and Indian Institute of Science (IISc.) Benguluru participated in the project. Why can’t the same technology be used to overcome the shortage of teachers in IITs or for that matter in all the institutes. It will mean optimum use of the available human resources available within the institute and ultimately in the country.

I wish some spokesman of IITs or HRD ministry reveals to the nation the status of the use of technology in IITs that can also generate revenues for IITs if commercially done with many private institutes using the facilities. The same time zone in the country can also ease the task.

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