Dr. Subhas Mohapatra's feedback

From my vantage point through my association with North Carolina’s Higher education for more than 30 years, Orissa’s higher education should consist of three components: I) Instruction/class room activities, II) Extension/socio-economic activities and III) Administration, not necessarily in the order listed. Each component should have one or more sub-components which I am not addressing now but will be happy to do so if asked at a later time. Even here, my inputs are brief and to the point without much elaboration. 

I. INSTRUCTION/CLASS ROOM ACTIVITIES:

A. UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION: Courses should be numbered 100-400 to constitute the core courses and must be taught under rigidly structured programs that will require third party evaluation of both teachers and students. These evaluations will be both written and oral/interview type. If the majority of the students do not meet expected levels of competence, the teachers should be held accountable in the form of demotion, suspension, salary cut and if necessary dismissal. These steps will be taken only after the teachers are given written and oral tests to defend their method of teaching. The teacher will be allowed to use as many reference books as he/she wishes but must follow one or more university/board approved text books as the main source of education. These books will be same regardless of which university it is or which college is affiliated to it.

  • I consider any education beyond high school is higher education.
  • This may be one year or two year diploma courses or college transfer courses, which I call preparatory education, three or four year professional, technical or liberal arts courses, and graduate courses (these are called post-graduate education in Odisha).
  • All courses should be numbered from 100 to 12000 on the basis of when the courses are taken and progressive degree of difficulties.
    • 100: Should be taken in the first year following high school and may or may not be continuation of the high school knowledge level.
    • 200: Should be taken in the 2nd year. No one should be allowed to take these courses without taking the corresponding 100 level courses.
    • 300: Should be taken during the third year. Corresponding 100 and 200 courses will be made prerequisites for taking these courses.
    • 400: Should be taken during the final year of Baccalaureate education (we call this under graduate education in USA but these are called graduate courses in Odisha).
 

B. GRADUATE EDUCATION (THIS IS CALLED POST-GRADUATE IN ODISHA).

  • All graduate students should be required to take a major and a minor or a double major without any minor.
  • All graduate students should be required to submit a thesis resulting from original research. That student should be awarded the degree only after his paper is published in an international journal. The research and courses for every graduate student should be supervised by an advisory board consisting of three members including a chairperson for a Master’s degree and an advisory board consisting of at least five members including the chairman for the Ph.D. degree. Out of these five, at least two should represent the minor subject and three the major subject. The research guide must be one of the members of the advisory board but need not be the chair of the board.
  • There will be no university mandated course or text books at the graduate level. Instead, the teacher will be given full freedom to develop his course content/syllabus. At the same time, he will be required to submit this syllabus for approval to an evaluation board consisting of the head of each academic department. The course will be accepted by the university only after the majority of the evaluation board vote for approval. If the board rejects the syllabus as submitted, it must help the teacher develop an acceptable syllabus.
  • All graduate courses should be above 400 numbers with some exceptions. For example, if a Botany Major takes a physics course because he wants to do research work in Biophysics, he may have to start with Physics 100 if he has no prior physics background. Under these circumstances, when he reaches a 400 course, it may be counted as a graduate course at the discretion of the chair of the advisory committee
    • 500: These courses should be taken in the first year of the Graduate Program (i.e. 5th year of higher education)
    • 600: These courses should be taken in the 2nd year of the Graduate program
    • 700: These courses should be taken in the third year of the Graduate program (i.e., the first year of the Ph.D. program).
    • 800: These courses should be taken in the second year of the Ph.D. Program
    • 900: These courses should be taken in the final year of the Ph.D. Program
    • 1000, 1100 and 1200 courses should be reserved for the highest standard of higher education. They should be primarily applicable to teachers, post doctorates and visiting professors coming to any university to engage in a prolonged academic activity, i.e. excluding those who come to give seminars. These courses should be used to evaluate the standard of the outside scholars coming into a given university as an employee or deputed by another university or country for training. Each department, through the participation of its faculty, will develop its own evaluation methods and to assure that the incoming academic/research employee has the same minimum standards expected of the employees already working at the university, the department will have the right to send the new employee at any level of course that the department deems necessary.
 

II. SOCIO-ECONOMIC/EXTENSION ACTIVITY:

  • Every university will be charged with improving the local economy of the community/region where it is located. When a new head for the university is recruited he/she will be expected to provide active leadership in this regard. His/her evaluation for reappointment or continuation will consider this leadership as the most important criterion.
  • Every student receiving a diploma or degree from the university must demonstrate that he has a complete grasp of the economic problems of the region where the university/institution is located. Each student must be sent to the field to work on an assigned economic problem through which he will gain this knowledge. Graduate students will demonstrate the ability to solve one or more of these problems before they receive the degree.
  • In each Agricultural University each Graduate Faculty (i.e. a teacher who guides graduate students) must work directly in the field of one or more farmers and solve one or more problems faced by the said farmers.
  • The head of each university will be directly charged to supervise these activities and take corrective steps to remedy shortcomings.
  • The head of each university will be required to develop community-sensitive programs that will give assurance to the people in the community/region that the university exists as an institution for direct service to the people, not as an isolated “ivory tower”.
 

III. ADMINISTRATION:

  1. GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE COLLEGES:
    • All transfers must be stopped immediately
    • Teachers serving at any college will be required to retire at the same college. When a vacancy occurs due to retirement, death or resignation, the position will be advertised against that specific college. Thus, applicants will know before applying for that position that he/she will stay there the entire period of her/his professional career. As usual the PSC should play its role in selecting the most qualified candidate.
    • All common examinations should be abolished. Instead, class room teachers will develop their own questions at all times.
    • Just like there surprise squads are being used to reduce copying, similar squads should raid teachers’ quarters/residences/ or other suspected places to catch teachers who are conducting tuition outside the college premises.
 

B. UNIVERSITY EDUCATION:

  • The syndicate, chancellor and vice-chancellor positions will be abolished.
  • The head of each university will be called the Chancellor. The Chancellor will report to a governing body consisting of permanent and term members. The state governor, Chief Minister, Chief Justice, Minister of Education, chief secretary, principal secretaries of education, finance and law, the speaker of the house, and head of every other university, chief of the faculty association of a said university, chief of the non-faculty employee association and chief of the student association of the same university will constitute the permanent members. However, they will not be allowed to play the official role of their respective positions/departments. Instead, they will use their perspectives from these positions to cast their votes on different matters.
  • The term membership will be extended to distinguished citizens representing various walks of life such as news paper editors, radio and TV personalities, private citizens, and corporate executives, retired executives of various government departments, universities and distinguished people from other states. The terms of such members will not exceed five years and will be staggered in such a way that no more than one-third of term members will exit at one time. The term members will be appointed through the majority vote of the permanent members.
  • The Chief Justice will be the chairman of the Governing board/body and conduct all meetings.
  • The Chancellor of the university will have the sole authority to call regular governing board meetings as and when needed to seek direction/clarifications/guidance etc. to run the university.
  • For emergency meetings, the Chief justice will send out letters seeking the votes of the members of the governing board explaining the circumstances which warrants an emergency meeting. Such a meeting will be called only if the majority of the members vote for it. A physical gathering will not be required to seek such votes. An example of an emergency meeting is evaluation of the Chancellor’s conduct and ability to run the university. Chancellor of the board of governors of education heads of other universities, distinguished public citizens voted in by the majority of the above persons, student representative voted in by the student body, faculty representative by the faculty body, non faculty employee representative elected by the non-faculty employees and a legislative representative elected by the members of the state assembly.
  • Because many of the above members will serve in each of the state’s university, their main role will be to maintain consistency in higher education throughout the state.
  • The head of the university (now called vice-chancellor) will have the primary responsibility of raising funds from non-government sources such as the alumni.
  • Because fund raising from private sources will be a major role for the Chancellor, he/she will have fund raising for the university as the primary duty; he will appoint a second-in-command for day to day functioning of the university.
  • The Chancellor will make sure that his campus has an independent campus security force to maintain law and order within the campus. These forces will have the same police power as the state police.
  • The Chancellor position must not go to any current or retired employee of the university. In other words each VC must be brought from outside the university and must have demonstrated crisis, resource and people management skills without regard to his academic excellence, for the provost or Asst. VC will be required to promote and maintain the academic climate within the university.
  • The head of the university must create and maintain a healthy athletic/sports program to constructively channel the energy of the youth within the campus.
  • Utmost importance should be given to libraries, student government and campus news paper etc.
  • At present Odisha’s higher education is based on a single track system. For example a person studying history has no opportunity to ever become a doctor or engineer. In a multi-track system any person will have the freedom to change the track at any time as long as he is willing to spend the time and money associated with such changes. For example although I had Bo, Zo, Geology in my B.Sc. curriculum I did my Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry because I was willing to take needed chemistry and biochemistry courses starting from 200 ( because I had chemistry in I.Sc.). Such flexibility offers a person the zeal and hope to seek a new line without getting stuck in one track.
  • The government will allocate the entire fund as a “block grant” with full discretion given to the Chancellor to administer the fund. The government will however be the primary audit authority, and the auditing process should include every thing imaginable and not limited to just finance.
  • The Alumni of the university/college should be invited to play major roles in the institutions quality of education in all aspects.

Sincerely

Subhas C. Mohapatra, Ph. D.

Professor (Rtd.), Dept. of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, North Carolina State Univ,  Raleigh, NC, 27606. USA

President, Indo-American Friendship Foundation, 1413 Boxwood Lane, Apex, NC 27502, USA

President, Science & Technology Application Systems, Inc., 167 Bluegrass Drive, Warrenton, NC, 27589, USA.

President, Consolidated Orissa Rural Enterprise, Barakoli, Dist. Dhenkanal, Odisha, India

Chairman, Orissa Development Trust, Plot 628, Lane 10, Near Airport, Palaspali, Bhubaneswar, Orissa.


Update: More feedback from Dr. Mohapatra:

1. To make the system compatible with American System, which is gradually being adopted by other countries, the high school should be made 12 years by bringing the plus 2 from college to high school.
2. Under graduate education (called graduate education in Orissa) should be made four years by adding one year to the plus 3 college.
3. All higher educations must be imparted in English Medium except literature classes and no text book should contain information that is older than five years.
4. All district HQ high schools (formerly called Jilla Schools) must teach and test science and math in English Medium and must not be based on information older than 10 years.
 
The rationale for the above are very straightforward. However, if you need clarifications I will be happy to provide. There is a general resentment for English under the name of "Swaviman". Many claim that while other countries are teaching in their own language why should we adopt English. First, other countries do not have the same mastery on English as we have in India; thus they have no choice. Second, they have their own excellent journals in their language. India does not have a single high class journal in HIndi or in any state language that publishes high class original research, Third, those countries which are teaching in their own language are spending enormous amounts of money to learn English. Leading among them are Japan, Germany, Russia, France, Spain and Brazil. Finally, we do not have a single Odia text book that contains information of 2005 or later because it takes 10 to 15 years before scientific information is available in Odia.

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