There is an urgent need to focus on shortage of teaching faculty in higher learning, which can be done by attracting top rank holders in universities and institutions of higher education
We are on the threshold of a new era in the history of human civilisation. An era dominated and often driven by knowledge. Access to knowledge and an ability to use it for one’s own advantage have become more important than access to natural resources and capital. The emerging knowledge economy depends critically on the ready availability of adequate human resource with the right knowledge and intellectual skills.
India with a billion plus population and a varied demography has an excellent window of opportunity in this new economy. However, our educational system needs to be substantially upgraded to impart globally competitive training if we have to make use of this opportunity. India has seen major investments and promises of new investments in higher education in the recent times both by the government and by the private sector. The biggest challenge for India is however, the non-availability of competent faculty to teach in these institutions. This challenge defies simple and quick-fix solutions since, it takes several years of hard training to groom a competent teacher in any branch of higher learning. It is a well known fact that a career in teaching begins late with the average age of person being close to 30.
The increasing number of career options, attractive salaries in some other streams of employment that are high in demand, globalisation of the market place for trained people, all dissuade potential students to take up teaching careers. The salary scales and the career options in a teaching position offer little to offset the disadvantages of late entry. Consequently, the best of students today have little motivation to take up higher education and research leading to teaching as a career. This will only lead to further shortages of good quality teachers in the coming years. Any corrective measure will require several years to show results. Clearly, there is an urgent need to attract the best students to teaching careers with reasonable opportunities and a nurturing career option. While it would be difficult to match corporate compensation packages, the teaching profession at the highest level has always had an aura to attract committed students and it is this attraction that one should make use of while removing some of the well known disincentives.
A good measure could be targeting the top rank holders in universities and other institutions of higher learning such as the IIT’s, IISER’s, IIM’s etc. having a first class masters degree in basic sciences, social sciences and humanities, first class bachelors degree in engineering, medical sciences and other equivalent degrees. Within one month after declaration of results, by a process of interviews or personal discussions, admit about 200 candidates (crème dela crème) as Junior Faculty Interns for a period of two years and depute them to pursue M.Phil. or M.Tech. in selected Institutions of Higher learning. During this period, they are attached to a guide/mentor and 20 percent of their time is to be devoted to teaching assignments (tutorials, lectures, assignments, student guidance, etc.). The Junior Faculty Interns are to be paid a stipend equivalent to the total emoluments of a lecturer in a central university. On successful completion of Stage I as a Junior Faculty Intern for two years, and after an evaluation of the candidates for a teaching career, they should be admitted for Ph.D. in selected Institutions as a Senior Faculty Intern. Again, working under a guide or mentor, they will devote nearly 20 percent of their time in teaching-related activities. A Senior Faculty Intern would be entitled to a stipend equivalent to the total emoluments of a senior lecturer in a central university. On successful completion of Stage II as a Senior Faculty Intern and after an Evaluation of the candidates for a teaching career, they should be deputed to leading Institutions in India and abroad for two years for Post-Doctoral studies. On successful completion of Stage III and after an evaluation of the candidates for a teaching career, they should be offered Assistant Professor positions in any of our Institutions of higher learning. In addition, the candidates should also be provided a start-up research grant. A limited horizontal induction at Stages II – IV may be resorted to in the beginning. The scheme will thus build a pipeline to supply quality faculty to our Institutions of higher learning in all branches of knowledge at a very affordable cost without any major new investments in infrastructure. The present strategy of poaching teachers from elsewhere is unlikely to take us far.\\