Our higher education system needs to provide adequate opportunities for the professional, personality and career development of teachers since they are central to the whole system. We need to develop inbuilt mechanisms for their continuing education in order to provide adequate opportunities to them within the framework of knowledge society. Conventionally college or university teachers learn their art of teaching by emulating outstanding role models such as their own teachers or senior colleagues. However, today, it is no longer possible to expect newly appointed teachers to acquire the art of teaching by emulating their peers. Furthermore, there has been a knowledge explosion in every discipline. College and university teachers have to continuously update their knowledge in their own areas of expertise, or simply run the risk of becoming totally outdated in a very short span of time. While the really motivated and zealous teachers use their own resources to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge and to train themselves in the latest processes, methodologies and techniques of teaching, it is necessary to provide systematic and well-organized orientation programmes for the large number of new entrants in teaching at the college and university level. This assumes greater importance in light of the fact that unlike doctors, IAS and IPS officers no internship or probationary training is imparted to teachers before sending them into the actual profession of teaching. While most of them know their own subject very well, some of them find themselves at loggerheads when it comes to teaching in a classroom.
In the backdrop of these facts, 66 Human Resource Development Centres, formerly known as Academic Staff Colleges have been established in 26 states across India by the University Grants Commission with a view to organize specially designed orientation programmes and refresher courses in pedagogy, educational psychology and philosophy, information technology and socio-economic and political concerns for all new entrants at the level of lecturers, covering every teacher at least once in three to five years and to encourage teachers to participate in seminars, symposia, workshops, etc. In the present day context, teachers have to play an enabling role in the development of the student that not only involves imparting new knowledge and skills, but also counseling, developing critical and innovative thinking, research, consultancy and extension work, preparing instructional materials with the aid of educational and information technologies. The quality of education is primarily determined by the competencies, skills, abilities and motivation of teachers. It is therefore, necessary to periodically update their skills, knowledge and efficiency. In this context, human resource development and training play a very crucial role.
Main aim of the UGC-Human Resource Development Centre, University of Kashmir is to design, organize, conduct, monitor and evaluate General Orientation and Refresher Courses for college and university teachers, interaction programmes for doctoral and post-doctoral scholars, short-term courses for senior administrators, heads of departments, principals, deans and functionaries, teaching programmes for non-teaching staffbesides seminars, symposia, workshops for all these categoriesin accordance with UGC guidelines. It was in fulfillment of this very function that the UGC-HRDC, UOK organized 73rd General Orientation Course for newly appointed college and university teachers from December 6th, 2016 to January 4th, 2017, which was attended by a total of 30 faculty members from different colleges and universities of J&K in the sereneNaseembagh campus of the University of Kashmir where the tranquil winter ambience and soothing shade of blazing chinarsprovided a perfect atmosphere for brainstorming, intellectual discourse and exchange of ideas.
This course was like a bouquet of flowers that had flowers of different hues, colours and fragrances. Under the dynamic leadership and overall supervision of Director, HRDC, Prof. Mohi-ud-din Sangmi a host of Resource Persons from diverse streams of Education, Economics, Computer Sciences, Information Technology, History, Central Asian Studies, Psychology, Earth Sciences, Home Science, Women's Studies, Physics, Media Education, Law, English Literature, Electronics and Communication Technology, Commerce, Business and Management Studies, Islamic Studies and Environmental Studies were invited to interact with the participants of the course. As per the feedback received from participants of this course most of the invited resource persons were highly resourceful, eloquent and articulate in putting across their viewpoints even though it needs to be mentioned that a few Resource Persons did not receive a very encouraging feedback from the participants. However presentations and deliberations made by most of the invited resource persons were rich in content wherein they not only shared their knowledge but also their wisdom, and their lifetime experiences giving real life examples of the efforts they had put in their own areas of expertise and the bottlenecks they had faced. This gave the participants an insight on how to overcome such difficulties while in pursuit of their goals and missions and that is surely going to stand them in a good stead in the times to come.
Major thrust during the General Orientation Course was laid upon basic modalities of teaching and learning process besides imparting induction type training so that the participants are familiarized with basic functioning of Examining Wing, IT&SS dept, DIQA etc. In pursuit of these very goals, apart from regular teaching sessions a day-long workshop on choice-based credit system was conducted by Dr. S. M. Shafi of the Dept. of Commerce wherein participants were made to design new curricula in accordance with CBCS and another day-long workshop on e-content development was conducted at EMMRC, University of Kashmir wherein participants were given hands-on training on e-content development. Two full days were devoted to sessions on higher education, teaching skills, micro-teaching, effectiveness and philosophy of education and two full days were devoted to information technology, e-governance, e-learning and e-resources. All these workshops were a unique learning experience that infused new skills among the participants and apprised them about the application and use of such modalities in higher education system. Participants also had a few sessions on service rules, income tax and leave rules governing teaching faculty in higher education. They also wrote book reviews, made presentations of their own works and areas of expertise, appeared in a written test at the end of the course and conducted day to day sessions in an amiable manner. Feedback about each and every resource person, feedback about the whole course as well as reports of day-to-day proceedings were obtained from the participants of both the courses on daily basis. Most of the course material pertaining to the course has been made available on HRDC website for the benefit of the participants.
Valedictory function of the course was held on January 4th, 2017 that was presided over by the Hon'ble Vice-Chancellor, University of Kashmir, Prof. Khurshid Iqbal Andrabi and also attended by Dean, College Development Council, Prof. Nilofer Khan. Vice-Chancellor in his presidential address emphasized upon the need to change and transform teachers as well as teaching pedagogies in accordance with changing paradigms of higher education so that they can keep pace with fast changing times and trends. He urged upon teachers to be proud of being a teacher and carry forward the legacy of being a teacher. He also called for a few sessions on teaching and educational ethics in every such course.
(Author is Coordinator at the UGC-HRDC, University of Kashmir)