Nature India | Indigenus

Post-school science

The premier science academies of the country — Indian National Science Academy, the Indian Academy of Sciences and The National Academy of Science, India — had a brainstorming meeting earlier this month. Following extensive deliberations, the trio has prepared a position paper on the post-school science education in the country. The need for reforms in learning sciences at the post-school level has been duly emphasised in the paper.

The academies have mooted an integrative and broad-based training — the four-year B. S. degree — at select centres. The programme would enable graduates to directly enter the professional job market, or to pursue a doctoral degree (Ph. D.) research programme.

If everything goes well, the +2 qualified student could chose from the following options in science and technology next year on:

1. A 4-year B. S. followed by Ph. D. in basic sciences, with a provision for early exit with M.Sc degree or dual degrees after completion.

2. 4-year B. Tech. followed by Ph. D in basic sciences.

3. 4-year B. S. followed by M. tech/Ph.D. in professional (technology) field.

4. 3-year B. Sc. followed by 2-year M. Sc. and then Ph. D or 3-year B. Sc followed by integrated M.Sc.-Ph. D.

5. 3-year B. Sc. followed by 2-year B. Tech.

6. 5-year integrated M. Sc. followed by Ph. D.

7. Vocational courses.

Looks like science education in this country will finally get the long due overhauling it deserves.

Comments

  1. Report this comment

    Rita said:

    No doubt a lot of options but slightly confusing as to what is the difference between path-3 & path-5, path-1 & path-4b & path-6 in terms of motivation and goals especially if all the different streams are not offered at the same place.

  2. Report this comment

    Shoba Anantha said:

    The education landscape as laid out is quite confusing. Why mess with a 3-year B.Sc and a 4-year B.Sc. How does one distinguish between 4 Vs 3 year programs? Why not just make all Bachelor programs 4 years?

    Subhra mentions that the 4-year B.Sc programs enable students to enter work force directly. What about students who opt for the 3-year B.Sc? Are we indirectly forcing them to go in for MSc or PhD?

    The objective of any undergraduate training program should be to equip students with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to be competent and entrepreneurial in the field they chose to be in. Most of our science programs at undergraduate levels do not do any research based or hands-on learning. This is a gaping hole in the system. Students come out with excellent theoretical knowledge with zero practical experience. This clearly under prepares them to enter the industry. It also prevents them from making a clear decision between higher learning and job.

    A major overhaul on “how” science is taught at school and college is most crucial! Increasing the number of options with no change in the way of instruction is useless. We will only be creating a nation of smart young people who are clueless on how to be entrepreneurs.

  3. Report this comment

    Jay Chatterjee said:

    Is there anyone who really believes that a donkey will become a horse if s/he carries on doing the same thing for few more years and/or under a differently named scheme?

    It’s not the duration of the course or name that matters. It’s the quality of education, coaching procedure and long term goal (from the macro level). Almost all Indian institutes are teaching institutes, including the high profile ones. And only teaching cannot sustain the quality of an educational/research institute or university for long. All the famous universities and institutes in the world are known mainly for their original research, not teaching (but to get great quality of research you should have a good, well planned teaching program).

    Even faculties in high profile Indian institutes like IITs and (new) IIScs are evaluated for their teaching, not for original research. The main problem is our current education system systemically discards talented students and promotes coaching, private-tuition and mugging up from primary school to university. We all know how the quality of research is degrading in India. And that will not be affected much by changing the duration or name of any course.

  4. Report this comment

    LS said:

    The proposed new scheme for college education in science could be good. But the problem is not really the number of years that a student spends in college. The problem is how science is taught and what the goal of the Universities is. I teach in a college and when we go to correct examination papers, we are told to pass as many students as possible. Secondly, the syllabus can be anything, but the questions in the examinations should make students study the subject analytically. Now, whether they study microbiology or chemistry, all they do is memorise answers from “guides” and get good marks. Whether they do this for 3 years or 4 years makes no difference.

  5. Report this comment

    Jay said:

    I just read a nice article by a Harvard University Physics professor on “education”. It’s a very interesting one considering traditional ways of teaching in urban India (mainly in affluent schools) and its difference with rural India where availability of text books and other teaching hardware is poor.

    One might wonder why successful Indian scientists (in basic science and research) are mainly coming from rural background (while people in technology and business are from urban background). It also can give us an idea how to reform our teaching, both in school and university levels. Changing the duration and name of the course will not do much good.

    I quote the article here:

    “In hindsight, the reason for my students’ poor performance is simple. The traditional approach to teaching reduces education to a transfer of information. Before the industrial revolution, when books were not yet mass commodities, the lecture method was the only way to transfer information from one generation to the next. However, education is so much more than just information transfer, especially in science.

    New information needs to be connected to preexisting knowledge in the student’s mind. Students need to develop models to see how science works. Instead, my students were relying on rote memorization. Reflecting on my own education, I believe that I also often relied on rote memorization.”

    EDUCATION: Farewell, Lecture?

    Eric Mazur

    A physics professor describes his evolution from lecturing to dynamically engaging students during class and improving how they learn.

    SCIENCE 323, 50-51 (2009)

  6. Report this comment

    ratnesh said:

    The best way is to improve the educational system. Besides theoretical knowledge, emphasis must be given on the experimental aspect. This is the best way to create interest amongst youngsters. We studied Physics but not a single teacher in school or professor in IIT told us its use or particular application. Now, I am using all those theories in our applied field abroad, unfortunately not in India. There are very few industries working in my field — material science and technology. I think we can make India a global hub of knowledge but not until we focus on applications. The government should understand the value of quality not quantity. Hoping that one day the Indian government will invest money in science including research, salary of PhD students, Post docs and Professors, which will attract the best talent towards research.