Analysis of the present scenario in terms of “Access”, ” Quality “and “future readiness”

Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya Adarsha Mahavidyalaya (PDUAM) Dalgaon, a Govt. Model Degree College of Science, is located in Darrang, Assam. This place is already far behind in the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) as compared to the average GER of Assam. It is a rural agriculture-dependent area where individuals are normatively expected to add to the existing workforce from a young age. This reflects in the lack of awareness for higher education and more significantly for girls’ education. As a result, higher education takes a backseat in most cases, which can be identified as one of the factors putting a dent in the number of students enrolled in the college since its establishment. This also explains the low Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in the area.

Moreover, financial reasons pose significant challenges to students in continuing their studies. Although the tuition fee for college is nominal, many parents in the local community fail to appreciate the importance of higher education and rather prefer and encourage the youth to join the workforce to increase the income of the family.

Again, they fail to understand the importance of higher education in improving their standard of living. Consequently, they are caught up in a perpetual cycle of poverty, low standard of living, and lack of education.

Further, that the student enrollment ratio in the college is lower than the national average could be partially attributed to the cultural aspects of the communities it caters to. For instance, due to primarily cultural reasons, the girls are married off at a young age which in most cases prevents them from continuing their education. This explains the lower rate of female student enrollment in college.

Considering the above factors, the college currently has the below-stated mechanism in place to deal with the issues of access, quality, and future readiness.

Access: To provide access to higher education, the institution has an admission policy in place as per the Govt. rules and regulations. The admission fee is nominal, especially for students coming from families with less than INR 2 lacs annual income. And this fee waiver, provided by the Govt. of Assam, is availed by more than 90% of the enrolled students. Moreover, as per HHE
letter no. PC/HE/Plan-24/2012/116 dated 6th June 2017, the tuition fee, which is collected by other colleges from the students, has also been exempted for PDUA Mahavidyalaya. Furthermore, the current reservation rules are followed to make the institution inclusive. The
biggest challenge, however, is to attract students to science education as well as to increase the number of female students.

Further, coming from low-income backgrounds and with its associated social expectations, the
students are more concerned with supporting their families than focusing on their studies.  Other challenges include hindrances created by the medium of instruction. In most cases, students previously taught in vernacular medium find it difficult to follow the courses imparted mostly in English.

Keeping in mind these challenges as well as the requirements of the students, the college plans to be more inclusive towards vocational, professional, and other employment-generating courses in the future in addition to a bilingual medium of instruction approach if and where necessary.

Quality of learning is primarily determined by the following cornerstone and analysis has been made based on these cornerstones:

a) Curriculum: Students are to be offered programs that increase their employability. It requires multidisciplinary, integrative, and specially streamlined courses. But, being a single-stream institution, it makes it difficult to design and develop such courses.
b) Pedagogy: The teachers of the institution are to be trained and kept up to date on the pedagogical aspects i.e. the best ways to teach their respective subjects keeping in mind the demands of the market to enhance the employability of the students.
c) System of continuous assessment and evaluation: New and developed methods are needed for effective assessment and continuous evaluation of learning with changing times and needs.
d) Student support: Existing infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the requirements in many
aspects. For instance, learning environments in the institution need to be more engaging, supportive, and student-centered. To ameliorate these, quality laboratories, libraries, smart classrooms and games, and sports and recreational facilities could be
developed. For these purposes, the institute would require more funds.

Future readiness: Lastly, as emphasized throughout the report, the efforts made and envisaged by the institution towards future readiness include the development of courses that help enhance the employability of
the students and thus catering to the market demands.

Strategic plan of action for the next fifteen years

With a view to achieving the goals of NEP 2020, PDUAM Dalgaon will incorporate vocational and professional courses into its curriculum. This will be done by keeping in mind the objectives of NEP 2020, along with the demands of the market, and the needs of the local communities. The local communities of Dalgaon and its surrounding areas primarily depend on agriculture for livelihood and a substantial workforce is engaged in agriculture and allied activities. The PDUAM Dalgaon aims to promote their interests by designing and offering courses on agricultural studies that will integrate agricultural science with aspects of agricultural economics and market dynamics.

To ensure “access” and “quality”, the college plans to strengthen its curriculum, pedagogy, student support, and its system of continuous assessment and evaluation.

The PDUAM plans to direct sufficient effort, time, and resources to develop a mechanism that would promote and safeguard the interests of the student community. The future actions envisaged include:

i) Upgradation of existing infrastructure such as laboratories, classrooms, libraries etc.
ii) Construction of sports and recreational facilities such as health centres, auditoriums, indoor stadiums, yoga centres, and gymnasiums.
iii) Formation of student clubs focusing on music, reading, mathematics, physics, etc.
iv) Institution of scholarships for meritorious socio-economically disadvantaged students.
v) To offer counseling services on the physical, emotional, and psychological health of the students.

For increased “access” to higher education, the college shall take the following steps:

i) Rationalising the fee structure of the courses offered.
ii) Financial and academic assistance to socio-economically disadvantaged students.
iii) Offering programs that meet market demands and enhance employability.
iv) Offering courses with the vernacular Indian languages as the medium of instruction as well as bilingually.
v) Making the admission procedure inclusive to provide access to underrepresented and disadvantaged sections.
vi) Gender sensitization of all the stakeholders to promote gender inclusivity in all aspects of the institution.
vii) Strict adherence to the policies, rules and ethics ensuring no-discrimination and anti-harassment in the workplace.

Mission of the college to identify the goals, strengths, opportunities, priorities and commitments

i) Incorporation of ethics and skills in education for the development of holistic individuals.
ii) Emphasis on research and innovation for the larger interest of the nation.
iii) To offer equal and greater opportunities.

Identifying the strengths and capacity in regard to organizational gaps and develop the process to mitigate these gaps

As a single-stream science college, the strengths of PDUAM Dalgaon lie in its scientific and technological knowledge. Considering it, the college plans to use technical knowledge to promote sustainable agricultural practices in the region along with the promotion of natural sciences in an ecologically rich region. Further, it shall use its technological knowledge to promote ecotourism in the region, particularly in Orang National Park which is situated within a distance of 20 km.

Identifying institutional goals

PDUAM Dalgaon has set the below-stated long-term and short-term goals to fulfill the vision of NEP 2020 in higher education:

Long-term goals:

1. To evolve into an autonomous degree-granting college.
2. To develop its current infrastructure and promote research by overhauling the existing system and appropriate allocation of resources.
3. To offer vocational and professional education for integrated higher education. Emphasis would be given to the field of agriculture, considering the local needs and demands.
4. To develop into a multidisciplinary institution.

Short-term goals:

1. To offer Faculty Development Programmes (FDP) for the upgradation of its faculty.
2. Signing of MoUs with stakeholder institutions for proper linkage of secondary education with higher education.
3. Strategic action plan at the secondary level for motivating students towards science education at a higher level.
4. Tie-ups with industries and entrepreneurs for exposure of students and increase their employability.
5. Introduction of specialized subjects to provide multiple opportunities.
6. Offering more skill-based courses to students.

Institutional Level Challenges

The following challenges have been identified:

Long-term challenges:

1. Resource generation is one of the biggest challenges in the implementation of the proposed goals. Since funding can be only provided by the government, the institution will depend on government funding for the materialization of its goals. However, the institution aims to generate 20% of the required finances through resource mobilization.
2. Demographic structure of the locality and its vicinity poses serious problems in the attainment of goals.
3. Low Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of the region in the science stream makes it difficult to attract bright minds to the institution.
4. Providing new livelihood options to increase the standard of living is another major challenge.

Short-term challenges:

1. Motivating target groups towards science and technology.
2. Providing new and alternative opportunities to uplift livelihood.
3. Sensitization against superstitions prevailing in the stakeholder community.
4. Increasing participation of girl students in higher education to deal with the numerous problems (mostly posed by a higher rate of population growth) and challenges in the stakeholder community and increase the overall standard of living.

Hypothesis to mitigate and overcome the challenges in a phased manner

The institution aims to mitigate and overcome the challenges by “Identifying the challenges posed, prioritizing the challenges needing immediate attention, developing the expertise required for dealing with such challenges, and sorting out the interlinking issues among them.” This can be attained by promoting the holistic development of the stakeholder community through specialized education that takes into account their spatial and temporal issues and needs.

Strategies to promote leadership

The institution shall aim to promote leadership at both institutional and individual level. PDUAM Dalgaon will promote the interests of the stakeholder through community engagement and service contribution. As a single stream science college, it is equipped to deal with issues in the fields of agriculture such as testing soil quality, selection of crops, testing water quality, health and hygiene among others. The college shall work on these areas to cement it’s leadership position.

Further, the college will aim to promote it’s students in leadership role at local level. This will be done by providing them with holistic education so that they develop ethical and constitutional values, scientific temper, character and spirit of community service.

Mechanism to ensure “transparency” in governance

As has been already proposed in NEP 2020, a Board of Governors (BoG) will be established consisting of a group of highly qualified, competent, and dedicated individuals with proven
capabilities and a strong sense of commitment to the institution. This BoG will be answerable and liable to the stakeholders through the disclosure of the relevant records and documents. It shall be fully in charge of ensuring transparency in governance.

Further, decentralization of power through the appointment of relevant committees under qualified and dedicated coordinators and members will be practiced at the institutional level.

Phase wise tentative timeline of the implementation of the proposed IDP

1. 5year plan (2022-2027)

Developing expertise, Resource mobilization, and Skill development in all relevant fields are to be prioritized and attained in the first five years. In parallel to these, the college has tried to mitigate the identified challenges by sorting the interlinked short and long-term challenges.

2. 2027 onwards

Thereafter 2027, the college has aimed to:
● Transfer the expertise and skills to the target group
● Collect continuous feedback from the target group to determine the feasibility of the offered programs and services for self-assessment and evaluation. The the information gained will be further utilized to bring in improvements and changes.

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