GCU proposes revolutionary changes in teaching methods
* Recommends performance-backed track for varsity teachers
By Waqar Gillani
LAHORE: The Government College University (GCU) has proposed revolutionary changes in teaching methods and teachers’ service structure in a recent paper.
GCU Vice Chancellor (VC) Dr Khalid Aftab, who prepared the paper with the help of the university staff, forwarded it to the GCU chancellor, Punjab Governor Lt Gen (r) Khalid Maqbool.
The chancellor has reportedly assured the VC that the proposals would be placed before the Higher Education Commission (HEC), promising that they would be given serious thought.
The paper that proposes a performance-based track for teachers was read out by the GCU VC for the chancellor. The public sector universities are, however, opposing the performance-based track, which is part of the Model University Ordinance.
The proposals said a strategic vision was required to look at the environment in which the GCU would work. Among the external forces having special importance for the GCU is economy saddled in the budget deficit, the globalisation of economies and the ever-increasing flow of ideas and information across national boundaries, revolutionary advances in computing and networking technologies and the need for an inter-disciplinary approach to academic problems. In view of these considerations, the GCU has prepared its academic plans with reference to three guiding principles: efficiency, relevance and quality.
According to the proposals, openly discussed at a seminar held at the GCU on May 23, 2003, the views by the GCU faculty and that of the students’ representatives on various educational aspects were given a serious consideration.
Teaching/non-teaching staff: For the role in decision/policymaking at the university level, of all the factors of quality of education, none is as important as the teaching faculty itself. The plans for a qualitative change in the academic programmes of the GCU would depend essentially on the academic qualifications, research potential and motivation of teachers.
The GCU has worked out a plan for training of the staff at four levels: (a) in the GCU, (b) in other Pakistani universities, (c) in foreign universities and (d) in other Pakistani research organisations such as NESCOM, PAEC, PCSIR and others.
The paper said teachers should also be involved in decisions/policymaking. They should play vital role in determining academic, administrative and financial priorities of the university, with the purpose of promotion of higher learning and dissemination of knowledge.
It proposed that the working of the existing bodies like academic council should be reviewed to ensure participation of teachers in the process of decision-making.
New informal structures and procedures may be developed for opinions and suggestions of the faculty members regarding crucial decisions and policies and their onward transmission to the administration for incorporation.
In this regard, the formation of teachers’ forums, academic staff groups and similar bodies may be helpful. Sharing of experiences by teachers of various universities on this issue can lead to development of an integrated stance.
Selection procedures: The rationale of any selection procedure for the teaching staff is to ensure the regular availability of the personnel with sound and up-to-date knowledge of their subject and also well-endowed with communicative skills.
The existing selection procedure at the GCU has been found satisfactory but need to advertise the vacancies more effectively has been stressed. Specific needs of the departments to be thoroughly taken into account prior to the advertisement of vacancies.
An alternative to the existing procedure has also been suggested, according to which instead of selecting a lecturer directly, he/she should be selected first as a teaching assistant or a research assistant and may be considered for selection as lecturer after completion of two years of probation period. This practice is in vogue in the GCU since 1997. Teaching assistants and research assistants recruited on contract basis should be given good salary and other incentives.
The relation between job satisfaction in terms of emoluments and performance is universally recognised. The expression of the total dissatisfaction with the existing conditions on the part of the faculty members is very strong and needs to be addressed promptly. The widening gulf between the remunerations offered in the public and private sector may adversely affect the performance level and motivation structures of the public sector universities.
The GCU praised that the implementation of the restructured grades for university teachers as announced recently by the HEC chairman be ensured. Another chance for absorption into the GCU service is provided to the government staff working in the GCU on deputation. Deputation allowance should be given to the staff on deputation at the GCU.
House requisition facility may be made available for the GCU staff also, as it being practised in other universities. Monetary incentives for research work and research degree holders should be increased.
Training: Traditionally the training of teachers at the university level is an ignored area. However, the universally recognised principle of continual professional development demands that a system of pre-service and in-service training for university teachers be evolved. For that a new structure for teachers’ training should be established at the GCU, which should develop procedures for nurturing the pedagogic, communicative and management skills of the new selectees.
Short-term courses should also be made available for in-service teachers. The system of refresher courses should be revived to provide the teachers with an opportunity to upgrade their knowledge in their respective fields. Participation of teachers in the national and international conferences in their respective fields of learning should be encouraged and the procedures made simple.
Promotion and evaluation: Need for a transparent, systematic and performance-based promotion procedure has been emphasised. The current system of student evaluation of the teachers’ performance has generally been praised. Moreover, it has been opined that higher qualification and outstanding performance in research work should get greater leverage in promotion to higher grades.
It has been recommended that more posts of professors and associate professors should be created to increase chances of rapid promotions for qualified staff.
Annual Confidential Report (ACR) should be done away with. The GCU has now a system of Annual Performance Evaluation Report. During evaluation of teachers, two extremes of the judgment scale should be eliminated.
Research incentives: Active promotion of genuine and original research in all the fields of knowledge is one of the primary objectives of a university. The achievement of this goal can be greatly facilitated through the provision of a multi-faceted system of motivations for research-scholars.
The extent of research incentives is fairly wide, ranging from the rewards for research publications, formal recognition and promotion to higher grades to the improvement of research facilities in the labs and libraries.
The current provision of awards for research papers should be made more attractive.
In addition to the bigger projects, smaller and low-budget research projects should also be encouraged by the HEC. Provision of reward to research-scholars with outstanding work may be considered.
Research incentives and research opportunities should be equal both for natural sciences and social sciences. To facilitate research work, mini-computer labs may be set up in each department with uninterrupted Internet facilities.