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In Conversation With: Prof. (Dr.) Satyendra Narayan Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Nilambar Pitambar University, Daltongunj, Palamau

Prof. (Dr.) Satyendra Narayan Singh, a distinguished faculty of [Department of Physics] in Ranchi University, before resuming the office of Vice-Chancellor in NPU University. He started career as lecturer in 1981, then promoted as reader, professor subsequently headed the department of physics in [Ranchi University]. A renowned scholar, an administrator and darling of students during his stint as teacher and head of the department. His notable contributions are still remembered by many students. Initiatives, like Coaching Schemes for Disadvantaged Students and Advance Science & Technology Research Centre got massive success. His [Dr Sahab] initiatives and its implementation were widely appreciated by then Chief of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council [NAAC]. NPU witnessed bags of accomplishments during his Vice-Chancellorship, such as organising; a) intellect based seminars for better development of students, have been able to arrange four back to back seminars in year 2018 and many are planned for this year too. b) University witnessed it first convocation, another term-convocation is to take place this year and he has already been working on this, the timing and date will be decided soon. c) Held first senate meeting after its inception. d) encouraged students, teachers to be participative. To promote the culture of engagements Dr. Singh free hands aspirants, as a result – department of physics whispered research orientations in order to promote interactive session amongst students, teachers, and researchers. So are other departments of colleagues, Department of Economics and Hindi benefitted out of that. Dr. Singh is committed to bring change in university in coming days and confident about the endorsements from all walks of life. Urging, teachers, students, intelligentsia, parents to be part of drive the positive being anticipated. We all must together with full enthusiasm in order to attain the larger goals. An excerpt during the conversation with the Editor of The Observer Anuj K. Tiwari, Dr. Singh speaks at lengths as to how the University [NPU] is planning to perform in the era, its achievements and opportunities so far.

Since, you are a seasoned academia which commands over knowledge in the field of education and academics. How do you see the shifts which have taken place in Indian education system over the years?

It’s a tough question rather – which probably will not be closed in one/two sentences, as the question is itself worth high. Drawing comparison will obliviously be longer to its roots. Though, my opinion is realistically bigger, which is based on my personal observations, considering all aspects of it. There have been lot of changes taking place; everybody wants to use innovation at this point of time.

I was one of the youngest to enter into the teaching profession in 1981 as lecturer. I secured a job immediately after I finished my MSc. The biggest change I have seen over all these years is, people have become more quality conscious now. The landscape of Higher Education has really changed. We have new students, coming from varied socio-demographic backgrounds, with very different mindsets. They have grown with technology and internet. They have experienced how technology makes their lives easier and convenient; so why not education? That is one change that we all can think of it. Now, the modern technologies have entered into the classroom. Because of these ever emerging technologies, the nature of teaching-learning has undergone tremendous change. Those changes can one see now very clearly. Earlier, it was chalk and talk method, now we have smart board where teacher was active but the student was passive.

The entire approach was teacher centric. But now it has become more learner-centric. Technologies are making great impact in education. Knowledge is also growing very fast in every discipline. The doubling time of knowledge has shrunk considerably. This is a change which poses a big challenge in education to keep pace with. But unfortunately, with so many changes happening, we still we have to do more to compete others.

Tell us about NP University. How do you plan to build on the success of NPU’s long presence?

The NPU, is a state university which came into effect in 2009. We have currently four constituent colleagues, sixteen affiliated colleagues, three technical institutions, one law colleague, and fourteen B.Ed colleagues. And I believe, there are more to join in days to come. So, our responsibility is going to increase also with passage of time. Therefore, we have to think, plan and achieve it within a stipulated timeline. I joined in May 2017 and since then I am working effortlessly so that our stakeholders i.e. students, teachers, staffs, parents and others can get more. I emphasis on quality education notwithstanding to the crunch of resources, however, to counter – those we recruited about 50 resources contractual guest faculties/staffs and still planning to hire more people as per the [sanctioned seats]. Unfortunately – we are finding less people around so this is a serious issues altogether.

Just after resuming office of the Vice – Chancellor, NPU did its first convocation during my tenure and I am committed to complete abother convocation this year too. First [Senate meeting] was held last year which has not been held for several years. Through – there were complaints from the senate members for meeting not being held, but I welcomed their genuine concerns, and affirm that the same will be addressed and also it will continue to happen during my tenure atleast. So, we have already planned it and can meet again once everybody agrees to that.

As far as student’s welfare is concerned that – I am fully committed to serve them, the students are my backbone. If they don’t perform and grow, university’s goals cannot be achieved, therefore, I truly believe that it is also going to happen in days to come. In every segment – I care for them, whenever they [students] come to me, I have never said no to them, if those are seemed to be genuine. At the same time, I would also request people from all walks of life, comprises Students, teachers, parents, academia, intelligentsia to have their maximum participations in order to drive the changes. Unless, all join hands altogether ‘one swallow doesn’t make summer’ Please joins us in drive the change.

What opportunities do you see for NPU to play on the national or international stage?

Look! I am quite positive about the changes being taking place with effect, and would like to use it maximum for the betterment of our student as well as our institutions. The coming years will be for innovations and innovative minds only. Therefore, would urge my young and ignited students that they must work in right directions with positive approaches. I am also very keen to bring all such things into use at university and college level [under NPU jurisdictions], as maximum use of innovations can change people’s thinking level.

As far as, the term ‘change’ is concerned in our country, which we must analyse at broader level. India has been a developing country which is why the other [developed nations] were restricting us from various benefits; such as use of technology, science and innovations. However, over the period of time, mindset of the people are getting varied from – we are being welcomed, invited to be part of initiatives being started at world’s forum. Surprisingly, our boys are doing extremely well at international platforms. It is our endeavour, which includes students, teachers, parents, all them coming together to celebrate the success of it.

As ‘Administrator’ often realise a good sign; and the days is not far that we can be ahead of almost everything, but it will take time. When, I was very young as lecturer, I used to think of it – now the dream comes true, so it really gives me immense pleasure to be part of this movement.

What are the core strengths of the university?

Look, we are in process of developing the good infrastructure for university and its affiliated colleagues, existing institutions in multiple education areas, presence in education sector for more than 20 years, competitive curriculum, good vision with focus on quality education and all-round student development, employment and industry links. Being a teacher first, then an administrator of a University, I must speak truth, and then I should anticipate others to follow it. So, currently we are lacking at many stages on the same, but hopefully that many positive things have to come. I must express happiness that one my student got selected for Central University of South Bihar. Now, he will be teaching there, and it has certainly helped, and will continue in boosting up the moral of others as well. Other students should get inspired from him, which will also help them to grow and foster their career.

What are your suggestions, to integrate quality at all levels of education?

In my personal view, our method of recruitment of teachers needs fundamental change. We do graduation, post-graduation, PhD, NET and then get a job to teach in college or university. But all these qualifications are to test the domain knowledge. Nobody tests your pedagogical skills. For example, I was an MSc pass out when I started teaching in the University. I had good domain knowledge, but I was never taught how to teach. So formal trainingon teaching skills is missing. School education at least has some formal exposure through B.Ed. I would suggest for some short- term induction program, to give formal training on how to teach. How systematically and logically one speaks is very important in teaching! Even if somebody has enough knowledge, imparting that knowledge appropriately to the students is a big task. Subject competency is utmost important and there should not be any compromise on that. But, your teaching should reflect the amount of thinking you have done on the subject. Your teaching is the manifestation of your thinking. That should be the hallmark of a good teacher. We lack on this sort of training, which is unfortunate and which affects quality.

Again, there is no clear definition of quality. For some, it is an outcome. For example, if the result is good in a class, it proves about good quality. Sometimes it is relative to stakeholder. Students view it differently; for teachers the meaning is different and for evaluation teams it is all the more different. The yardstick varies. Quality is nonetheless, continuous reduction of defects. We need to focus on this. We don’t have any award or recognition system for excellence in teaching. That is there for research areas, but not for teaching in higher education. We must remember assessment drives learning. In higher education, a teacher has two roles to fulfil- one is disseminating knowledge which is teaching and other is creating knowledge which is research. So broadly, knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination are the two activities. One should assess the teachers for both the factors, which is missing, unfortunately.

What are the vision and ideas for research you have for the university?

As I said earlier, University’s main function is knowledge creation and knowledge dissemination. Knowledge creation is all about research which is one of the important activities of the university faculty members. How good they will be in research initiatives will ultimately depend on the quality of teacher intake. My endeavour will be to attract, retain and nurture best talent to this university. Once you have the talent pool, there will be smooth ride, be it research or academic initiatives or technology integration. And we are ready to provide them all kind of support in this direction. All evaluation agencies including international ranking agencies, give utmost emphasis on the research quality. Research is no doubt an important area for us.

How do you like to see your Vice Chancellorship here in next few years?

You see! as per the rule, the term of a Vice-Chancellorship is for three years, and I have almost completed 2 years here, I have another year to work during which I want to witness massive chnage, implementation and sucess here in the NPU. In past – I have held many senior level administrative positions. But this is different, as I have to start the university from scratch, as a Vice Chancellor. Even I have to build my first ordinance. This is very exciting as well as challenging to discussing around how university start does. I have another year to work here as Vice-Chancellor, and looking forward for many things to happen within.

Firstly – My focus will still remain on organizational setup on broader level; I want to have everything in place such as student’s welfare: – a) we are planning to have a virtual session/class which also aims to promote innovation in education. For which work is almost done. b) every colleague would have a virtual classroom, where students can attend classes, ask questions etc. c) students shall be able to learn through, by sitting in different colleagues, they can ask questions, and faculty will be answering to those virtually. d) it will also help them [students] to through with technologies which they mightn’t have experiences so far. So, definitely it is going to be beneficial for them along with us as we have scarcity of resources now.  

Secondly – I want to stay focus on student’s welfare and engagements. I am seriously concerned about the less attendance of students either, no attendance at all. Students must come forward to avail the benefits of reading more. All we understand that without reading, we cannot achieve our target. Therefore, I appeal to them that you please make your appearance as much as possible, register your maximum participation in the class session.

But here, you can actually make a big fundamental change. The way of our examination systems, the admissions, the student discipline, whatsoever is your vision, here is an opportunity to implement. That will be a very big thing for me if I am able to do through the vision.

Last but not the least – tell us one important message for students and teachers of the colleagues and university.

I would like to say only about that the messages are interpreted, and made in the minds of those who read them and then later convert into their interests. As, I always believe in this philosophy in ‘self praise is not recommended’. Nevertheless, I would urge my children [students] to please attend the classes, make your presence in classroom, use of resources. Register your maximum participation in the classroom in order to gain knowledge.

 

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