Interview with Dr. Anumita Agarwal
Dr. Anumita Agarwal is an Economics professor in higher education with an experience of over 18 year. She is also a member of Indian Economics Association. FairGaze got an opportunity to interact with her. Read the excerpt below to know more about Dr. Anumita.
How did you decide to take teaching as your career?
As a student I used to teach the fellow students. My teachers too used to see lot of potential as a teacher in me that is how I went into teaching.
What educational qualification you undertook to pursue this profession?
Initially I took a post graduation degree. Then I cleared NET (National Education Testing) conducted by UGC. This is national level test which is conducted twice a year by UGC and clearing it makes a person eligible for teaching at higher education level. Then I did my PhD, but even before I started PhD I was already into a job. I completed my research later on, during my job.
What kind of challenges you faced during your student days?
During my student days, there were lack of internet facilities, today, as a teacher I think internet is an important source of information. Being from a small town, lack of books was the biggest challenge at that time. Had they been there at that time, it would have been much better for me as a student. So if I compare these things with present times, internet facilities, lack of books, and lack of staff in the colleges are the real challenges that I faced.
What is your opinion about the existing education system of
I think the educational system is burdening the students too much. Today, scoring marks has become more important than acquiring knowledge. So when students come to college level they do not have that much of potential and again the teachers have to start from the beginning, that is one thing that the policy makers needs to look into. Students should not be pressurized to acquire marks rather concentration should be more on acquiring knowledge. That is how the students will become clear of what they are learning as sometimes the students are unaware about what they are learning.
As a part of the education system what changes do you advocate?
The students come to us with similar challenges which I used to face at my students days. There is a lack of knowledge, they are confused. Students don’t know what to pursue, how to pursue and where to go. The coaching institutes help students but they keep on shifting and they reach nowhere. These are the few things that need to be looked into. The primary motive of the parents and teachers should be to look into the potential of the children.
Recently, you had organized an international seminar on sustainable development- how it made difference to the students of your college?
This seminar was organized in the hill area so it was one of its kinds in hills, where initially the students were not even aware as to what kind of seminar it is. So it was really enlightening event for them. We had many economists, both from the country and abroad. The students and the teachers were able to listen to the economists so this kind of system gave a good platform to the students to know much more than what the books and the institutions was to offer to them. It was an entirely a new experience for the students.
What changes you have witnessed in students in your more than 10 years of teaching experience?
I think few things in today’s students have deteriorated. At our time we were more disciplined and focused towards our career. Today the students start their career after completing their post graduation. On the other hand, when we were at our high school we were deciding about what stream we were to take up. Since, I have been into teaching in rural areas more so I am telling you from that point of view. But as I interact with the students from urban areas, they are more aware because the internet facility is there, they know where to go, they know about Google search. So, in my opinion there are few positive and negative changes in students.
Do you recommend students to take up teaching as a career?
Yes, because there is lack of higher education teachers in
What educational qualifications do you suggest them to pursue for this?
There is a difference in qualifications as per the school teachers are concerned and for college teachers are concerned. For opting a career as a school teacher one has to do graduation or post graduation with a B.Ed along with this one can also do ‘Teacher Training’ which the government has made compulsory which is similar to NET at a school level. Further, people can also go for higher education teacher job where they can do NET, conducted by the UGC or SLET that is conducted by the state governments, after completing their post graduation.
How do you think education in rural areas different from urban areas?
Lack of facilities and lack of infrastructure is there in rural areas where students are interested in learning but they don’t know where to go and what to do. Today where we have internet facilities, students’ from rural areas are unaware of it. So in rural area there is also lack of awareness in the students which needs to be enhanced entirely from schools to higher level, secondary level as well as college level.
What changes rural education is going through?
Gradually, the rural education is adapting changes from the urban areas. The government is also spending money on the E- learning. Satellite system is coming to the rural areas which make it possible for people to impart knowledge. These are few changes which I can see in the education system in rural areas. The Indian government is also working on their aim to achieve millennium and sustainable development in the country and they are concentrating on the enhancement of the education system across
In your opinion, should focus be on mentors than on formal teachers?
Yes, I think mentors are important because teachers are bound by syllabus, timetable, by the rules and regulations of the system. By abiding by those rules teachers are unable to focus on the good students for their betterment and weak students for their upliftment. Whereas a mentor can play a good role as they do not have such boundations. There is no restriction of syllabus, timetable, rules and regulation system for mentor that is how they can work in an autonomy that can increase the capacity of students. Also, there is no fear from the student’s side. Students can talk to the mentor about their weaknesses without any fear of the school and institution.
What are your future plans?
I would like to go for research, as being into teaching line I understand higher level teaching is not only focused on teaching, it is more like research, also. It can be in the form of books, research paper, curriculum making and many more, so I think we need more researchers in our country.