12th Graduation Day Ceremony

On 20.02.2014, the 12th Graduation ceremony was held at sree Saraswathi Thyagaraja college, Pollachi The function started with the Academic Procession in which The Principal, The Controller of Examinations, HOD’s, Directors, Deans, Management and the Chief Guest of the ceremony Padma Vibhushan Dr.C.Rangarajan, Former Governor, Reserve Bank of India and former Chairman- Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India.

The Management Committee members M/s.Lion.T.Sethupati, Chairman, STC, Mr.S.Venkkatesh, Vice-Chariman, STC, Lion M.A.Vijayamoghan, Secreatry, STC and Mr.M.Settu, Director-General, STC were present on the occasion.

After the procession, the function started with the Invocation of God. After that the Principal of the College Dr.V.Venkateswaran welcomed the gathering and also declare open the Graduation Day. The Chief Guest Dr.C.Rangarajan has delivered the Graduation Day address.

The text of his speech is as follows:

It gives me great pleasure to be here on the 12th Graduation Day of Sree Saraswathi Thyagaraja College. At the outset, let me congratulate all of you who are graduating today. Let me add a word of special appreciation to those who are receiving medals and awards. You should celebrate this moment, as your academic efforts have come to a successful fruition. As you enter a new stage in your life, your future is intertwined with the future of this country. But, at the same time, you have the opportunity to shape it. May you have the wisdom to apply your knowledge to the benefit of the country! I must also congratulate the Management of the Institution on the initiative they have taken to give to the society an institution which is truly focused on quality higher education. It is indeed unusual. They deserve all praise.

The importance of higher education in building up a nation is well recognized. The agricultural, industrial and scientific growth of this country depends upon creating a corps of well trained professionals in these areas and this can happen only with quality higher education. We need not belittle what we have achieved. However, there is an inescapable need to strengthen higher education in terms of quality and effectiveness. Increasing concerns are being expressed about the “employability” of our graduates. This is linked closely to the quality of education. Besides, it is also related to the relevance of the courses that are being offered to meet the current needs of the economy and the country.

No doubt, there has been a tremendous expansion of higher education facilities in this country during the last five decades. The number of students at the university stage which stood at 0.2 million in 1951 rose to over 20 million at the end of March, 2012. There has also been a significant increase in the proportion of girls in the universities. From a modest 13.7 per cent in 1950-51, the percentage had increased to about 42.76 per cent by 2012. At the time of Independence, the number of universities and colleges of all types stood at 20 and 500 respectively with 2.1 lakhs students in higher education. At present, there are 657 Universities (43 central, 311 States, 173 State Private, 130 Deemed to be Universities, 5 institutions established under state legislations) and 35,539 colleges in Higher Education sector. With all of this increase, it has to be noted that in the age group of 18 to 23, those attending higher education in 2010 constituted (i.e., GER) only about 19 per cent as compared with the world average of 29 per cent. However, the quantitative expansion in a short period of time has been very significant and is also the cause of some of the problems. Quality has suffered in the process.

The demographic profile of our country is favourable for growth and development. We have a young population. By the year 2020, the average age of an Indian will be 29 years which will be much lower than the average age of 40 years in the US, 46 years in Japan, and 47 years in Europe. Over two-thirds of the Indians will be of working age. This is what is commonly described as the “demographic dividend”. But we must recognize that the demographic dividend can only be reaped, if the young population is equipped with good education and skills.

The three dimensions of the reform of higher education are access, equity and quality. Broadening the access is extremely important when we see the gross enrolment ratio well below that of the developed countries. Equity is vital in order to ensure that under-privileged communities share the benefits of education. Equally important is the promotion of quality.

Improving quality requires action on many fronts. Modernization of syllabus/curriculum of courses is imperative in a world in which knowledge is expanding at a rapid pace.     It is necessary to recognize that knowledge is expanding in such a way that the traditional boundaries demarcating different disciplines may not be appropriate. So to say, new subjects and disciplines are emerging. There has to be a constant review of the course content so that our students are kept abreast of the most recent developments.

Along with the modernization of courses, we need to reform the examination system. It is very often said that the Indian education system is geared more to answering examinations than to acquiring knowledge. But this accusation arises partly because of the nature of our examinations. The questions that are asked do not call for the application of critical analysis. Most often, it is a test of memory rather than of critical abilities. The present evaluation system needs to be revamped to facilitate a more meaningful assessment of the students’ competence. The revamp of the examination system must incorporate two basic features. One, the process of assessment must be continuous so that the interest of the students can be maintained all through and that the examinations do not become purely a test of memory. Second, the examination must test the critical and analytical abilities of students.

Efficient teaching is the key to the promotion of academic excellence. The role of the teacher and his motivation are extremely important, if we have to achieve a substantial improvement in the quality of education that is being imparted. I am reminded of in this context of the well-known saying that it is only “a lighted candle that can light another candle”. Teachers have to show the necessary initiative to make the courses interesting to the students and keep themselves at the same fully apprised of the latest developments in their disciplines. The teachers’ organizations must take on themselves this as a major task. The minds and activities of students are diverted elsewhere only because they do not find the courses interesting enough and the courses do not fully absorb their energies. Utmost care has to be taken to select appropriate people as teachers. More than the brick and the mortar, the real foundation of an educational institution is the quality of teaching and therefore, that of the teacher. Apart from direct class room teaching, we must make effective use of technology to transmit to students the knowledge and wisdom of outstanding scholars. It is said that an average teacher conveys, a good teacher communicates and a great teacher inspires. We need more and more of inspiring teachers.

Equally important is the attitude of students. They must regard learning as an exciting experience. Students should show a genuine desire to learn and keep other interests out. They must be the ones who must be demanding a more rigorous education and a better examination system. They should be agitating for improved standards than for diluting standards.

The tasks that I have mentioned for improving higher education are more easily met in unitary universities than in a system of affiliated colleges. Most of the private universities are unitary institutions. The rise of private universities and private institutions is a recent phenomenon. In fact, their growth is phenomenal. According to one estimate 43 per cent of the number of institutions and 30 per cent of enrolment is in the private unaided institutions. A large proportion of these institutions offer programmes in the professional streams. In engineering, the proportion is as high as 91 per cent.

The functioning of the private universities and the unaided private institutions has come in for some criticism. Some regard private unaided universities as defacto for profit organization. The Yash Pal Committee has some strong words to say about private universities, even though it recognizes the establishment of ‘many respectable institutions by private individuals or corporations. Higher quality education means higher cost particularly in the field of Science and Technology. For this reason, these institutions cannot however follow a ‘cost plus’ formula. They need to economize without compromising quality. In the U.S., the best universities are private universities. Their fees are higher than those in State universities. But these universities are funded heavily by philanthropists.   There are instances in which people have left behind after their death all their estate to universities. We need to develop the culture of “giving” in this country. The attributes of access, equity and quality apply as much to private universities as they are to public universities. Quality is an issue with respect to private institutions also. It is here the regulators such as AICTE and Accreditation authorities come in. They are the watchdogs of quality. Despite charging higher fees not all private institutions employ teachers with good quality. It is not surprising that in many private engineering colleges, seats are vacant. Private institutions need to find appropriate mechanisms to help deserving students financially. It is higher education that empowers the youth from any socio economic background to participate in the opportunity structure of the nation. It is the biggest leveler.

In accelerating the growth of the economy, universities have an important role. In the world of today, competition in any field is a competition in knowledge. That is why we need institutions of Excellence. I am deeply impressed by your Management’s commitment to quality education. They have set a good example for others to follow. May I once again congratulate all of you who are graduating today and wish every one of you a fulfilling career!

The Chief guest also presented the Gold medals and silver medals to the Rank holders. There were 16 Gold medalists and 15 Silver medalists. In all, 713 graduates have received their Graduation certificates from the chief guest. After that, all the graduates have taken the Pledge and the message was read by the Principal. Prof.R.Padmanaban, Dean academic affairs has proposed the Vote of Thanks followed by Dissolution of the Graduation ceremony message by the Principal. The function came to an end after the National Anthem.

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