Teaching for over 35 years now, Chitrangada Samantsinghar, Principal of Rama Devi Women’s College in Bhubaneswar, one of the premier educational institutes in the State, considers herself fortunate. She took over as the Principal in charge in 2013 when the college was all set to celebrate its golden jubilee year in 2014. A reader in psychology, Chitrangada has worked in many Government colleges all over the State and is considered one of the most efficient administrator-teachers. RD Women’s College has a student strength of 5,000.
Rama Devi Women’s College celebrated its golden jubilee last month under your stewardship. How does it feel to be a part of this?
When we were slogging for the celebrations, it never struck us how important the function was till it got over. It is now sinking in that the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, graced the event and we were successful in organising it in a grand way. For me, personally it has been a milestone.
When can we see the college becoming a university?
I believe it’s a matter of two to three years for all the parameters to be fulfilled. The process has begun and we are trying to get infrastructure ready and bettering the staff position, which are the two most important things. A few of the women’s colleges spread over the State will get affiliated to it once university status is granted. It is a matter of pride that this will be the first women’s university in Odisha when that happens.
What are your plans for the college in a few years?
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) team visit is due this month. Though the college has already got a A-Grade certification since 2004, NAAC accreditation holds a lot of meaning. Rashtriya Ucchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) under Ministry of Human Resource Development also has a lot of plans cut out for the college, in terms of funding to help us upgrade facilities in the institution.
As far as staff strength is concerned, we have the best of teachers and only one or two posts are lying vacant. I have plans to incorporate vocational training to the undergraduate level so that our students get skill development training and take up private entrepreneurship. We have plans to introduce Communicative English, Journalism, Photography and many other courses into the vocational curriculum. I am also keen on developing the counselling cell that can go a long way in motivating troubled students. I would also like to improve the placement percentage of students.
How do you orient teachers and students for research works?
Throughout the year, we organise seminars and there is an exchange of faculty from other places. We invite people from different professions to come and talk to our students. Furthermore, we have a compulsory project for students, which requires them to do a lot of research before they present it.
Do students interact with you frequently? Do you still take classes?
Often. They are free to come and meet me anytime they want. Things have changed over the years. These days, students are verbal with their needs and requirements. I do take classes because that keeps me close to my students and in touch with the latest in my subject.
How has the system of education changed now from what it was two or three decades ago?
A lot of change has taken place. E-education is the in-thing and internet has come as a boon for those craving to learn more. The pedagogical tools have changed. The scope of studies has also broadened.
How content are you as an educationist?
Absolutely a great feeling. When I come to know about my students competing in the national circuits and doing well that gives me immense satisfaction. Our students have been national and international sportspersons and many have cleared the civil services with flying colours. When we felicitate these students, I feel proud and it makes me feel like my purpose of being a teacher has been fulfilled.
What changes do you propose in the education system?
English as a communicative language must get priority from the school level so that in college, students don’t face problems in writing or communicating. Moral education should be made compulsory, which will strengthen the values of the students to become good human beings. A teacher has immense responsibility in shaping a student’s sensibilities and I would want all teachers to conform to this.
What challenges do you foresee?
Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) will be introduced soon. The Plus Two section will be separated from the rest of the wings, new syllabus will be in force from July 2015 session, and NAAC and RUSA preparations besides the usual admission process and elections every year are a few challenges to meet. I would also like to improve the IQ-EQ-SQ (intelligence quotient, emotional quotient and social quotient) of our students through education. I am grateful to the State Government granting us funds for upgradation of the institution, which will help us in a big way to improve infrastructure and include more hostels, classrooms, galleries and a library.
How do you unwind? Any book or movie that has made a lasting impression?
I usually don’t get time to even write a paper these days but I do watch movies and read at times. The Hindi flick Baghban remains a lasting memory and Genevieve by Eric Jerome Dickey has been one of my favourite books.