Assessment Report on
Institutional Accreditation of
Christian Missionaries were pioneers of education, chiefly in Kerala. The Alphonsa College, Pala, was started by a Christian Mission in the year 1964 in conformity with the prevailing trend and according to their faith in the call of Christ to serve. They sought to serve the people of India in several spheres such as education and health. They established the college to meet the need for higher education in the state of Kerala.
At its inception Alphonsa was conceived as a junior college for offering pre-degree education on a modest scale with 13 teachers who taught 400 students. Within the short period of three years the college grew vertically and horizontally, introducing undergraduate programmes in the year 1967 and a post-graduate programme in 1982.
The specific mission of the college as stated in the self-study report is to give wholesome education to young women to instill an unshakable faith in God and deep respect for moral and spiritual values. The college strives to make them conscious of contemporary realities, especially the need for social justice. They are taught the importance of national integration acknowledging all Indians as their brothers and sisters and above all cultivate a worldview wherein the entire humanity is considered as one family.
Reflecting this philosophy, the college, today, occupies an important place in the higher educational scenario. It is perpetuates the sacred memory of St. Alphonsa whose concern and sacrifice for mankind continues to be the driving force underlying the evolution of this institution.
In response to the request of the institution for its assessment and accreditation NAAC constituted the Peer Team consisting of Professor M. Malla Reddy, former Vice-chancellor, Osmania University, Professor H. Surya Prakash Rao, Department of Chemistry, Pondicherry University and Dr. A. Kanthamani, Principal, P.C. Jabin Science College, Hubli. The assessment was made between December 2 and 4,1999. All the Peer Team members reached Kottayam on 1st December 1999 according to the schedule and made their preparation. However, due to the hartal on 2nd December 1999 the visit was rescheduled from the 3rd to the 5th of December.
The committee carefully studied the functioning of, and the progress made by the college during the last three decades of its existence; within the frame-work of the guidelines and the specific parameters suggested by NAAC. The Peer Team held discussions with various groups, i.e., the Management, the Principal, faculty members, students, non-teaching staff, alumnae, parents and other interest groups. The team visited all the centres and departments and examined the supporting facilities along with the documentary evidence. The observations of the Peer Team as well as the assessment made are presented below. The presentation follows the criteria suggested by NAAC.
Section 2: Criterion-wise Analysis
The college offers Pre-Degree, Degree and Post-Graduate courses on the same campus. The Peer Team was informed that, the Government of Kerala is likely to issue an ordinance for de-linking pre-degree classes from degree programmes in all colleges in the state. However, the Peer Team confined its assessment of the institution to degree and P.G. level courses and management related issues. Therefore, the expression “College” for operational purposes refers to programmes offered at the undergraduate and the post-graduate levels only. The college offers two post-graduate courses, M.Sc. zoology; M.A. politics and six undergraduate programmes in science subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, politics, English Literature and clinical nutrition and dietetics. The college has added job-oriented diploma courses in fashion technology and computer applications recently on self-financing basis. The degree course in clinical nutrition and dietetics is a UGC sponsored innovative job oriented programme for undergraduate education. The syllabi of the programmes are governed by the regulations, of Mahatma Gandhi University to which the college is affiliated. There is an imperative need for offering computer education in all the undergraduate programmes. However, the college is yet to make a curricular review in order to incorporate this in the curriculum. Other ways of supplementation and enrichment may also be considered.
The college offers value education to women students. Moral science is taught once a week. All courses have some interdisciplinary component. For example, environmental science has been incorporated in the M.A. Political Science programme. A full-fledged undergraduate job-oriented course is clinical nutrition and dietetics was introduced in 1998 in response to social need. The programmes in dietetics, zoology and economics have created a healthy co-operation between the college and local industries and commercial establishments.
The college may introduce a course in home science utilizing its existing facilities in various departments such as zoology, clinical nutrition & dietetics and economics. The college may also introduce related programmes such as child development, rehabilitation science, the knowledge of which promotes the healthy upbringing of the future generation of youth. The college may make a corporate curricular review. Constraints apart, ways and means may be imaginatively thought of to enrich the existing curriculum.
The college has competent faculty to teach undergraduate programmes. However, only one fifth of them have research degrees. The college encourages and helps the teachers to undergo advanced academic training wherever possible. Intake of the students appears to be mostly from the local areas. The college may make extra efforts to attract meritorious students from outside the state or even from abroad. It may work out a revised fee structure especially for such students as a means of additional resource generation.
Recruitment and training of the faculty are essential to development. For this purpose the faculty may be encouraged to attend national level seminars/conferences/workshops. Departmental development funds may be made available for this purpose.
Students are the major strength of any institution. The Peer Team is very happy to note that present and past students love their institution. The student association is active and it takes care of their needs with the help of the Principal and the Management. The student- teacher interaction is very cordial. Students acknowledge with gratitude the concern and effort of the faculty wholesome personality growth during their stay in the college.
Teaching plan is prepared at the beginning of the academic year. In almost all the programmes class room studies are supplemented with field studies. Classroom teaching aids such as OHP are used. Students are encouraged to use the library during the library period. For the sake of freshers the college offers an orientation program which aims at sensitizing them to campus life and social issues.
The college follows the annual system of examinations and 20% of the marks are allocated for continuous internal assessment. The Peer Team found that assessments are transparent and students are benefited by them. The progress of each student is monitored closely and it is reported to parents/guardians. Marks for internal assessment include the student's performance in seminar, material collection. Innovative evaluation schemes, such as take-home tests, open book exams, problem oriented objective tests may be introduced. Model tests held before the finals have helped students to perform better in the university exams.
Presently, student representatives are encouraged to evaluate the programmes they have undergone and teachers who taught them. This helps the college and the individual teachers to perform better. The college may devise an organised method to obtain students feedback on all academic matters. In addition, faculty may be encouraged to undergo self-evaluation once a year. Such exercises will go a long way to enrich our teachers.
The Peer Team felt that the college could offer bridge/remedial courses to enable students acquire skills in writing and speaking. Students who had studied in the vernacular medium may be given training in English language skills.
Teaching, learning and evaluation are those of a conventional institution. Wherever these are a few salient features in pedagogy such as take-home tests and seminars- there is a general lack of pedagogic reform. The exams, the method of institution the performance appraisal of teachers and others are conventional. The effectiveness of these has not been high-lighted.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
Though the Management is conscious of the importance of research in the college; very few members of the faculty are actively involved in research work. Encouragement may be given for publications in popular media. It is noted with concern that the college library does not get many journals. It may, in future, subscribe for standard Indian journals such as Resonance, Chemistry Today and publications of CSIR and INSA for the benefit of faculty as well as students. Teachers should be encouraged to take up a leadership role in providing expertise for local requirements.
Some senior teachers are members of Boards of Studies of Mahatma Gandhi University. They were involved in the revision of the syllabi for undergraduate courses. Some of them edited books which are prescribed as texts in colleges.
The Peer Team is happy to note the commendable extension services rendered by the NSS, Youth Red Cross, Christian Student Movement, Welfare Cell and NCC volunteers. Two neighboring villages have been adopted for this purpose. As per the norms of the Government the extension service, is obligatory and activities such as building of houses, adult education, disaster management, health and social awareness camps are under taken by the institution. The college may offer some percentage of weightage in exams for student involvement in extension activities.
Different kinds of scholarships are awarded based on the performance of students in different fields, e.g. students who excel in sports get State Government scholarships. The college also duly rewards meritorious students. For the development of intimate relationship between the teacher and the taught the class-teacher system has been adopted. The absence of research culture on the campus may be noted with concern. Appropriate measures may be taken to motivate teachers and students to be formally and informally involved in research as part of teaching-learning process.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The college has adequate infrastructure facilities to conduct the courses offered. Maintenance of the infrastructure is by using Government grants and management funds. The college ensures optimum use of infrastructure facilities by permitting to use class rooms for camps, athletic meets, coaching camps and as venue for seminars, symposia, examination centre etc. The college also encourages using the academic facilities for organising programs in collaboration with other agencies like the regional centre of MIFT (Mangalore Institute of Fashion Technology) which include P.G. diploma in fashion technology and garment designing and a computer course. Due efforts are made to keep the college campus beautiful by ‘cleaning projects’, gardening, tree planting, constructing base platforms for shade trees etc.
The library functioning is made effective by an advisory committee. Other facilities in the library include photo copying and audio-video cassettes. The library is left open to students use on all working days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the number of books in the library is 33,811.
There is a central computer facility working on all days except public holidays and Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Health service is offered by Pranic Healing and medical bills are reimbursed by the college.
Infrastructure is available for sports and physical education. The outstanding sports persons are offered incentives like adding marks, cash awards and scholarships by the University, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and College. Free lodging and boarding facilities are made available to sports persons in Sports Hostels.
Criterion V: Student Support and Progression
The college has appropriate mechanisms to monitor student progression. The information is effectively disseminated through the academic calendar and prospectus. Telephone and locker facilities are made available.
The alumni of the college are well placed and the college is proud of them. As financial aid, counseling and placement services play a significant role in student empowerment. The college puts in adequate effort to achieve this goal. Education imparted by the institution must encourage the holistic development of students individually, socially and economically. This has been well attempted by the college.
The students have excelled in sports and other extra curricular talents/activities. The extension activities are also excellent. The motto of “Service to Humanity” is very well exhibited by their extension activities.
The infrastructure is adequate to meet present needs. However, a Master Plan for development during the next five years, may be helpful for corporate developmental planning.
Criterion VI: Organisation and Management
The organisational structure is conducive to the managerial functions of the college. An efficient internal coordinating and monitoring mechanism is available.
The college has also the mechanism for internal quality assurance. There is the best disciplined set up in the whole college. There is a clear and systematic evaluation of activities, conducted on regular basis. The Management is financially self sufficient and budgeting and auditing procedures are well followed.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The college has some healthy practices like the introduction of complementary and need based self-financing courses. Educational innovations are being implemented. The college has set up specific mission and goals and is working hard to achieve them. It establishes an intimate relationship between the teachers and the taught. An effective Parent-Teacher Association exists.
The college has the supporting facilities like library, computer centre, well maintained and disciplined hostels, excellent sports facilities, welfare schemes, canteen facilities, divine Prayer hall, book stall and stationery stall, telephone booth etc. Student comfort and well being is taken utmost care of. The college and hostel campuses are maintained neat and clean and adorned with a beautiful garden and trees. On the whole the college has a serene environment.
Alphonsa College is a multipurpose denominational institution established at Pala, Kottayam district, Kerala. The college is named after St. Alphonsa, a contemporary religious saint whose memory is latent in the minds of all those associated with the institutions. The college was founded in the year 1964, and within a short period of 35 years the college has evolved into one of the prestigious institutions in the region. The college caters for the higher educational needs of women students and aims at their empowerment and echoes the significant contributions of its founders. Students are exposed to ever expanding modern curriculum ‘abreast of times’ and future needs of our society. In order to accomplish the goals of the institution college organises many programs around the ‘affective sphere’ covering moral, spiritual and religious values.
Unlike many institutions of higher education the college ceases to operate from an ivory tower. It strongly believes in the integration of the world of work with the world of learning which is amply demonstrated by its extension activities and out reach programme. Students are regularly exposed to life guidance programmes, retreats and community service. The sending out ceremony of outgoing Alphonsians appears to be the culmination of the students’ institutional life and a sacred occasion where they take a pledge, to “be true to the values of their alma meter, family and society at large”.
It is commendable to note that the Management has created rich infrastructure, constructed massive buildings for the college and the hostels. The hostel buildings provide residential facilities for nearly 700 students. The laboratories, the library, the computer centre, the canteen etc. are designed well and they can serve the cause of higher education for generations of students.
The college is a composite institution offering both intermediate as well as the degree programmes on the same campus. The degree college is affiliated to the Mahatma Gandhi University. The Government of Kerala has advised through an ordinance to delink the pre-degree programs from the degree level courses. At the degree level there are 1152 students. P.G. and U.G. students pursue a fairly diversified curriculum in sciences and social sciences. Further expansion of the college appears to be restricted due to external interferences and for want of autonomy. Despite restricted freedom and formidable inhibitions from the government and the university, the college has made remarkable contribution for the cause of women’s education and their empowerment.
The Peer Team was impressed with the over all institutional climate – a manifestation of inter personal relations, devotion to duty and respect for the dignity of the people working in the institution. Within the frame work of overall institutional policy of the management in day to day administration, the faculty enjoys considerable freedom from interference. The Management is held in high esteem for its care of teachers and students, who in turn constantly nurture the institution in many ways. Keeping in view both strengths and weaknesses of the institution, the following recommendations are made which are intended to bring the institution closer to their vision.
· The college should prepare a master plan for its future development specially in view of major changes expected due to the de-linking of pre-degree courses from the degree programs.
· It is one of the limitations of the university that it does not grant autonomy even to institutions like Alphonsa College. In the opinion of the Peer Team the university may consider the institution for grant of autonomy.
· The Peer Team is impressed by the several accomplishments of the institution; but we draw the attention of the Management to its policies with reference to research. We strongly recommend that the college with its potential should promote reasonably wide research activities especially at post graduate level and introduce M.Phil. and Ph.D. programs in the near future.
· The college has on its plans several technical job oriented courses in addition to the existing self financing vocational programs which is a progressive step. Research in basic sciences should be viewed with equal importance, if not greater, in the interest of the pursuit of excellence.
· No institution can develop above the quality of its teachers. For some reasons, not many teachers have pursued research degrees. The Management should initiate a dialogue with the faculty on this account and ensure quality improvement on a priority basis. Institutional eminence, finally rests on the eminence of the faculty and this view should be the guiding factor in the recruitment of the faculty. It is gratifying to note that some junior teachers with research degrees have been hired by the institution.
· The rate of recruitment in many departments is not in proportion to the rise of the student population. Steps may be taken for appointing of qualified teachers in the existing vacancies.
· Publication of articles and books by teachers is an important obligation on the part of the faculty. Research output may be made known to the public.
· There is a need for restructuring the existing courses, in terms of need based and flexible combinations. The college should deliberate on this issue in consultation with outside experts.
· Faculty should be exposed to latest instructional seminars for updating their knowledge.
· Faculty should avail themselves of the possible assistance given by national bodies like U.G.C., I.C.S.S.R. for pursuing their research.
· All faculty members should be well equipped with the computer knowledge through the help of the computer centre in the institution.
The Peer Team would like to place on record their deep sense of appreciation and thanks to the Principal, the management and faculty, students and non-teaching members of Alphonsa College, Pala, for their unstinted cooperation in carrying out the noble task of assessment and accreditation. The Peer Team also thanks the NAAC representatives viz., Dr. Latha Pillai and Mr. B.S. Madhukar for their help. The chairman records his appreciation of the enthusiastic support from Dr. H. Surya Prakash Rao and Dr. Kanthamani for their co-operation. The chairman of the members of the Peer Team thank Professor A. Gnanam, Chairman, NAAC, for the opportunity given to them to assess the college.