Dharmapuram Gnanambigai Government Arts College for Women, Mayiladuthurai, came into existence in the year 1967 with the generous contribution of Rs. 2 lakhs by Adheeman Mutt and by academicians and government officials in the region. Initially the institution offered the pre-university programme for teaching mathematics, science and arts. In the year 1974, keeping the needs of women education as a priority, the government of Tamilnadu constructed a good building in a prime area of 13.72 acres of land, where the present college stands. During the last two decades, the college became a degree college offering 4 disciplines in arts and 5 disciplines in sciences, both at the UG level. Recently the college has upgraded two departments, viz., history and economics to postgraduate level and also offers research facilities in the department of history where five students pursue the M. Phil. programme. The college is a major contribution of the government of Tamilnadu and some visionaries to the development of backward women students in the area.
In response to the request of the institution for its accreditation and assessment, NAAC constituted the Peer Team consisting of Prof. Malla Reddy, former Vice-Chancellor of Osmania University, Hyderabad, Prof. Jacob Chacko, Professor & Head, Dept of Chemical Oceanography, Cochin University of Science & Technology and Dr. Sr. M. Olivia A.C., Professor and Principal, St. Agnes College, Mangalore. The Peer Team visited the college on the 27th and 28th of December 1999, examined various dimensions of institutional functioning, interacted with the functionaries like the Principal, the Management, faculty, non-teaching staff, parents, alumni, and the student community. The following is the assessment of the institution made by the Peer Team on the basis of the seven criteria suggested by NAAC.
Though it was originally started as an Arts college, it now offers five U. G programmes in science and four in arts. The college has also recently introduced two P. G programmes and one M. Phil. programme in arts. It offers a certificate course in computers to non-computer students.
Among the existing programmes some are vocational. These are computer science and biochemistry in B. Sc, Applied Tamil in B. A which is the first of its kind in the university, it includes journalism, mass communication, administrative Tamil, printing technology and translation and the allied subject under history it includes the vocational subject, archeology & museology. At the P. G. level, M.A. in Applied Economics too has scope for jobs in the future.
The college has a well-conceived goal, the curricula being framed for the progress of women’s education, especially for the upliftment of the economically and socially backward women students.
The college has introduced two unique new courses like B.A. (Applied Tamil) and B.Sc. biochemistry in Tamil which are not available anywhere else in the university. It is also one of the two colleges in the university to teach the vocational subject archeology & museology in the department of history. The curriculum also includes some subjects which are interdisciplinary.
The Peer Team, while interacting with the faculty of the different departments, suggested that each department may arrange to offer different certificate courses in addition to the already existing curricula prescribed by the university.
Students are selected for different programmes of study through an entrance test. Almost all programmes are made available to the local girls and seats are given to the less privileged at a lower cut off point.
Assignments and seminars are conducted to test the student’s knowledge and skills as well as to help in an overall assessment. Remedial and special classes are conducted for weak students. The quick achievers are encouraged to participate in intercollegiate activities, summer institutes and seminars. The methods of evaluation adopted are tests, model exams, assignments, seminars, quizzes, records and project reports. These are regularly checked and communicated to students.
The Principal and the Heads of Departments monitor the implementation of teaching, learning and evaluation processes.
Teachers are encouraged to use other teaching aids such as the OHP, audio-visual equipment etc. to supplement the lecture method.
The success rate in some departments needs to be improved. The departments of zoology, economics and English have maintained a high success rate at the UG level. The intellectual standards sustained by many students and their creative imagination are commendable. The zoology teachers give surprise tests to students regularly. The department of English offers foundation courses for I Year undergraduate students to improve their language skills. They help the students who come from a system of schooling which has not given them basic skills in communication.
It is significant to note that in some departments like Economics, the faculty has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to their students by extending even financial support to the needy and the deprived student. The Team records its appreciation of the voluntary contribution made by the staff members of the economics department in this regard.
Among the Faculty members the department of zoology has a well-qualified staff. Many other departments are encouraging colleagues to pursue Ph.D. studies.
With regard to participation of teachers in seminars and conferences, the Peer Team noted with concern that in many departments, the faculty members are not exposed to the latest developments in their respective fields. However, the faculties on the whole are academically sound in the curriculum they handle. There are 10 Ph.D. degree holders and 45 M. Phils and at present 4 are deputed to pursue Ph.D. under the UGC - FIP scheme.
The college follows a self-appraisal method to evaluate the performance of the faculty in teaching and their participation in evaluation and institutional programmes. The teachers’ contribution is also assessed by HODs and the Principal on a continuous basis which acts for the purpose of providing feedback to teachers in their respective departments.
The college has a central library with 24,000 volumes which, unfortunately, are not used by students due to certain administrative constraints. The institution should make earnest efforts to appoint a qualified librarian and provide open access to the library for all learners in the institution. Though all departments maintain a small departmental library of their own and the students are provided with adequate literature to pursue their studies, the facilities available in the central library cannot go unutilized.
The college, which is 33 years old, could have attempted innovation in student assessment, teacher performance appraisal and in learner-centered pedagogy.
There is a research committee for promoting research in the college. It acts as an information dissemination centre in creating awareness among the faculty for preparing research projects and submitting to various funding agencies for research support. At present there are two ongoing research projects which are indication of the research work done in the institution.
The research work undertaken by students in the form of micro level projects as an integral part of their degree course is a healthy practice which introduces students to the basics of research at the formative stage.
With four more teachers (who are now on deputation pursuing Ph.D.), joining the departments on completing their programmes, the institution will be endowed with considerable man power resources for promoting further research in the institution. Thus the institution should make continuous effort to promote research culture for the benefit of both the teachers and the students of the college.
Extension work undertaken by the institution is a strong point of the college, which covers community development, health and hygiene awareness, adult education and literacy, AIDS awareness, social work, medical camps, blood donation camps and environmental education. There is also a Population Education club. Extension work is planned along with NGOs and GOs. There is a team of staff members who guide NSS work. Encouragement is given both to students and staff for undertaking extension activities.
Recognition is given by the conferment of certificates, medals and awards, such as the Best NSS Officer, Best Ranger Team in the District, Best Ranger Officer Award, and the Best Ranger Student Award.
The College has a campus with an area of 13.72 acres and it accommodates the various arts and science departments and other facilities like hostels, library, staff, etc. More infrastructrel facilities are proposed to be provided. Construction of new Class-rooms is in progress. It is heartening to note that the AOS, PTA an MP's funds are being used for augmenting the infrastructure. Existing buildings are reasonably well maintained by the state PWD and the Department of Education. The open land around the college may be developed with proper landscaping, which can be done by a professional horticulturist.
The buildings require better maintenance. Besides the staff and student volunteers, the college has been able to secure the involvement of service organizations like the NSS, ROTRACT, JAYCEES etc. for maintaining the Campus. This is well appreciated as it reflects the concern and responsibility of the community for the affairs of the college.
In addition to the departmental libraries, there is a Central library, which has a collection of 24031 volumes. There is also a book bank in the central library. A library Advisory Committee constituted by the College looks after the affairs of the library.
There is a central computer facility in the college and this is attached to the department of computer science. There is a LAN system comprising 10+1 and 5+1 nodes in addition to other stand alone systems. The Computers are maintained on an "on-call" basis.
Sports facilities provided in the college include a small area for physical exercises, various play-grounds / courts, facilities for indoor games etc. Good incentives are given to meritorious sports persons. Besides endowment prizes and cash awards, special prizes and cups are given to university participants. This encouragement is reflected in the outcome: the College has won 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in state level competitions.
As far as student amenities are concerned, besides a college hostel, there are separate BC and SC hostels, although the wisdom of such a segregation is debatable. Medical facilities provided include annual medical check-ups for all the students.
The college publishes separate prospectuses for UG and PG courses every year. 95% of the students admitted appear for the qualifying examinations and the drop-out rate is 5%.
Besides merit scholarships, several merit-cum-means scholarships are also available to students. On the whole, over 60% of the students receive some kind of financial assistance or the other. This is a good encouragement to lady students and augers well with the goal of the college viz., the upliftment of women through education.
The college has an Old Students’ Association and PTA which play an active role in maintaining and augmenting the infrastructure of the college through donations. Prizes, supply of furniture etc. Periodic meetings of the OSA and the PTA are held. These provide a forum for obtaining a feed-back on the functioning of the college as well as on the acceptability of the courses offered. Suggestions received are taken into account while formulating new programmes / policies of the college.
A tutorial system is in vogue and regular ward meetings are held to facilitate closer student- teacher interaction.
The college calendar is prepared by a separate committee. There are also other committees to oversee the functioning of the OSA, the PTA, Fine Arts activities etc.
Staff Quarters are provided. Welfare schemes for teaching/non-teaching staff include GPF, Advance Schemes for HB, FA, education, vehicle, computers, marriage etc.
There is also a Grievance Redressal mechanism which functions through the formation of committees.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
Besides the processes and programmes mentioned under the above six criteria, the college in addition has the following healthy practices:
1. Annual verification is adopted by the college for internal quality check.
2. The College is conscious of the importance of computer skills. A training programme was organized for the non-teaching staff to acquire computer skills to modernize their office activities.
3. The college conducts practical value-based programmes through enrolment and involvement in SSL, CDI, NSS and other service organizations.
4. Students are helped to imbibe life-oriented skills through the general positive approach adopted by the college: skills of learning capacity are enhanced through the conferment of proficiency prizes; communication and numerical skills are strengthened through seminars, essays and oratorical contests and quizzes respectively; the students are introduced to the gaining of knowledge in modern trends especially information technology: e-mail services and internet facilities are available in the college.
5. The culture of working with a team-spirit which exists among the staff has percolated to students. The institutional climate provides ample scope for social and personality development among the students.
6. The Department of English offers a foundation course for developing communication skills among freshers joining the institution, especially for the benefit of those who come from rural areas as first generation learners.
7. The Peer Team appreciates the philanthropic gesture of the faculty in extending financial support to needy students.
8. The college publishes an annual prospectus giving the details of admission procedures, programmes offered, fee structure and financial aid available. The college also explains in the prospectus the philosophy of the institution and the behaviour expected of the students seeking admission to this institution.
9. The college has instituted a few scholarships for meritorious students and other forms of financial aid to the socially and economically deprived in the interest of social justice and with a view to create an egalitarian social order.
10. The college has started a number of welfare programmes like advancing loans and financial support to its employees both the teaching and the non-teaching.
11. The college has guidance and counseling cell and a tutorial system, which is an essential component of education, particularly in a women’s college. The students during their interaction with the Peer Team have acknowledged the significance of these, which enable them to share both their personal and emotional problems in confidence with the faculty. This can also act as a very strong source of psycho-dynamic therapy for girl students involved in emotional problems.
Section 3: Overall Analysis
Dharmapuram Gnanambigai Government Arts College for Women, Mayiladuthurai was established in July 1967. The college is situated in a prime area of 13.72 acres of land in Mayiladuthurai which is a semi-urban area. The college is affiliated to Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli and offers 13 programmes in all -- 9 UG, 2 PG, 1 M.Phil and 1 Certificate course encompassing three major faculties, i.e., Science, Arts and Technology (Computers). The significance of the college lies in the fact that the College has been conceived exclusively for the cause of women education in a backward region of the state. It is fully funded by the government.
Though it is popularly known as Government “Arts College”, it also offers science programmes, which form a dominant component of the curriculum. It is therefore desirable to rename the institution as “Arts and Science College” for obvious advantages.
The college has many accomplishments to its credit. During the last 33 years it has emerged as an important institution and it has considerable potentialities for further expansion. Though the government of Tamilnadu is in favour of conferring autonomy on almost all government colleges it has not initiated any steps in this direction. Seeking autonomy for academic expansion is imperative on the part of the institution. The college has well qualified teachers with 51 permanent teachers and 20 temporary teachers; all of them are ladies. There are 10 Ph.D. holders and 45 M.Phil. holders and a few more are pursuing their doctoral programmes under various schemes. The faculty which is the backbone of any institution is thus very strong in this college both in terms of the academic qualification and their professional experience in teaching-learning and evaluation. The faculty has sufficient motivation to update their professional knowledge further by attending seminars and conferences and therefore there is a need to encourage the faculty by providing necessary incentives and financial support in future.
The college has a central library which is not open for the use of the students due to certain administrative reasons. It can make arrangements without any more delay to keep the library open for the use of both the day scholars and students in the hostels. It has many other facilities -- a computer centre, sports cell, canteen, a grievance redressal cell and a hostel for about 120 students.
The College is a miniature community with close-knit interpersonal relationships between the faculty and the Management. The faculty enjoy considerable freedom and are able to introduce many innovative programmes like the foundation courses in few subjects like English, organize extension activities, and to impart value-oriented education keeping in view the holistic personality development of students. In spite of lack of academic freedom in the absence of autonomy, the faculty is resourceful enough to design a few new courses and to seek the approval of the university to introduce the same. The course designed in Applied Tamil deserves special mention here.
Thus the college has many noteworthy achievements to its credit. However, considering the challenges in the education of women and their empowerment, the college should take many more steps to make it a leading women’s college in the State. The college has great potentiality and a vision set before it by its founders which need to be translated into reality. Thus in order to bring the institution closer to the objectives for which the institution has been created the following suggestions are made:
1. The institution is endowed with rich infrastructure, which requires better maintenance. The college may beautify the campus by planting trees and with extensive landscaping. The present vacant land may be used for this purpose and this can be achieved with a minimum investment, if necessary involving students.
2. The college should strive for autonomous status and expansion of curricular options through continued effort. Since DGGA College for women is the only women’s college in the region and was founded for promoting social justice, many funding agencies may support the cause of women’s education; the Management, the Principal and the faculty may endeavor to make this possible.
3. There is an acute shortage of teachers in many departments. The department of English, in spite of its limited faculty has been rendering excellent service. It is necessary that the government should recruit a few more teachers immediately for effective functioning of this department. It is imperative to develop good language skills, good communicative skills in English in the interest of career opportunities of the students. Therefore, the faculty of this department requires the additional support both from the government and the management in their laudable endeavour, in which they are involved at present.
4. In some core areas like physics and mathematics, the performance of the students needs to be improved. One of the major reasons for low success rate in these departments appears to be due to the shortage of faculty. Whatever be the constraints of the government and the bureaucratic procedures involved, there is need for strengthening these departments which are vital areas of learning under the modern curriculum. The Peer Team wishes to emphasize the significance of the knowledge of mathematics under the emerging educational scenario.
5. The faculty is not exposed to seminars and conferences sufficiently. This need has to be examined by the Management (which is virtually the government) in order to promote excellence in the institution. The updating of knowledge on the part of the faculty is an immediate and this cannot be ignored under any circumstances.
6. The college is located in an area where many families live close to the institution. The college can organize several community activities. These will go a long way to transform the backward neighborhood into a healthy and developed community.
7. The college should collaborate with other institutions for promoting research by organizing seminars, any by utilizing the service of experts. The present laboratories should be considerably improved by adding new equipment.
The Peer Team was impressed on the whole with the commitment and dedication of the Principal, the faculty and also the involvement of the government in promoting this institution into a centre of excellence in the future. The college has miles to go before it achieves fully its goal laid down at the inception of this institution, namely, promotion of higher education for women.