As anticipated by the organisers of World Shipping Forum-2013, the panel discussion on “Maritime Education & Training – An outlook towards the future,” drew good response and gave birth to several suggestions for improvement.
Though ideas like completely delinking MET from the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) and setting up a different and dedicated governing body for it and viability of Commercially Trading Training Ship for cadets’ onboard training raised eyebrows of many present over there, such suggestions have rekindled the hope that they are indeed at a critical juncture from where treading needs more cautiousness.
Capt. S. Bhardwaj, Emeritus Professor & former Vice- Chancellor, AMET University, set the ball rolling for the allimportant panel discussion by outlining the need for such open debate on MET.
Initiating the discussion, Mr. Gautam Chatterjee, Director General of Shipping, said: “We need a proper estimation of global demand for seafarers. I will call upon professional bodies of master mariners and marine engineers to play a proactive role in policy combinations while maintaining a data base of resource personnel for maritime training. And also help me arrive at proper information about maritime education.”
After pondering over different points for the improvement of maritime education and training put forward by numerous speakers, jury for the panel discussion came out with their observation on the whole proceedings.
Taking note of the observation that more thrust should be given to training rather than maritime education, Dr. G. Raghuram, Vice-Chancellor of Indian Maritime University, and one of the jury for the discussion, said: “I am very clear that we have to think of education, because education is the key and that is our moral responsibility.”
He also added that there should be more scope for research for the faculties in maritime education, so that students can get opportunities to know the latest updates in the sector.
Driving home the message at the panel discussion, Dr. R. Lakshmipathy, President of RL Institute of Nautical Sciences (RLINS), Madurai, and one of the jury for the lively debate, strongly suggested that the entire system of education and training should be taken out of the purview of the Directorate General of Shipping, which is controlling the maritime education along with other important responsibilities concerning shipping.
Dr. Lakshmipathy stated: “Maritime education and training is one among the 10 primary responsibilities for the Directorate General of Shipping and going by the pre-occupation, DGS can spend only about 10 per cent of its time for improving it. In 1997, when private players were allowed to set up maritime training institutions, there were only four institutes. But there are nearly 140 institutes now and sparing only 10 per cent time means the DGS can only do a policing job (on them) and not any constructive job to improve quality of education could be carried out.”
Hence, he pointed out, there is a pressing need for a separate Directorate for maritime education and training to improve quality standards of maritime education.”
He added: “We need technocrats to head the Directorate at the national level to man the entire system like the Directorate of Technical Education. Continuous monitoring can be achieved by a dedicated team of authorities whose 100 per cent concentration will be available on day-to-day basis for the cause of maritime education and training.”
“The second important point for improving competency in maritime education is to introduce latest technology and developments into the syllabus. It was designed some 14 years ago and we are still following it. The syllabus must be defined to meet the industry need and revised periodically to bring it on par with international scenario,” he opined.
Recording his views at the panel discussion as one of the jury, Mr. J. Ramachandran, Chairman, AMET University, noted: “I would like to focus on sea-time, which is a very grave issue now. I request the forum to form a committee of top maritime bodies and institutions to immediately look into the seatime issue. I have got three proposals for solving the sea-time problem. Already we have ships running between Andaman and mainland (Chennai, Kolkatta and Vizag). Since these ships have more than 1000 berths (I each ship), about 200 berths can be converted and they can be given to cadets for sea-time training,” Mr. Ramachandran felt.
Dr. (Mrs.) Sujata Naik Tolani, Vice Chairperson, Tolani Maritime Institute Governing Council, and one of the jury, observed that there is a disconnect about maritime education and onboard jobs with the latest generation. She also urged the maritime educationists to introspect on what has gone wrong in inculcating best maritime education to the cadets.
At the end, organisers assured the participants of the panel discussion that all of their observations ould be recorded into a document and pursued with the Government authorities for early solution.
More than 200 delegates, including from abroad, attended the discussion and hailed it as a step in the right direction.