Of Changing K-Campus, Women Education: In Conversation with Dr Seema Naz

Dr. Seema Naz.

ON an icy November morning in Srinagar’s Government College of Education, Dr. Seema Naz’s spirits are high as she marshals her staff and students with an effortless executive expertise.

The institution-insights have been a hallmark of her progressive career. As a symbol of woman empowerment, the educationist has been heralding a campus change as head of Kashmir’s top institute.

“Things related to education have improved a lot in Kashmir,” Dr. Naz, Principal Govt College of Education, tells me in a freewheeling chat. “We now have around 142 colleges and 12 universities. Students should avail the opportunities and they are doing very well.”

Back in the day, the woman-in-command continues as she keeps a hawkish gaze on the campus affairs, there was no Psychology course at Kashmir University. “But today there’s a total revamp in our education system and technology has also been integrated,” she asserts. “Apart from new universities and colleges, a number of new programmes have also come up. The infrastructure in our colleges and universities has improved.”

During student address.

But how did you become part of this campus change?

Well, it began with my formative education from Presentation Convent School. At that point, it was the best school for girl education.

After completing my schooling, I did my graduation from Women’s College M.A Road. I was very much interested in studying Psychology but back then Kashmir University did not have a Psychology Department. I had secured very good marks in my graduation and sought admission in Bombay University. I did specialization in Clinical Psychology there. After that I got married and had to leave Bombay and came back to Kashmir.

After that I got selected through Public Service Commission and was first appointed as Assistant Professor Psychology at Women’s College Baramulla and was later posted at Nawa Kadal College.

Following that, I taught at B.Ed College for 23 years. During my service there, I completed my B.Ed and M.Ed through distance mode and did my Ph.d in Education from the Kashmir University.

In 2018, I was placed as Principal B.Ed College, where teacher education has been part of my personality.

Evaluating student creative progress.

How was the education scenario in Kashmir when you were coming of age as an educationist?

Well, at that time, girl education was already in progress in Kashmir. We studied at the best of the colleges. The support system was there, like in my case, my father who retired as a Chief Engineer was very interested in his daughters’ education. Both my sisters were doctors and my brother was in the United States. So, education was very much prioritized in our family regardless of gender.

Later, when I got married, I was never stopped by my in-laws from studying and from availing opportunities. We were focused in our education and were brought up according to morals and values.

But what change did you find once you became head of a campus?

I always found eagerness and sense of participation in Kashmiri students. I tried to channelize that spirit in a right direction as a Psychology teacher. This student-centric made me a very popular teacher.

Students would come up to me with their problems. If you would ask me to make choices between being an administrator and a teacher, I would say I love being a teacher. As a teacher, you make connections with students. I’ve always enjoyed and cherished being a teacher.

Marshalling staff as Principal Govt College of Education.

But what motivated you to get into the field of education in the first place?

It was my father who motivated me for education. Apart from giving me a good education, he brought me up with good values and morals.

Later, my learned upbringing and institution shaped me a person and professional. I’ve learned a lot working with my colleagues.

As a progressive woman, how did you see changes in women education over the years?

What I have been observing from the last many years is that the number of girls in the class outnumbers boys. Their regularity, punctuality and their motivational level is way better. If girls secure education, our whole society will get educated.

I think girls are very hard working and are progressing in every field. With reference to education, girls are very focused on education and jobs.

Being a woman myself, I tell girls to come to our college and try to provide them with the best of opportunities. I try my level best to secure the future of our students by helping them in the best possible way.

Govt College of Education.

Now that you’re at the helm of affairs, what changes have you brought to evolve education in Kashmir?

Well, we have initiated a lot of changes in the college. You must be knowing about National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The policy has come after 34 years and it has transformed education.

In the past, digital initiatives were not there. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, our classes were held online and we integrated them in our education system.

There has been a total shift in pedagogy. The old teaching methods did not work and will not work anymore.

Our institution is a teacher training college. We put an emphasis on integrating new initiatives that is the main job of this college. We have knitted ourselves in technology. Technology has gone into teaching and evaluation and the whole teaching mechanism has been revamped.

As per NEP 2020, we are moving into a multidisciplinary perspective and trying to integrate skill programmes as well. As it’s said, change is gradual. We try to sustain good quality work.

Dr. Naz with students from different streams.

But since a lot of new campuses have come up during the last two decades, how has it shaped the overall educational scenario in Kashmir?

See, education at any place has to be driven by quality. No doubt, a number of new colleges have come up and every effort is being made to make education available at doorsteps.

At the same time, quality and quantity are two different things. I think quality should be the number one parameter. Students should be given quality education.

Apart from new universities and colleges, a number of new programmes have also come up. The infrastructure in our colleges and universities has also improved.

In J&K, there are around 142 colleges and 12 universities. So, things have changed for the good. Students should avail the opportunities and they are doing very well.

But how has your parent college responded to this campus change?

It’s a very old college. In its inception, it was a school. It was known as teacher training college. It was famously known as TT College.

After TT College it was changed to B. Ed College. At that point in time, the college had only one course that was B.Ed. programme. It was a one year course. After that, M.Ed programme was started.

In 2014, the administration changed the nomenclature and duration of B.Ed. and M.Ed courses from one to two years.

In 2016, a team from MHRD visited the college and they suggested the college be changed into a research institute.

In 2017, a formal government order was issued and it was named IASE. In the same year, Cluster University was formed and our college was merged into Cluster University. It became a constituent college and we started M.A Education. And after that we started three Integrated B.Ed M.Ed programmes.

So, in terms of growth, the college has grown in all spheres. It is good for the students as the campus has been accredited “A” by the NAAC team.

Dr. Naz during campus event.

At this age and achievement, how do you see your campus career?

Well, I have had a beautiful journey of life. Every year we are joined by new students and others leave. In my opinion, every year is a learning and a memorable experience.

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Syed Mohammad Burhan

Syed Mohammad Burhan has Masters in Mass Communications and works as City Reporter at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @syedmohammad313

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