From weaving dreams to diagnosing deficiencies, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee made a significant departure on Tuesday.
For once, rattling off rosy numbers took a backseat as the chief minister preferred looking at the problems and their possible solutions to maintain the momentum of growth in the information technology (IT) sector.
Bhattacharjee was speaking at the inauguration of a two-day conference on 'higher technical education in West Bengal: prospects and issues'.
'Most of the instructors teaching IT and computer science in private colleges do not have the necessary qualifications. This is a serious problem,' said Bhattacharjee during his address, attended by Subir Raha, chairman, ONGC, among others.
The conference is organised by the state higher education department with the objective of identifying problems in the technical education system and working out solutions.
Backing his fears with figures, Bhattacharjee referred to the impending shortfall of manpower in the IT industry.
According to him, the annual demand for IT professionals will go up to 58,000 within a year, but the 52 engineering colleges in the state can throw up only 8,280 graduates annually.
'We cannot produce more IT engineers if our institutes lack in basic facilities, like laboratories, libraries and good teachers,' he said, while urging officials and representatives from academia to work out a solution.
H.P. Dikshit, chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), also expressed concern over this nationwide trend of 'less-qualified' teachers being appointed to private technical colleges.
'We will cancel affiliation if the colleges fail to conform to the standards,' he warned, adding that AICTE has issued a circular asking the institutes to adhere to norms regarding qualification of teachers.
Bhattacharjee mentioned the long-term measures his government is considering to tackle problems like limited supply of quality teachers and infrastructure bottlenecks at technical institutes.
'We will set up a centre of excellence for training IT teachers,' announced the chief minister, adding that the government had sealed a deal with Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries in this connection.
For upgrading facilities in the engineering institutes of the state, Bhattacharjee said the World Bank had already sanctioned Rs 153 crore to be utilised for developing '11 institutes, including three universities'.