The 16th Annual Convention of the Association of Pharmaceutical Teachers of India (APTICON 2011) has expressed concern over the waning popularity of pharmacy education in India and demanded that academic and administrative efforts should be initiated to bring reforms and changes in the sector, keeping in pace with the emerging trends in the field of pharmacy.
The convention was held from 7-9 October 2011 at ISF College of Pharmacy, Moga in Punjab. The theme of the convention was “Re-Framing Pharmacy Education through Need Based Approach.”
While delivering the presidential address, Dr P G Yeole, president of APTI has unambiguously conceded that the pharmacy education in the country is passing through a difficult phase and the time has come to explore avenues of improving the situation. He said a full and critical voice is needed to shape the future of pharmacy education so as to enhance its quality and relevance. Citing assessments of experts in pharmacy education, he said in all the states across the country almost 25 per cent to 35 per cent of seats for Bachelor of Pharmacy are unoccupied. This acknowledges the fact that B Pharm seats are in surplus of its demand. In the whole of the country, there are more than 1000 pharmacy colleges functioning and out of which 500 colleges have come up during the last a few years, he said.
The case of post graduate course is not much different. As per the current norms of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), an educational institution can directly commence PG courses. This indicates that M Pharm courses may also reach a level of saturation soon. Even though the mushrooming of pharmacy colleges was an indication of the growing demand for pharmacy professionals in the country, it has now come to a stage where there are not enough takers for UG and PG courses. So many self-financing colleges that sprouted in the past five years are now on the verge of closure for want of students, Dr Yeole said.
Dr Yeole, who is also the principal of Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, Borgaon, Wardha, said rapid increase in the number of pharmacy colleges, unaffordable fees and poor future prospects are some of the factors due to which the profession has lost its charm. There is not much demand for pharmacy graduates in the industry as even science graduates can also do the same job with a few weeks’ training. According to him the standard of pharmacy education is deteriorating because of lack of qualified and well trained staff and infrastructure. He said APTI is contemplating over bringing out a white paper on pharmacy education in the country.
Many fresh post graduates without proper orientation for teaching and without acquiring necessary communication skills are being recruited as faculty members by the colleges across the country. The freshly recruited teachers are required to be exposed to the integral components of teaching – learning methodology, he appealed to the pharmacy teachers assembled in the convention.
APTICON 2011 was inaugurated by Prof S S Gill, vice-chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot. Prof. Harkishan Singh, Professor Emeritus, Punjab University, Chandigarh, delivered keynote address. Around 1200 pharmacy teachers across the country participated in the event.