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Permanent system of teaching & conduct of exams through distance mode is necessary for pharmacy courses: Experts

Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai
Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic challenges that engulf the whole system of education in the country, the educators and policy makers of pharmacy education should mull over a method of permanent system of teaching and conducting examinations through distance mode using computer and internet.

This will be useful for the institutions and the students even in future if any pandemic like Covid-19 or any other calamity occurs. In the last two years it has been proven that distance education through online mode is valid and useful for students of all educational courses, academic experts feel.

Programmes in pharmaceutical sciences are taught in distance mode in the western countries and in the USA, even Pharm D is also there in the list of non-traditional online courses. So, it is high time for the pharmacy education policy makers to think of a shift from the conventional method of classroom instruction to a distance teaching method. In the case of practical lessons, students can be brought in to the labs for necessary classes, comments Dr KG Revikumar, former HoD of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the pharmacy college at Thiruvananthapuram.

Dr Revikumar, who was a student at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) way back in 1960s, says that the significance of conventional system of physical instruction and classroom learning has exhausted and become impractical and unfeasible for all programs of higher education. Pharmacy course is not an exception which can also be brought under it. BHU conducted the distance education (BS pharmacy) through various study centres and it was a big success. It was in 1990 the PCI stopped the distance education of pharmacy courses citing reason that it was a practical oriented course, and class room teaching and laboratory classes were necessary.

“Focus is needed on distance education rather than the conventional system of physical instruction, so the educators should be prepared to shift from the traditional method to an online mode of teaching. Distance education in pharmacy curriculum is not a novel idea in India as in the beginning of pharmacy education in the country, the Banaras Hindu University used to conduct several courses through the system of correspondence course supported by various study centres. Practicals were limited to necessary portions and they were conducted in college labs. Now it is time for the educators to think over in reviving the system with the help of new technology,” says Dr Revikumar.

Dr Mihir Kumar Kar, an academic expert and president of pharmacy teachers association in Odisha (APTI), says that distance mode of teaching has to be developed for the pharmacy education although it is primarily practical oriented as it will be useful in future provided some adversities happen. But he said class room teaching only will give full knowledge and expertise to the students on the subject. He further said the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) is planning something to bring out a digital mode of teaching and learning in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

While agreeing that online teaching method is good for the continuance of education, Dr Mohan Kale, principal and professor at the KGRD College of Pharmacy in Raigarh in Maharashtra, says that the possibility of distance learning lies only in periods like Covid pandemic or outbreak of such other pandemics. Pharmacy education is not meant for doing through online, but such a system can be thought of considering the present situation whose culmination is unpredictable. According to him, teaching of pharmaceutical subjects requires a lot of explanations and demonstrations which all cannot be done through virtual mode. Lab work is a part of the course and it cannot be avoided.


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