Ques.1- As an Educationalist, how do you compare the Indian education system to other countries?
Ans- The Indian education system predominantly focuses on the knowledge part and ignores creativity. The foreign education system provides space for more co-curricular and extracurricular aspects apart from the core areas of teaching and learning. In India, most students are not given a choice to select their field of interest. One must become an engineer or a doctor. Humanities, Sports, and Arts are considered leftovers if they do not get admission in the science or commerce and management streams. This scenario will be changed by introducing the new education policy in 2021.
Ques.2- What are the significant challenges in the education sector?
Ans- The biggest challenge is our inability to curate contemporary curriculum. We are still stuck offering our students good content a couple of decades ago, but it is irrelevant now. There is a lot of resistance from the teaching community to upgrade their knowledge.
Another challenge is that of creating a rubrics-based evaluation framework. Students’ performance in evaluation is primarily left to the whims and fancies of their teachers. Students are not aware of what they are being evaluated.
The third challenge is our inability to transition smoothly from in-class teaching to technology intermediated learning engagement. There is a huge generational gap between the teachers and the taught. Today’s students are digital natives and are therefore adept at using technology. Teachers must realize that they need to upskill themselves in classroom technologies immediately.
The fourth and final challenge is no sync between industry requirements and our syllabus. Year on year, the system churns out millions of students that lack the essential skills that the industry requires. This puts both the students and the industry at a disadvantage.
Ques.3- What are the significant challenges in management education?
Ans- In India, management education has made significant growth since its inception in the 1950s. By the mid-1960s, India became one of the leaders in management education; India has the second-largest number of business schools globally. However, the mushrooming of B-Schools in India led by globalization has resulted in intense competition among the B-Schools themselves, giving rise to many contemporary issues and challenges in the changing time affecting the quality of management education in the country. The significant challenges are (i). integration of management education with structure, (ii). up-gradation of curriculum and course content, (iii). designing customized programs for working professionals/executives, (iv). maintenance of practical and actionable research. There are also challenges in Indian business schools, such as changing mentality of students, lack of qualified faculties, issues of autonomy and accountability of institutions, relevance to the need of organizations other than mainstream, along with that growth, balancing global aspiration and local requirements, quality assurance, Sustaining scholarship and aligning with the future needs of organizations.
Ques.4- What qualities do you suggest for an individual to become a good student?
Ans- It’s a simple desire and willingness to learn. Nowadays, students are so engrossed in their phones even while in class that it becomes difficult for the teacher to engage them productively. Today’s students have way too many distractions. The day students behave like customers, things will likely change. Do you buy a ticket for your flight and not board it but loiter around in the airport? If the answer is NO, the same principle applies to education. Do you pay for your education and not receive it? Today’s students pay up for a service they do not wish to receive. This mindset has to change.
Students have to imbibe a reading culture. Every student should read at least 50-60 non-text/non-fiction books a year to build their knowledge repertoire. Unfortunately, there is no reading culture today, either among the students or the faculty. The more one reads, the more one can connect conceptual dots and better understand them.
Ques.5- What are the significant steps an institution must take to meet the industry’s expectations?
Ans- Industry partnerships are instrumental in advancing research and creating a skilled workforce. Industry gains work-ready talent with specialist knowledge and practical training, and the academic institutions benefit by having opportunities to work on relevant technologies and challenging problems. While the industry often focuses on addressing solutions of near-term commercial value and academia focuses on building new knowledge through research and imparting education to students, the combination can accelerate breakthroughs. As India ushers in the era of digitization, it is in the enviable position of having a tech-savvy young population ready to apply its learnings in crucial fields such as A.I. and Big Data to solve significant challenges facing critical industries like healthcare and energy.
This Interview is done with Prof. S. S. Prasada Rao, Director, Teaching & Learning Centre, Sharda University, Greater Noida.