Interview : Dr Hari Krishna Maram Chairman Vision Digital India

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1. How does ‘achieve beyond expectations’ apply to higher education today?

Ans: Today Indian Higher Education system is the world’s largest with 985+ universities, 39,500 colleges, 2,98,700 schools with closely 37 crore student population. The reality is still no Indian Higher Education institution is able to reach world class institutions or even in top 200 rank globally.
To achieve beyond expectation we have to work hard to meet the expectation of all the stake holders of the system by giving value for the time, money and industry- ready students.

2. Do you think the draft NEP 2019 is poised to help students as well as the industry achieve beyond expectations? If no, why? If yes, please elaborate.

Ans: Draft in NEP is very well drafted and answers pertinent questions for a robust education policy. However, all of this will be of no use if there is no implementation on the ground. The crux of the matter is implementation. Vision without action is a shallow thought. One of the fundamental aspects to achieve the NEP goals is quality of teachers. Perhaps having a strong minimum wage policy along with qualification can bring rigor.

3. What do you think have been the major flaws in education policy in the past decades? Do you think NEP 2019 is attempting to address at least some of them?

Ans: National Education Policy ignores the ground realities of research quality in higher educational institutions but sets enormous goals for the country. The policy envisages that all higher education in India will become multi-disciplinary by 2030. The new education plan will give us graduates who are creative and adapt in critical thinking. Their multi-disciplinary training will ensure that they always remain employable even as single-disciplinary jobs become automated.
We have numerous private universities that offer bad quality academic training but do great advertising claiming a great placement record but in reality only 5-10% students will be getting good salary and great company. The real story is that most of them are understaffed in terms of faculty and the quality of existing faculties is poor. The learning outcome is truly terrible.

4. Education in India has focused on learning of facts all these years. William Butler Yeats wrote: “Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire.” What sort of changes in the system do you recommend to switch over to training of the mind to think?

Ans: My belief:
Good education is about encouraging the student’s natural tendency to explore, experiment and experience. It is about igniting the fire that will spread light globally.

5. Malala Yousafzai wrote: “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.” In India where more than 60 kids are taught by one teacher (sometimes, only a part-time replacement) and where book stores are closing faster than you’d want to believe, do you think real education is even possible?

Ans: Technology is going to play a very important role in classroom teaching in future. In this Google era, “Guru” role is becoming tough because all the information today is available in Google search. Then why students need to attend the class and learn from Guru. To overcome this, Guru should become smarter than Google.

6. You have completed a course from IGNOU as well. We know that open universities, correspondence courses, and even weekend classes are not powerful enough to teach and our students are not willing enough to learn. In such a scenario, do you think it will be wiser to have ONLY regular options in higher education? Do you agree to the ‘limit seats only where merit demands’ concept?

Ans: The issue is not about a choice between Open University and regular university. IGNOU is by far a very high quality university than most regular universities. The issues is about the quality of curriculum and execution excellence be it open or regular universities. The future is online and executive education. Globally leading universities already are making huge enrollments with good revenues in India and also it will be having a great future for the convenience and economy to the students.

7. When I recommended B.Voc in automobile engineering to a student, his father angrily told me that he wouldn’t want his son to be a roadside mechanic. Do vocational courses have a long and tough fight ahead? What is the best way to promote our vocational courses?

Ans: One example is that many of them don’t represent the entire industry. The vocational courses are very effective and there is a need for trained staff in the industry. Skill based programs are most popular across the world because this will create immediate opportunity unlike degrees but still in India, we believe degree is more important than skills. The future is skill based programs especially in India where we are unable to provide jobs to youth which is largest in the world. So only skill based programs can able to save our nation.

8. College is for partying and a vacation for both students as well as teachers. Does this effectively sum up the education system in India as it exists today?

Ans: Unfortunately social and emotional skills are not taught in schools and colleges. Incidentally most organizations choose candidates for their attitude and character. In India lack of emotional hygiene and mental well-being is an epidemic. Everyone in the industry and society complains lack of civic sense, social responsibilities, negativity and permission in the society but there is no effort towards building right skills. A focused approach on developing skills for emotional, social and mental well-being can not only mitigate most of these issues but also gives overall development.

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