The UGC's Orders On Skill-Based Education Have Left Universities And Colleges Confused
Mera desh badal raha hai“ is a well-meaning tagline favoured by prime minister Narendra Modi, and all ministers have endorsed it. One can certainly see signs of change. But India is a huge country , and our issues are rather complex.
Education is a sector that's facing many challenges. However, for solutions, we need to first understand what the challenges are.
Today, with more than 600 universities, India's gross enrolment ratio in higher education is still around 24%.This can change only when the Right to Education succeeds.
Many believe In dia will soon face an “employability catas trophe.“ However, we still do not have any clarity on our demo graphic dividend (the freeing up of resourc es for a country's development as it switches from an agrarian to an industrial economy). The only way to face this challenge is to embrace “disruptive innovation“ -innovation that creates a new market.
Our higher education system aims to promote skill-based education, and the UGC has been issuing many orders to this effect. But these orders have only left colleges and universities confused.The central and state universities, standalone research institutions such as AEC, CSIR and DRDO, deemed universities, private state-level universities...are all going their own way .
Which is why the youths are the real losers here. They recognise the importance of new knowledge but want more than just fundamental education and training. The youths need to understand the effects that fundamental train ing and skills have on actual employment opportunities.
The new “Generation Learning“ demands technology-driven learning processes. It must go beyond classroom teaching and enhance the “knowledge boundaries“ of the learner. In “Generation Learning,“ application-oriented experience comes from fundamental baselines in a course. As a result, not only do students have a sound knowledge of fundamentals, they also acquire “industrial experience“ by interacting with the industry production experts.
The UGC has aggressively created degree programmes with vocational skills as a driving force. In fact, these steps were initiated in 2003, but the change of guard at the Centre -BJP losing and Congress winning the elections -meant the new government kept aside many good ideas of the older government, including the skill education measures. Finally, in 2016, the Bachelor of Vocational education got legal acceptance as a choice-based credit system. A student can move from a diploma to advanced diploma and finally to degree during the three-year learning process. This means a student can acquire a diploma and get some job. He she can return later for the second year of the course and get the advanced di ploma. The student can subsequently get a degree by finishing the third year of vocational education. This method provides openness and direct learning experience from the industry . One can also go for the Master's Degree and eventually think of entrepreneurship and incubation.
But though our teaching community continues to endorse fundamentals -which is a good thing -it shows no willingness to accept the ICT-driven, new education system.
Meanwhile, colleges are most willing to talk of the “skills“ through wonderful advertisements. For them, it is another way to strengthen their financial position and project new social identity.But education delivery by teachers does not match the advertisements.
Today, one must try to enhance the students' ability to convert fundamentals into application. Students are also more comfortable if a teacher uses just the classroom to impart knowledge. The teacher may look online for further examples (from across the world) to illustrate points better. This will help students become application-oriented individuals, even while learning from global experiences.
Therefore, my teacher friends, please do not reject change. The youths are in need of future academic leaders.
The writer is former chairman, UGC, a former VC of Pune University and founder director , NAAC.