The response to my previous post on Steve Jobs has been overwhelming. The responses seeked suggestions, so I decided to actually provide suggestions to actually make the system better. In all fairness, the solutions are mere suggestions since implementation is a complex process.
The curriculum or the syllabus for students in our country in higher education (mainly engineering colleges) is outdated in most cases. It is stale, dogmatic and teaches things that the world has moved on with. To infuse dynamism, you need the curriculum to be progressive in nature. People need to be given the option of doing multiple courses in the first year and allowed to choose what they want after the first semester or year. The spirit of curriculum should be projects driven not exams driven, it should be innovation driven and it should evolve not stay stagnated. Exams need to be there to measure but they should be complimented with incentives for innovation (say Final Exams should be 50% and the projects should be 50%). The projects should have independent people who judge them not just faculty in place.The students should also be given the option to switch over to other streams if they feel so or if they justify the basic criteria. When I mean streams, practically speaking it should be very easy within Engineering and slightly harder to shift to say a Commerce course (this is assuming it’s a full-fledged university with all these courses).For all this to happen, you need young and dynamic faculty sitting on the academic syllabus boards, that’s where the next issue pops up
Make the Teachers feel worthy, pay them more:
The academic curriculum board, in most cases is filled with people above their 60’s and 70’s. With all due respect to them, I strongly feel that you need a bunch of younger professors in there to have that mix of experience and youth in the system. The younger ones would be more in sync, more in line with the technological changes and the new age needs of the students in their years to come. The fact, however, is that most of the younger professors are either outcasts (from the IT factory) or are doing this job because they don’t have better things to do. Very few among the young are actually in teaching for the sake of teaching. The point is very simple; they are paid pittens in comparison with the rest. A graduating student earns more in an IT company than what a Lecturer or even a Assistant Professor earns in some colleges (despite the 6th Pay commission increase which covers only on the Government colleges). Once you start paying more, you get quality faculty in, you get people who actually want to teach and people who are worth the caliber of teaching. After this, you will have a scenario where you have quality young people who can actually give the 60’s and 70’s in the curriculum boards a run for their money and there wouldn’t be any excuses. So where would the money come in from?
Make the Private Institutes for profit, not non-profit:
This might sound like a ludicrous suggestion but if you think about it, it might make some sense. We all know that private colleges make money and they are run as large businesses. The solution, I feel, lies in making them take away the non profit status and make them competitive. Make them under direct competition with each other so that they can get fight it out openly rather that doing so under the carpet. We cant follow the English education system and yet sit in our holy grail of non profit, can we? Education is a business in some form, the more we hide behind it, and the more corruption would step in. If Educational institutes are using this business to improve their system, then let them do it, that’s how world class universities abroad work and that’s how we should work if we follow the colonial system. The best way forward is to make them “for” profit, taxable and it would increase capital for them as well as increase transparency for us.
Industry Interaction a Placement Obligation:
One of the key pillars in growth in education is the level of industry interaction with the students. Companies should be sought out for such interactions, if they don’t agree to it, then the universities should use their advantage. When companies come for placements, there should be a basic qualification criteria for their eligibility for the placements. For example, they should have contributed investment worth 2 to 4 lakhs (just example, this can vary up or down) in R and D with the university to be eligible to come to placement. Most of the companies would fall in line automatically since for them human capital is much more important than these meager sums of money. You think any IT company would care about a few lakhs when they are recruiting 600 to 1000 people? When you provide so much human(s) capital you think they would ignore it? Not a chance, this would make the university utilize its human potential to the hilt and also enhance its industry interaction numbers significantly. Eventually, this investment would enhance the learning experience of the student and make him want to give back to the institutes more once that person graduates
Use the power of the Alumni:
One of the most underrated potentials in Indian education system is the power of the Alumni. Barring the IIT’s and few other top institutes, the concept of Alumni networking is nonexistent. In an era where every Indian graduating is earning somewhere, alumni networks need to be very well intertwined with the university affairs. Alumni are very eager to give; just that a) they don’t know who to give b) they are worried about where the money would go. Once you establish a credible network which is transparent, it would give the avenue as well as the confidence for the alumni to contribute in terms of money or academic expertise
All of the above are just mere suggestions to tackle system that has numerous issues. These suggestions might not break the deadlock or create a revolution by any means but it can be something that can be incorporated. These suggestions might not be relevant to some. These suggestions might also sound farfetched but if it at least one of them adds value somewhere to the education system, then it’s worth it