India’s educational awakening

Feb 10 2014, 14:12 IST
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SummaryWhat exactly is hindering Indian universities to become world-class?

in some other branch, which de-motivates them.

There is another category of students whose expectations about the institutes become very high due to the hype created by the media and the society at large, but after joining they find that the quality of infrastructure is ordinary and the academic system not challenging enough—again de-motivating them.

The situation is further aggravated as the quality of teaching at all levels (elementary, secondary and tertiary) has not improved over the years. The existing teaching-learning process at the undergraduate level is not up to the mark. We still follow the age-old techniques of teaching, have failed to understand the impact of technology on young minds and have not reoriented our teaching methodology to attract them towards the subjects. We are not growing inquisitive minds. Encouragement to independent thinking, which contributes in innovation and research, is missing. The undergraduate education does not prepare students to get attracted to choose research as a career option. Many students, who are genuinely interested in research, do not think that proper environment is available in Indian universities and go abroad.

For any academic institution to go up on the ranking scale requires to be research-focused and for that it needs to have a large supply of quality research scholars at PhD level. In the absence of sufficient number of genuinely interested and motivated research scholars, the universities are unable to produce excellent research outputs. Moreover, since in most Indian institutions research has been linked to career growth, people tend to prefer easy-going researches which require lesser creativity. There are a few social-related reasons for not being able to attract students towards research.

Hence, if the Indian institutions aspire to produce high quality research and also to enter into the list of the best in the world, serious efforts have to be made at various levels. Starting from school education, the course curriculum needs to be redesigned so as to create inquisitiveness in the mind of the students, which will only happen if research component is introduced at the elementary levels. This is a long drawn process. To improve the supply of good quality students for research, undergraduate education has to be strengthened. The social mindset will only change if the PhD scholars are compensated well and their efforts are adequately recognised.

AK Sarkar is senior professor, Dept of Civil Engineering;

SK Choudhary is associate professor, Dept of Humanities and Social Sciences. Birla Institute of

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