Subramanyam Reddy, CEO and Founder, KnowledgeHut upGrad shares his views on opportunities and challenges of the education system in India with FE Education Online.
What is the best thing about today’s education system?
When it comes to today’s education system, much has changed over the recent past. Technology characteristically evolves to solve problems and being as pervasive as it is, brings in change for the better at the most fundamental level. Due to the pandemic, most people were forced to adopt technology at a faster pace. Beyond this, the general approach, in the past, has leaned towards a one-size-fits-all in terms of the teaching methodology and the subjects or skills taught. From that perspective, a lot has evolved, even the mode of delivery has become technology-led. One can say that technology has brought about a paradigm shift in the education system. It has become more efficient, inclusive, and accessible. The curriculum gets updated much faster reflect the current environment. This has enabled learners to become much more able to contextualize the world around them and apply their knowledge in a more effective manner.
What is the one thing you would like to change in the system?
Despite the changes taking place at scale, there is much to be desired in speed. The system overall is still quite slow in adapting to the world around us. Consider this, there are approximately 1.5 lakh students graduating college right now. A shocking majority of these graduates will require further skills training to be truly job ready. The current system does not train the learners in essential cognitive and behavioural skills that help them navigate the professional world. There’s much ground to cover regarding practical skills too. Insufficient industry exposure and little hands-on practice of their learnings also puts students in a position of disadvantage compared to their counterparts in the more developed parts of the world.
What is the role digital has played in the evolution of the education system?
In one word, accessibility. The advent of digital has revolutionised the education system in some of the most impactful ways imaginable. First and foremost, it has made education more accessible and inclusive. New Delhi’s public school system is a great example of this. The digital delivery of lessons across all grades has been an important factor in helping students retain more of what they learn. The audio-visual nature of the lesson delivery enables greater absorption of new concepts in learning, and the overall impact has been a significant reduction in drop-out rates at secondary and higher secondary level.
What has been the disadvantage of digital in education?
This is something we collectively witnessed during the pandemic and in the post-pandemic return to normalcy in the educational context – a greater reliance on digital also increased a sense of isolation and impacted the crucial developmental skills among children. For children and young adults, schools and colleges provide more than education. They are spaces in which people learn interpersonal skills such as collaboration and communication, which help them grow as individuals and professionals.
With digital, there is also a certain homogeneity in the content and delivery of lessons. The de-personalised experience strips the act of learning of the possibility of detours which often lead to interesting findings led by the learners’ curiosity. That is possibly one of the biggest drawbacks of digital, which, with time, is likely to be overcome with a greater involvement of AI in this field too.
What is the career advice you would like to give to students?
The important thing to remember is that you stand at a wonderful crossroads of change and opportunity. There’s a lot to explore and more avenues are available for you to learn and practice skills that will take you ahead in life. The learners of today enjoy more choice in subjects, skills, and ways of learning than say, a decade ago. STEM is no longer a field restricted by socio-cultural privilege or limited in its application. The boundaries between fields of study are thinning and you must allow yourself the freedom to explore multiple different paths, because there are no wrong choices.