Yajulu Medury, vice chancellor of Mahindra University shares his views on opportunities and challenges of the education system in India with FE Education Online.
1. What is the best thing about today’s education system?
Education has been embedded in the core beliefs of Indian culture, for the development of character in a child, and to achieve enlightenment through knowledge, while seeking salvation. The intellectual enrichment of children was always among the foremost priorities in Indian culture. The evolution of the Indian Education System can be segregated into three broad phases, namely:
The Vedic Education System
The Islamic Education System
The English Education System
The Indian School education system is the 11th largest in the world, with more than 100 million students enrolled in thousands of colleges and universities. Indian civilization is one of the oldest on the block and has always contributed significantly to the arena of knowledge, thanks to its varied cultural, geographical, and traditional backgrounds. India has always been a pioneer of the “Gurukul” system, in which the bond shared by the student and the teacher is something unique and special. Comprehensive development of the mind and the soul is observed best in this “holistic” approach to education. India is home to several vanguard educational institutions like IIT (Indian Institute of Technology), JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University), IIM (Indian Institute of Management), and the Tata Institutes. Study options in India are widely diversified in all fields of education. Unlike other developed countries in the world, knowledge is clubbed with the economy here and any student willing to explore the abundantly spread resources of education in the country can do so without spending exorbitantly.
2. Why is the right ecosystem essential for imparting quality education?
Today, it is very difficult to predict over half the expertise and skill sets that will be required in the next 5 years. The concept of lifelong learning will have to be embedded in the way we teach our youth. Over the years, through various initiatives, educational institutions have been made accessible all across the country. Now, the next stage would be to ensure that students remain enrolled, and learn — so that they become empowered and productive citizens, who can be the key participants in nation-building and growth-linked economic development.
To achieve this, an enabling ecosystem will have to be developed, which comprises of school premises along with facilities that are inviting for students, teachers who have a passion for their chosen vocation, pedagogy that transitions from rote learning to conceptual methods that can keep both teachers and students engaged and engrossed, among others.
3 measures that can enable the right ecosystem needed for imparting quality education are –
1. Maintained infrastructure
2. Quality of teaching and teachers
3. Extra-curricular activities
3. What is the one thing you would like to change in the system?
While there are many aspects that can be termed need of the hour when addressing gaps in the Indian education ecosystem, the following can be considered as key initiatives –
1. Initiatives like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, launched in 2001, seek to address the issue of school infrastructure, teacher quality and training, and filling vacancies. Even today, there is a long way to go.
2. As economic conditions improve and aspirations for a better future increase, families who have affordability power prefer to enroll their children in private schools — in the hope of a better learning outcome. Therefore, we need to urgently transform our education system to meet the aspirational needs of the new generation, which will ensure that India’s demographic dividend continues to remain its asset.
3. We will also need to ensure that a proper learning ecosystem is available across the length and breadth of the country, for the desired learning outcomes to be achieved.
5. Only investing in an educational institution’s premises is not enough – these will become centers of learning only if the students and teachers connect, and their interest in teaching and learning is enhanced using appropriate pedagogy.
6. There is an additional need to have monitoring procedures and processes in our schools, ensuring regular assessment of learning outcomes, followed by remedial measures being taken in a timely manner to address the shortcomings.
7. The recent initiatives of having smart classrooms in colleges could go a long way in addressing this need for an enabling ecosystem with features and facilities like digital content, broadcasting classes conducted by experienced teachers, interactive classes through video conferencing, etc.
4. What is the role digital has played in the evolution of the education system?
Technology continues to be a primary catalyst for change in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift to remote learning, overnight, for most higher-education students. Educational institutions and organizations are thinking beyond the pandemic to evolve new and existing digital capabilities and generate a modern technology framework. To complement video lectures and engage students in the virtual classroom, educators adopted technologies that enabled more interactivity and hybrid models of online and in-person activities. These tools changed learning, teaching, and assessment in ways that may persist after the pandemic.
Some technologies are lagging in adoption. Tools enabling student progress monitoring, AR/VR, machine learning–powered teaching assistants (TAs), AI adaptive course delivery, and classroom exercises are currently used by less than half of our universities. Despite the growing pains of digitizing the classroom learning experience, faculty and students believe there is a lot more they can gain. Faculty members are optimistic about the benefits, and students expect learning to stay entertaining and efficient. While adoption levels saw double-digit growth during the pandemic, many classrooms have yet to experience all the technologies.
Challenges facing the adoption of digital solutions in education:
1. Online student feedback is limited
2. E-Learning can cause social Isolation
3. E-Learning requires strong self-motivation and time management skills
4. Lack of communicational skill development in online students
5. Cheating prevention during online assessments is complicated
6. Online instructors tend to focus on theory rather than practice
7. E-Learning lacks face-to-face communication
8. E-Learning is limited to certain disciplines
9. Online learning is inaccessible to the computer-illiterate population
10. Lack of accreditation & quality assurance
5. What is the career advice you would like to give to students?
Though college is a great opportunity to learn life skills, it’s also a time when you’re surrounded by several resources and individuals ready to help you advance in your field. As a college student, taking career advice can help you feel more equipped upon graduation. It can also help you become more confident in your skills and ensure you’ve chosen the right field, as well as guide you toward making helpful career decisions.
Some tips for college students include the following –
Grow your skills and knowledge
Pursue your passion
Strive for excellence
Seek internship opportunities
Build your network
Attend career or internship fairs
Consider taking part in work-study programs
Find a balance between education and your personal life.