CHENNAI: In a world where today’s technology is obsolete tomorrow, if employment is the focus of education, then institutions and their faculty are falling far behind.
Speaking during a session at the ThinkEdu Conclave on ‘Should Employment be the key focus of education’, experts highlighted the difference between premier institutions like IITs and IIMs and conventional colleges and said that the basic issue that results in poor employability is that conventional colleges don’t choose the problem-solving approach of teaching, and teachers in the affiliated college system don’t have accountability.
Uday Desai, Director, IIT-Hyderabad, highlighted how IITs are planning to evolve new modules of education to help the students keep pace with the industry requirements. “The education system is focusing only on employability in the present tense. This will become redundant as technology is changing at a rapid pace,” he said. He also highlighted how the IT industry is going through a crisis in middle management with the change in technology. IITs, thus, are planning several modules which will not be taught by a faculty member but a person from the industry.
Citing the example of how Estonia, a tiny nation, has been able to develop the spirit of entrepreneurship among its students, with their simple, ‘no red-tape’ approach to granting licences, he said India should take a leaf out of that country’s book. Some of the developers of online calling platform Skype are, incidentally, from Estonia, he said.
Deepak Phatak, professor of the department of CSE, IIT- Bombay, stressed on the need for sustainable employment and said that education should focus on inculcating entrepreneurial thought. Blaming the colonial rote-learning system, he pointed out, “Only four countries are following the colonial system of education. They include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.” He said the ethos of premier institutions like the IITs can be brought into conventional system. He also steered attention to IIT-Bombay’s project of an Open Source Courseware Animations Repository.
Krishnakumar Natrajan, Managing Director and CEO of MindTree, stressed on the need for building engineers of tomorrow who can solve and tackle problems, and advised educational institutions to stop focusing on the placements it gets its students, and instead strive to produce quality engineers.
Natrajan also said that there is need for faculty to work with enterprises and find what they need. The learning method needs to be different and should make use of relevant technology. S Vaidyasubramaniam, Dean (planning and development), SASTRA University, who chaired the session, highlighted the lack of recognition given to successful entrepreneurs. He also stressed the need to encourage entrepreneurs.
Lalitha Balakrishnan, Principal, MOP Vaishnav College, Chennai, said it was important to introduce value component subtly in the course component, as there is an erosion of principles when education is imparted solely to provide employment. “The focus of the education system is to stimulate the intellect and foster the spirit of entrepreneurship,” she said.