The legendary Harvard University president Drew Faust in her latest commencement address drew from psychiatrist R D Laing’s observation on the art of noticing, and that the range of our thought and action is limited by what we fail to notice. The sum and substance of her speech was that universities can become transformational change agents only if they are able to produce ‘noticers’. I only wish the committee re-constituted to frame the New Education Policy (NEP) doesn’t fail to notice that policy makers in the past have failed to notice the pressing need for certain transformational changes.
In The New Indian Express’s recently concluded ThinkEdu, I moderated the first session titled ‘What Should India’s New Education Policy be?’. The theme of ThinkEdu was Research, Innovation, Skills & Entrepreneurship (RISE) in Education and I limited my thoughts to RISE.
In the recently released Global Innovation Index rankings jointly done by Cornell University, INSEAD and World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), India moved from its previous ranking of 66 to 60 to make it into the top 50 per cent of global economies. Not only is the country’s rise notable and rapid globally but it also puts India atop amongst central and southern Asian nations. The Indian rise from 2015 after five years of decline is etched with India’s outperforming score of its innovation relative to its per-capita GDP. The report also records that innovations happening at grass-root levels are not captured enough for global rankings purpose.
The next logical step after innovation is to engage in meaningful research. Innovative ideas fail to create the disruption that it is capable of due to lack of coherent synergy in research. World renowned creative and innovation company IDEO defines innovation as the convergence of human desirability, technical feasibility and business viability. The convergence spot for these three can be identified through collaborative research which is not dominating Indian academia. Individual research universities in their ivory towers of research excellence are either disconnected from each other or try to do everything themselves. The need for innovation-driven research is the coming together of leading institutions of technology, business, social sciences, medicine, etc. to engage in collaborative research leading to the desired convergence.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent launch of Future Skills platform blends well with this government’s Skill India initiative. There are many functional and practising skills dominating rural India that are outside the formal school of thoughts, old or new. They need to be captured in making the old-no-new schools of thoughts a transformational skill agent for Skill India.
The recently released Global Entrepreneurship Monitor of London Business School puts India in the top 10 in many indictors of entrepreneurial advancements and points the need for focus in entrepreneurship programmes and post-school entrepreneurial education. However, the 2016 Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students’ Survey (GUESSS) by St Gallen University covering 1.22 lakh students from 1,000 universities across 50 countries ranks India number one in the incidence of nascent entrepreneurship. The New Education Policy needs to address many such transformational changes. RISE India needs a NICE New Education Policy.
Dean, Planning & Development, SASTRA University