One of the most commendable opportunities that stem from the National Education Policy (NEP) is the chance for universities and colleges to incorporate entrepreneurship into their curriculum. If this is done in a meaningful manner, it has the potential to provide impetus to the nation’s economy in a fairly short period of time.
My assertion is based on several examples from the Delhi University during 2013-15. I speak of the success stories that happened at the Cluster Innovation Centre (CIC) of the university that was set up by us in 2011.
At the CIC, we had designed three full-fledged degree programmes that had all the distinctive and defining features of the NEP, and are running successfully to date. The first of these offers a four-year B.Tech degree that incorporates innovation in tandem with mathematics and IT. The learning happens in a significant way through projects that are connected to the real world.
Students work in groups on very specific problems. The teacher plays the role of an active participant who is willing to be a learner as also a mentor. Let me illustrate with some interesting examples of this kind of knowledge gained through project-based learning.
A bunch of first-year students from the programme worked on a project to develop data-based insights connected to the world of finance. In the process, the students acquired some interesting knowledge and skills. Within a few months of working on the project, and while still in their second year, the students set up a data-based startup.
That allowed them to gain some valuable credit for their degree. It was not important for the startup to succeed. What was relevant was that the students had gained knowledge through action. In addition, the startup had the potential to add to the economy. The best part of this story is that this particular startup has now grown into a multi-million-dollar enterprise.
Lest the impression has been created that this is one isolated example, let me hasten to clarify that there are several others. And not all of them are based on the technology of high order or are part of the B.Tech programme. We set up the first and only meta-university programme in India in mathematics education and the first batch of students chose mostly to set up startups or join some established ones with the high-order learning that they had acquired in the programme.
This can and has happened in many situations across several colleges of Delhi University. India needs this in large measure across the length and breadth of our land, and the NEP shows the way.
Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University; Adjunct Professor of Mathematics, University of Houston, US