Sunday, 15 January 2017

ReThink India - Visionary Eduleaders of India

PROF (DR) PREM VRAT
PRO-CHANCELLOR, PROFESSOR OF EMINENCE & CHIEF MENTOR,
THE NORTHCAP UNIVERSITY
GURUGRAM

Personal Vision for the Institution Headed Last

As Vice Chancellor of ITM University (now The NorthCap University) during 2011-2014, a number of transformational initiatives were taken which were intended to bring in research culture in a private university, which in general is handicapped due to lack of research support from the industry and the government.
  • Vision, Mission and Core Values of the university were established.
  • Faculties mentoring scheme, 
  • Flexible timings, 
  • 360 degree like faculty performance appraisal system, 
  • VC innovation fund
  • Recognition of best teachers,
  • Researchers on 5th September each year were some of those initiatives.
  • Attracting, retaining good faculty was priority area for my attention.
E-governance,zero tolerance against delays on academic deliverables, extensive inspirational meetings with faculty;benchmarking with best practices of better known institutions were attempted andit made a visible impact of ITM (now NCU)’s brand equity.

Set up an Academic Advisory Board comprising of some most well-known and eminent persons fromthe academic, scientific and industrial world gave us a powerful Think Tank as our direction indicator.Leveraging locational advantage and transparent systems, more collaborations were established.
 
How Prof PremVrat likes to see India’sEducational System unfurling and playing a lead role in defining & determining the national discourse?

Indians are extremely intelligent people. Its demography is also favorable to pay rich demographic dividends. Indian parents can do whatever sacrifices it takes to afford a quality education to their wards.These are positive environmental factors to nurture Indian education system.If we do not convert the demographic dividend by ensuring 100% employability to our young population, it may become demographic disaster.

We need to match brilliant minds with equally brilliant mindsets to impart 100% global employability.This can transform the development agenda of the country. It will produce outstanding individuals; scientists, engineers, doctors and others who will contribute to India’s growth and development and also be sought after globally to support other economies of the world.Thus focusing on creating world standard education and producing great minds who are also great human beings can put India into the category of ‘vishwa-guru’ once again.

We also need to shed Macaulay mindset by over-recognizing foreigners and ignoring scholars of comparable caliber who chose to remain in India.
 
Prof. PremVrat’s candid evaluation of the direction & demeanor of the current disposition and his objective critiques & suggestions for improvement across the spectrum

Current scenario of education at all levels- primary, secondary and tertiary is far from being quality driven, learning-centric, affordable and employability oriented. In number terms-particularly the technical education it has grown almost exponentially but its quality has taken a back seat.Commercialization of education has attracted huge private equity participation but due to lack of perceived quality and employability it is now experiencing a boomerang effect. Enrolments in engineering and management schools have gone down to the level of where it was in 2008.

Prof. PremVrat has written extensively on different occasions to control this decay to avoid major catastrophic outcomes in higher education. Undue focus on monetary/profitability issues in private owned institutions and apathy on the part of stakeholders in publicly funded institutions are a cause of concern. Over-regulatory approaches rather than nurturing, mentoring, hand holding and facilitatingrole of regulators is aggravating the situation further.

Education in India is in the need of major surgery if the demographic dividend potential is to be realized- sooner than later.

Teacher has to be made the fulcrum to leverage quality in education. A great inspiring teacher-at all levels of education can transform the future of society.

Teachers can’t be considered as employees but important contributors to the nation building process.

Being an IITian of 54 years standing which symbolizes excellence; Prof. PremVrat has prescribed the role of teacher as ‘IIT’: Involve Inspire and Transform.

Thus great inspiring teachers are critical success factors in quality education. An inspiring teacher can do wonders to the class in the talent nurturing process provided they love the job that they do.It is only possible if society creates environment when the best and the brightest of the society joins teaching and research as a preferred career option.Right now it is the other way round. To reverse this trend is a major socio- economic challenge.

There is currently an acute shortage of great inspiring and dedicated teachers in the country.In US/Canada, there is no age of retirement of a teacher. In our country due to policy paradox, even talented teachers retire on attaining a particular age –which should actually be no more than a number. Yet there is 25-30% of faculty shortage in even India’s most elite institutions. Thus talent shortage and talent wastage due to ‘expiry date on talent’ are happeningsimultaneously which does not happen in the best systems in the developed world.

We could therefore benchmark the best practices of reputed universities worldwide.We should also provide a level playing field between government funded and privately funded institutions.In USA, some of the best universities are in the private sector.We should also correct the distorted priorities in educational management in private or even publicly owned institutions.The correct priority in our opinion is- quality of faculty;quality of teaching-learning process; quality of academic leadership; quality of admissions;quality of infrastructure, alumni relations collaborations with academia and industry;focus in sports and cultural events in that order as ranking.

Any distortion in these priorities must be corrected if Indian education system is to excel.

Even world class buildings with mediocre faculty will not result in excellence.

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