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March 29th, 2018 at 10:22 am

Education: getting a degree might not be everything

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A lot of kids at age 17 or 18 are often not clear, about what career would fit them best. Add to that is a changing world, that would make things even more confusing. The job opportunities that exist now were absent ten years ago and so it is quite likely that what you train for now might not be enough sooner or later.

At one point degrees were the sole motivating factor for higher education. There was prestige in the number of degrees you ‘gathered’ or what degree, for that matter, you attained. Although degrees continue to be relevant, somehow they no longer are a defining factor for some jobs at the entry level.

Children today need to learn ways to constantly reinvent themselves and consider learning throughout their lives. Adults have to do the same all the time, and they would agree with me when I say their kids need plenty of skills for which they are not groomed at school.

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More and more professionals are pointing out that our current curriculum in schools and colleges are not in tune with the industry’s requirement. Some industries recruit fresh graduates based solely on their logical and analytical skills. This combined with personality and the right attitude towards training.

However, look closely and you will witness a shift in the understanding of how education should be .You can expect the very structure of the educational system (which is classroom centric) to fundamentally change.

The IITs are the most premiere educational body in the country. Even here, strategical changes for better job placements are being made. The IITs have seen a drop of about 10% in campus placements in 2017. Companies look for softer skills as a prerequisite over command of subject. 78% of students from less prestigious engineering colleges have been left disappointed with no jobs on offer as they lacked communicative skills and suffered low analytical proficiency. So what’s wrong?

A restructure of the educational system is needed. This is perhaps possible only if it prepares to grow lateral, with branches to hold varied ways of imparting education.

An initiative by government of India called ‘SWAYAM’ lets students in remote areas have access to the best faculty in the country. For instance a student in a remote engineering college can register free of cost for courses offered by IIT Madras. Students can decide on the courses as per the industry’s demand. Courses are offered by AICTE, NPTEL, UGC, IGNOU, IIMB and NCERT/NIOS (for school students).

The choice of varied courses would allow a student to attain a tailor made skill set that suits their needs. Students are offered certificates on completion of each course. The students then in turn have the opportunity to rate the same.

Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the DaVinci Institute elucidates on this method of learning in ‘ The Future Of Education‘. It will be interesting to see if as Frey predicts our schools will ” transition into learning centers that are open 24 hours a day” and if the infrastructure will be used to produce new courseware, with assistance provided only to navigate the system or to interact on a specific topic.

That’s in the future but today an emerging generation of relatively affluent and aspirational parents in India are seen to shift high school children from the national curriculum to international hoping to keep learning requirements in tune with global requirements.

It has been possible to utilize other existing forms of international collaboration like exchange programs for students and faculty, joint conferences, classroom video calls etc. A consistent implementation of this can rejuvenate educational bodies in developing countries like India, and stir them away from apathy towards global requirements.

The mood is set for quality education and some parents are making an investment in international schools so that their children get an edge. Research finds the International Baccalaureate Diploma to be the most popular non- national curriculum across India.

All said, what should a student currently in high school do to get ready for college?

  1. Stop worrying about cut-offs, and work independently on areas of interest.
  2. Test yourself on chosen subjects and assess your level of confidence in the answers. Reassess until guesswork and doubt no longer remains.
  3. Give importance to life skills( communication, study skills, time management, independent thinking capability, networking skills etc) as you would to subject content.

During a convocation lecture, the ex- Infosys chief Narayana Murthy asks students of IITs and IISc, to compare the relevance of the book “From ideas to inventions: 101 gifts from MIT to the world” to the fact that in 60 years there is not “one invention from India that has become a household name in the globe.” Perhaps now like never before India is on the threshold of a drastic change, for which students, parents and teachers need to be ready.

Via Little Banyon Tree

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