Higher Education in India

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This paper addresses the issues Indian higher education.



8/13/2011 Should we miss Einsteins in Higher Education in India- Do We Have Some Lessons to Learn? _____________________________________________________________________ Dr.K.Prabhakar, Professor, Velammal Engineering College, Velammal Nagar, Ambattur-Redhills Road, Chennai-600066, Tamilnadu [email protected] _____________________________________________________________________ Context I will not be discussing the varied issues faced by the Indian higher education scenario here. However, I assure you that you will not regret reading this as it address some of the issues keeping future in view. Introduction Dr.Jamil Salmi while discussing on future of education he described future in the flowing prophecy. I have added my own ideas at appropriate places to indianize the report. I warn my readers of my disability of being a bipolar and is may be one of the maniac depressive states I write this. Circa 2020 ( not too far in future) In the future, it will be compulsory to go to university. Universities will recruit their new students on Myspace and Facebook, and in countries where it’s difficult to attract engineering students to study Engineering, they will go straight to kindergarten to start motivating them. When they enter university, new students will get a free laptop, a Blackberry, an iPad and a Kindle with all their text books. If you need financial aid, you will participate in an auction on eBay to get your scholarship. In the future students will commonly be enrolled in two or three be commonly using only social networking. universities at the same time studying towards a common degree. No more emails in the future they are slow. We will Students will take open internet exams and the validity of their degree will be only five years.And bad news for those of you who are teachers – redoing courses every year is a must. But no anxiety it will be much easier in the future because lectures will be for five minute lectures. Most courses will be online and if a student needs some help, he or she will call number to Bangalore for online tutoring.

Infrastructure In the future it will be cheaper to build universities because we will have no more physical libraries or labs; it will be all i•labs and e•libraries. Universities will recruit any professor who has studied overseas as they will be available at a cheaper cost. Bad news on the financial front, of course. Government universities will receive only 10% of their income from governments. They will be so bankrupt that corruption will erode the budgets and politicians will ensure that government institutions will not flourish. Thanks to the policy of the Government of private entry the post graduate medical seat is costing 3 crores and a MBBS medical seat is 60 lakhs with five years advance booking. The concept of advance booking of cine theaters in India during good old days has been back marked ( an antonym of next marking) in education in India. The private sector will help government with hefty bribes so that government will honor them to be the either holy men or benevolent givers of knowledge. They later contest elections to win people mandate to get legitimacy to marketing of education. Vice Chancellors will be earning large sums a year. students. Knowledge of English In countries where English is not a native language, parents will have surgery performed on their young children to cut the little skin that links the tongue to the mouth to improve their English language pronunciation. They may use even cruder method to make children to make them learn English so that it becomes their commercial voice as will as inner voice.MBA will disappear because in the future the degree will be the MFA, the Master in Fine Arts, because creativity will be so important. I have been telling Kahanis; a common word in India who bluffs . Let us examine some of the examples that are likely to lead to these conclusions. For this purpose I have borrowed totally and shamelessly as it is true reflection. Great artists steal, I remember Bill Gates. Let us compare South Korea and Brazil. But look at the difference today. South Korea is doing so well and Brazil is so behind. They tried to do some adjustments to compensate for differences in investment in both physical and human capital and that makes it slightly better for Brazil. But still we have this huge gap which they attribute to the way South Korea, much more than Brazil, has harnessed knowledge for its development. Salary will be indexed to ranking, going up and down with your ranking of results obtained by

While many of us use Korean products we rarely use products of Brazil. How do you explain the phenomena? The major difference is the number of people with tertiary education have gone up many fold in Korea compared that of Brazil from 1960 to 2010. A few weeks back, the Prime Minister of Ontario travelled to the US and he gave a speech and, at the end of the speech he had the following words: If you think about the world we live in today, it is a world where you can borrow your capital, copy your technology and buy your natural resources. There is only one thing left on which to build your advantage, build a strong economy and society, and that is talent.” That is the only competitive advantage nowadays. A few years back there was a commission on the future of skills in the US and it looked at the very generous distribution of labor that they proposed. The US will focus on creative work, R&D, design, marketing and sales, managing the global supplies chain and, for the rest of the world, all of them will be confined to routine work, whether we do it ourselves or whether we use machines to do that. Do you like that vision of the world? It has not worked for United states. The number of people employed in computer hardware industry has come down to the levels of what was the number in 1980’s. Andy Groove lamented that the jobs are shifted to Foxconn a Chinese company with least transparency. United states lost large number of eco system of workers who were responsible for creating a social system that used to produce one of the finest workforce in the world. The loss to United States is a loss to the world.


(http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_28/b4186048384039.htm) It does not work to have top heavy hour glass economy with less number of high paid highly creative Apple Jobs and large number of low paid low skilled McDonald Jobs. High quality jobs of America has been converted to low quality jobs in organizations such as Foxconn. It cons people with opaque policies. You do not find any thing written about this organization except the number of suicides that happen in the organization. Talent nurturing and Its Importance There was a small city called Oulu near Helsinki in the middle of the forest. The main company there used making paper and cardboard. But in 1970s the CEO had started to get worried about the future of his industry and so he requested government to invest in higher education so that he can support. None of the professors in Helsinki were keen to move to this small city in a dark hole , but the Government took up the challenge and established a university in Oulu and today, Oulu – is one of the best university. The organization is Nokia. They moved from being a company producing paper and cardboard and cables to becoming a world leader in electronics, contributing 20% of Finland’s balance of payments. Should we have innovation only for the rich? It need not be. Knowledge can be used for economic growth, but also for resolving daily problems. LifeStraw allows people to transform dangerous water into potable water immediately. Or the Q•Drum which transforms the task of taking water from the well to the village into almost a game. And it is also about harnessing knowledge for safety. Progress in seismology, volcanology, climatology does not mean that we can prevent natural catastrophes, but certainly we can be better prepared.

http://www.vestergaard-frandsen.com/lifestraw/lifestraw They operate under the principle of profit for a purpose. Their vision statement says, We operate under our own unique Humanitarian Entrepreneurship business model. This "profit for a purpose" approach has turned corporate social responsibility into our core business of creating life-saving products for the most vulnerable. Another organization has found that water fetching is the most difficult aspect for women and that was the cause for their backwardness. Please visit this link to know the world.

http://www.qdrum.co.za/ The new sources of energy is likely to come from alternative energy sources. We no more consider them as alternative they are essential energy resources now. Please visit the website http://www.vestas.com/

Let us compare three disasters The earthquake in Haiti was 7.0 on the Richter scale. Back in 1989 there was a 7.0 earthquake in San Francisco Bay – 69 dead people. But in Haiti 200,000 deaths. In Chile there was an even stronger earthquake –8.8 on the Richter scale, but only 575 dead. 69/575/200,000 dead for same event –what explains the difference? It is rule of law. If we do not have rule of law in higher education as in any social phenomena; are likely to go Haiti say. Obsolete Knowledge What is being thought in the class at the universities are either obsolete and in the process of becoming obsolete by the time they graduate. The rate of change of knowledge is so high its half life may be 2-3 years and our graduates take three to four years. Mumane and Levy respectively from Harvard and MIT – analysed what happened in US firms for the past thirty years looking at what happened to the tasks that are performed. They found that many tasks have been taken over by the expert thinking and machines; not only routine, manual tasks, but even routine cognitive tasks where you can programme the machine. What cannot be replaced is complex communication. What is expert thinking? It’s the ability to look at patterns, complex patterns, to make sense of them and to propose a course of action. However , the doctor even after all the tests need to work on the sophisticated reports to provide diagnosis and prognosis for a patient. Are we preparing our children for this? Seldom it has been done. An examination of the different syllabus indicate that every effort has been make to politicalize education. Regarding communication, if the technology is so good that helps communication we will not have riots in Briton or wars in the world. We are brutally non communicative. I have mentioned about five minutes lectures; it is already happening at MIT at Technology Enhanced Active Learning classroom. This is a physics classroom. No teaching anymore. The students study the text book by themselves. Every night before they meet in the study room, they have to go online and do a quiz to show that they have done their readings, and then they come to the session and it’s all group work and it’s all experimentation to see how they can apply the knowledge. The Professor doesn’t teach anymore, he’s just a facilitator answering questions, guiding, facilitating the session. Pyramidization of Education If we look at education it is like a pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid there is large number of people with primary education. The higher education is at the top with

lowest number of people. What is required is a star kind of structure where there will be people at different parts moving from one place to others depending on the job opportunities. In future no one is likely to stick to a particular job or career. I think an average person is likely to change at least three professions. Carnegie Mellon has a chemistry teaching game called Mixed Reception. So we have a cocktail party, as we will have after this session, and then one of the guests drops dead, as hopefully will not happen after this session. And the exercise is to learn the necessary chemistry knowledge, in order to find out whether it was just food poisoning or murder à la Agatha Christie. Knowledge and work The acceleration in the creation of new knowledge means that what you teach first year university students may have become obsolete by the time they graduates. How to solve the problem? Our educational practices have to be in tune with the future. Unfortunately it is in the past. Some of the syllabuses of universities have Pickles as a reference book for accounting which is obsolete long before 1950s. Creativity Head of Samsung cellular phones was asked on “Oh, I am “What are the technical skills that you are looking for in your new graduates?” And he said, not worried about engineers or technicians –what I want are designers.” Because if you think about it, nowadays when we buy a cellular phone, or especially when our children buy cellular phones, it is not about the technical sophistication of the device, but about the feel and look. What is needed is creativity combined with talent and knowledge intensity. Adult Education How do we deal with adult education. We are having a pyramidal structure with large students in the lower levels and low students in the tertiary levels. This will change, with a star structure with different students occupying different places and each individually contributing. new pedagogical approaches to meet these challenges? That we need to change from a university that focuses on the needs and pleasures and desires of the professor, and focuses on the needs of the learner. We have to harness new and varied modalities of learning that are more interactive, that are more collaborative.

Conclusion I have no intention of concluding as I have touched on different areas. It is to the reader to conclude and work or his own salvation. However, one final story. Do you know the greatest brains of the twentieth century? He is not Einstein as we generally imagine; He is Christopher Langan whose IQ is better than that of all scientists in the world. Please read his life ( he is a bouncer in a bar in USA) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Langan). Higher education should address the needs of these people who can contribute to the betterment of society. Advances in neuroscience and genetics are now challenging the common view that a lot of our talent is innate and that what is acquired is less. Now the balance seems to be saying that most of what we are able to develop is not from genetics, but is linked to our own experience and the environment in which we grow up and evolve. And I want to illustrate that with a tale of two Chemistry Nobel Prize Winners, Lord Rutherford, and Sir Chris Langan. Most of you must know Lord Rutherford was born in New Zealand and showed good academic disposition and was lucky to get a scholarship that enabled him to come and study in the UK, and in 1908 he received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He was at the leading edge of Physics and Chemistry, he was the father of modern Nuclear Physics, a very brilliant career indeed. But then Chris Langan is not a Nobel Prize winner; however, he is considered to be the most intelligent man on Planet Earth nowadays, as those of you who may have read Outliers know. Graduate students entering Harvard on average have an IQ of 115. Einstein had an IQ of 135. Chris Langan’s IQ is 195. And yet he’s a nobody. He grew up in a family with four brothers – all five of them are from a different father. They were hungry when they were kids. He went to high school – nobody realised that he was intelligent. He had the choice between University of Michigan and University of Nebraska – he chose University of Nebraska. He had a scholarship the first year. At the end of the first year the application had to be signed for the scholarship to be renewed. His mum forgot to do that. He got kicked out of school. Nobody realised, because he didn’t have the proper social skills, because he didn’t have the proper motivation, that he was a genius. He is auto didactic person, he is so knowledgeable. He writes Physics papers that nobody understands – some people say they’re nonsense; some people say it’s so sophisticated that they don’t understand it. Just to illustrate the importance of motivation and social factors. Now there are very interesting experiments in India with highly hierarchical in terms of castes.

This experiment brought young kids together in a classroom, randomly selected – a group from the highest caste, a group from the lowest caste. The first experiment – the kids were welcomed and told, “Hey, young and beautiful kids, please sit down where you want, we have this easy test, take it.” So they take the test. The kids from the low caste are doing slightly better, but basically the same results. However, when they were told that they belong to lower castes their performance came down. Now how to address these issues? Some one claimed that since there is large number of seats available there is no need for reservations. Please read death of merit in India. http://thedeathofmeritinindia.wordpress.com/ Do we provide access, respect, justice, help, funding for our own brothers? No. What should be done for the higher education? The answers are all with you. References Dr.Jamil Salami’ Lecture http://www.hepi.ac.uk/files/HEPIJamilSalmiLecture23%20February2011-2.pdf

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