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Interdisciplinary Education Is Extremely Important In India

Interdisciplinary education is extremely important but it is not offered in its true spirit in India. Students do not have the opportunity of cutting across functional areas to pursue their interest.

Education Post 07 January 2020 04:37

Interdisciplinary Education Is Extremely Important In India

Dr. Madhumita Chatterji, Director - ABBS School of Management, Bengaluru

Any policy can be said to cater to only popular thought if there are no voices raised against some of the features. What are the features or suggestions in the policy that makes the private colleges and institutions restless?

  1. Criteria about the three types of institutions: Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs): Research Universities, Teaching Universities and Autonomous degree-granting colleges not very transparent
  2. There is lack of clarity about the creation and monitoring of autonomous private institutions
  3. It is silent about higher education/research funding for autonomous private institutions
  4. The policy does not qualify the representation percentages of the different fields mentioned in the Apex controlling body, RSA. It also does not offer the objective criteria for determining the ‘eminence’ of the selected members. It also remains silent on the representation of women and other marginalized groups.
  5. There is a palpable fear of education slipping into the hands of dubious private players who would use the opportunity for profiteering without offering quality education because of the proposed decentralization without adequate checks and balances.
  6. There is also the fear of over centralization with the overarching powers given to RSA. The relationship between MHRD and RSA not clear. Will it create dual centre of power?
  7. There is no clarity about the basic minimum standards that Institution especially private Institutions will have to follow. This may lead to sub-minimal teaching leading to further drop in the excellence of Indian education.
  8. Digitalization of education has to take into account the feasibility of implementation. “Migratory” children belong to informal poor sector of the economy who do not have access to technology. Therefore digitization may not achieve the objective it is meant to.

How will you perceive the term ‘interdisciplinary’ when compared to the education system that exists in India today?

Interdisciplinary education is extremely important but it is not offered in its true spirit in India. Students do not have the opportunity of cutting across functional areas to pursue their interest. This curbs creativity and innovation. In fact we have created silos in our education system where science based subjects are still considered above the others and students do not get an opportunity to delve into the much required humanities courses even if they have interest. Holistic education is not being offered at any level.

There is an urgent need to train faculty members in appreciating the importance of interdisciplinary approach.

The criteria for getting admission in professional courses also have to be reviewed.

There is no focus on co-curricular or extracurricular activities which are important in providing holistic education.

Do you think the terms ‘future-ready’, ‘employability’, and ‘job-ready’ have been mercilessly exploited by the corporate world to hide their own inefficiencies? If yes, how must the education industry tackle this? Do corporate too need an overhaul in their attitude?

Corporate certainly need to review their attitude in India. Most of the corporate do not offer a helping hand especially to second tier schools to promote experiential or hands on learning and then complain about lack of employability. Corporate also look at building their brand by promoting research activities with renowned international and national institutions but do not want to give opportunity to local institutions and help in improving their standards. Those who complain about job readiness should share honest and feasible feedback. Creating the inquisitive mind that can think critically and analytically is important. The most important quality that a student must possess is appreciation of humanitarian values. A positive attitude and tenacity, will help a student to excel. Therefore Academic Institutions have to balance between providing knowledge and skill and teach both theory and practice. Academic Institutions cannot be treated as mere skill building centres!

There are mentions in NEP 2019 about private and public institutions to be treated at par. What does this really imply? The concept then goes on to add that education is to be ‘not for profit’ for ALL. How do you think this aim can be achieved, considering that there are a number of institutions and universities subsisting on just grants doled out to them?

  1. Basic minimum standards have to be set in teaching, research and community outreach
  2. Funding should be provided based on objective evaluation by an independent body of eminent ethical academicians, bureaucrats, social activists, community leaders and active inclusion of other stakeholders.
  3. Criteria for eligibility of receiving funds should be transparent and measurable.
  4. Practical timelines should be provided for achieving financial self sufficiency
  5. Besides funds support in the form curriculum design support, faculty training, better infrastructure, placement support etc should be made available

Is it time for more eminent educationists to enter politics and make their views heard when legislations are being debated?

This would certainly help but an environment that supports honesty and accountability has to be created for such people to enter politics. Deep rooted corruption has to be challenged and people must see action against the corruption and hedonism.


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