President concerned about mediocrity of Higher Education in India

President Pranab Mukherjee while delivering the Sir Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Lecture to mark his 150th birth anniversary celebrations organised by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Asutosh Mookerjee Memorial Institute rued India lagging behind countries such as China and USA on patents filing. He called for transformative ideas to pull us out of this mediocrity of higher education in India. It is not surprising that this comes at a time when there are reports of poor performing Engineering colleges in India which are not only failing to fill seats but are unable to secure placements for their graduates.

The president stated that Indian colleges were not providing the requisite atmosphere for scholars to be able to do their best work, quoting examples of Amartya Sen and Hargovind Khurana.

We believe our higher education institutions do not focus on market relevant research and are not competing in the market to create value for wider stakeholders. This undermines the passion and engagement they need from students and faculty to perform. Also there are no overall narratives, which engage people’s passion. Most narratives remain around passing grades and subsequent jobs, rather than forming learning objectives around solving key issues and problems in society. Teaching methodologies remain mired in early 20th century practices. The failure starts not just at the higher education level but at school level where we fail to emphasize the development of a value framework that supports meaningful pursuits for finding solutions to problems. The underlying principle being that real unsolved problems usually require us to work at the forefront of capabilities development requiring innovation, critical thinking, etc.


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