OpenBoard Opportunity for Wide Area Education

Indian industry and university partners

Of late, there has been a surge in interest for setting up Bschools in India. The latest to join the bandwagon is US-based Georgia Institute of Technology (commonly called Georgia Tech), according to a report.

Georgia Tech would have two centers of excellence at Hyderabad, in collaboration with Indian industry and university partners.

Recently, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said only quality institutions from abroad will be allowed to offer education in India once a Bill to regulate the entry of foreign education providers into the sector is passed. Since 2000, 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through automatic route is permitted in the education sector. But, the present legal structure in our country does not allow granting of degrees by foreign educational institutions on Indian soil. The proposed Foreign Education Providers Bill would regulate the entry of foreign education providers as per India's priorities, the Minister was quoted as saying.

Around 140 Indian institutions and 156 foreign education providers are engaged in academic collaborations for India; Of these 90 have university status and 20 have college status.

While efforts are being made to have degrees awarded to be recognized in the US and the courses run would be fully at par with those in the foreign university campuses.

A report stated that the highest number of collaborations is taking place in the field of management and business administration — 168 of the total of 635, or 26 per cent. The next most offered discipline for collaboration is engineering and technology / computer application / information technology, having 144 or over 22 per cent collaborative programmes, followed by hotel management and house keeping, having 132 or over 20 per cent collaborations, the report added.

Education for egalitarian society, need of hour

Lokesh Malti Prakash scrutinises about various aspects of education that had given so much of expectations, dreams and visions of creating a new India and society but lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action — Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore wrote these words expressing his vision of the kind of society he wished India to evolve into. A great educationist as he was, Tagore clearly knew that such a society can be build only on a foundation of an education that is able to unravel the humane and creative possibilities of mind of each and every individual.

The last six and half decades of independence, however, have brought in a different dawn than that was intended. Education, that was expected to lay the foundations of an enlightened society remains mired into such structural contradictions that it would be a fool’s paradise to dream of any transformative urge to emanate from our schools or universities. In an age where knowledge has been reduced to information, learning has reduced to potential pay packages and creative talent tied to developing saleable skills, education itself has “lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit”.

“In a situation of the type we have in India, it is responsibility of the education system to bring the different social classes and groups together and thus promote the emergence of an egalitarian and integrated society. But at present, instead of doing so, education itself is tending to increase social segregation and to perpetuate and widen class distinctions…what is worse, this segregation is increasing and tending to widen the gulf between the classes and the masses,” stated the Report of Education Commission, popularly called the Kothari Commission in 1966.

Apart from the issues of equitable access, pedagogic practices, declining educational infrastructure, teachers’ training that were raised by the Commission, the foremost was the issue of eliminating inequalities in education and transforming it into a source and inspiration of an egalitarian society.

In the last four decades since the Kothari Commission not only has the education system changed little but since the last two decades it has taken the worse turn as the elite of the country moved decisively in favour of economic reforms. With this, as profit-motive becomes all pervasive, any idea of commitment to larger social good, of cultivating rational and enlightened outlook has become an oddity that is being fast shelved from the education system.

“Disparity and discrimination has been an integral part of Indian society since ages. It is for this reason that the Constitution directed the Indian State to ensure education of equitable quality and free from all discrimination so that social justice prevails. However, the kowtowing by the Indian State before the neo-liberal policies of the global capital has put Indian education on sale. This has three serious implications. Firstly, the State has abdicated its constitutional obligation of providing equitable education. Secondly, the rising cost of education is leading to exclusion of the vast sections of society which have hoped to gain access to education as a result of the constitutional promise. Thirdly, the curriculum and pedagogic content of education is rapidly turning away from preparing citizens for a democratic, secular and just society. Instead it is now geared, on one hand, for promoting consumerism and on the other for supplying slavish workforce for maximising corporate profits,” says well-known educationist Anil Sadgopal.

In a country like India where there is massive poverty and destitution and where economic disparities are high, making education a marketable commodity will make it nearly inaccessible for large majority of the people. For, example this trend can be seen in the fact that majority of poor children who are able to attend poorly equipped Government schools are forced to quit at an early stage. A variety of factors ranging from low income to inadequate pedagogy are responsible for this. The basic question is that when education is reduced to a commodity how one can expect egalitarian outcomes.

The Roots of Crisis in Education

Tracing the roots of the present crisis of our education system to the colonial period, Vijay Kumar, a Bhopal based political activist says, “In 1947, when India awoke to the so-called freedom at the dark hour of midnight some of this darkness got stamped onto the vision of nation-making that guided the knights of free India. The education system that we find in the country today has its intimate roots in the notorious minutes of Macaulay written in 1835. Macaulay laid the foundation of a colonial education system that was by its nature elitist, discriminatory and exclusivist. The objective was to create a class of Indians who could be ready collaborators in the colonial governance of the country. Such a system reinforced the age old discriminations that had afflicted the India society.”

“The colonial legacy was never seriously countered or challenged. While attempts were made to establish niche institutions there was total lack of a political will to institute a system where the doors of education are effectively opened to every one without any discrimination whatsoever. It is not that there has been a lack of knowledge of what is required. The Kothari Commission had, as early as 1966 recommended establishment of Common School System whereby school education is completely free for every student,” he adds.

The fact remains that education in India is an exclusive privilege. Almost half the children of the relevant age group continue to be deprived of even eight years of elementary education. Of those admitted to Class I, only 15-17 per cent are able to clear Class XII. The situation is even worse when the caste and religious minority break-up is looked at. Only about 10-11 per cent OBC’s and around 9 per cent Muslims cross the Class XII barrier. Among SCs and STs, the comparable figures would be 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively. This means that almost 92 per cent of Dalits and 94 per cent of tribals never reach the threshold of higher education.

The irony of the situation is that this situation exists despite a series of measures taken by successive Governments (including Central and State Governments). From the BG Kher Committee in 1948 to the Radhakrishnan, Mudaliyar and Kothari Commissions, successive National Policies on education in 1968, 1986 and 1992 and programmes like Operation Black Board, DPEP (District Primary Education Program), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and the Right to Education Act being the latest in series. But the reality is that the policy-makers have been bumping from one deadline to another with education taking nose-dive at each successive attempt.

“The only way out of this bleak situation is to forge a political resolve to resurrect the vision of establishing an enlightened and egalitarian society that has been conveniently shelved away. Education can become a means of establishing a humane society and enlightened human beings only when we decide as a society to achieve this,” remarks Vijay.

Choosing Business School

Obviously if you had a magic wand and you were given one choice – most of you would choose one of the IIM’s. But then life is not so easy and you have to be the chosen one to get into your dream institute. When we start planning for an admission to a Business School – the second question you need to answer is Where? The first question ofcourse is Why do I need to do management?

Just as a right Business School can make your career and hence your life, a wrong choice can put you in dock. Then what is right and what is wrong? How do you differentiate between a right business school and a wrong business school. Which ones to choose and which ones to avoid? If you do not get into the premier league, there is no harm in taking a break and trying again next year with renewed zeal and vigor rather than compromise or settle for whichever you are getting into. This is a major decision and can have a life long impact on your career. Ofcourse the top 20 would always be good and following criterion should be used to judge the school not in that list.

Ask the following questions before paying the fees:

Placement Record: Ultimately what drive is the placements. Hence check, find out what kind of placements the previous and last few batches have had. Placements is also a function of track record of the students in the industry, level of industry – institute interaction, faculty etc. Make proper enquiries about all this. Check their website, scan their broucher.
Faculty: number of core faculty members, their backgrounds and experience, visiting faculty and their level in industry etc.

If the institute is new, talk to the Director and to the faculty as they are going to drive the education and placements. Check out their enthusiasm levels. Understand their plans and the practicality and implementability of these plans. As they would have nothing concrete or tangible to show. If possible talk to others who have taken admission in the institute and understand their motivation in taking admission there.
Governing Council of the Business School: How is the industry representation? Which type and what level people are associated with the school. How active can they be?

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