Journey From Primary To Higher Education
For Madhu Chitkara, Pro Chancellor, Chitkara University, and winner of Higher Education - Leading University of India, who started off as school teacher in 1976, education is nothing short of revolutionary
In the heart of India's educational landscape, a remarkable journey began more than four decades ago. Madhu Chitkara, a dedicated schoolteacher, took her first steps into the world of education in 1976. Little did she know that this would be the beginning of an extraordinary adventure. Her passion for teaching led her to Punjab University, where she taught as a professor for several years. In 2002, after years of honing her skills as an educator, she decided it was time to embark on her own educational journey.
Madhu Chitkara, along with a determined staff, set the groundwork for what would become Chitkara University with a goal in her heart and a modest college with only 240 seats. Two decades later, Chitkara University had evolved into a benchmark of higher education. The institution had spread its wings beyond Punjab, establishing two prestigious universities in Himachal Pradesh. Not content with just universities, they had also nurtured two K-12 schools, providing quality education to young minds across four states – Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana (Panchkula), and Chandigarh. The growth was astounding with over 20,000 students under their guidance, it was clear that Chitkara University had become a fierce force in the world of education.
In 2014, Chitkara and her team launched the Chitkara University Research and Innovation Network. The university's commitment to excellence was further demonstrated through its dedication to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Out of the 17 SDGs, Chitkara University chose to focus on 16, aligning their mission with global sustainability objectives.
However, there was one SDG that remained unexplored – SDG 14, ‘Life Below Water’. This challenge was taken up by a new addition to the Chitkara family, a marine school dedicated to exploring and addressing the mysteries of life beneath the waves.
Chitkara University was not satisfied with just national recognition. They placed their focus on international acclaim, actively seeking certification and honours from prestigious institutions. Their hard work was rewarded with prizes from QS and Times Higher Education, putting them on the worldwide stage.
When India unveiled its National Education Policy (NEP) in 2020, the institute embraced the reforms with open arms. They became pioneers in implementing NEP initiatives, including the Academic Bank of Credit, a system designed to recognise and reward students for their academic achievements.
Interdisciplinary studies were another cornerstone of Chitkara's educational philosophy. They encouraged students to explore diverse fields beyond their chosen disciplines. For instance, computer science students could delve into subjects like psychology, hospitality, or media, broadening their horizons and skill sets.
The university's forward-thinking approach extended to all its programs, which consistently received validation and recognition from various educational bodies. They were not just adapting to change; they were leading it.
Looking ahead to the next decade, Chitkara held a visionary perspective for the future of her institution and the Indian education system as a whole. She believed that the time had come for students not only to seek jobs but to create them. Entrepreneurship was the key, and Chitkara University was committed to fostering a culture of innovation and enterprise.
To turn this vision into reality, the university established four incubation centres. These centres became the nurturing grounds for budding entrepreneurs, offering seed money to startups with innovative ideas. The results spoke for themselves, with over 180 startups thriving under Chitkara University's guidance.
In Chitkara's eyes, this was the future of education – empowering students to become job creators, innovators and leaders in their fields.
Madhu Chitkara's and Chitkara University's story is one of dedication, invention, and the continuous pursuit of excellence. Her journey shows the transformational potential of education, from humble beginnings as a schoolteacher to the building of a prosperous educational empire. The commitment of Chitkara University to sustainability, research and entrepreneurship is transforming the future of education in India and beyond, one visionary step at a time.
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