Let’s Invent And Nurture Learning 2.0: S.S Mantha

The former Chairman of AICTE, S.S Mantha talks to BW Education about the eco-system of education, technology aiding education, innovation and employability, and the future of higher education in the country. He also stresses on the need to have Learning 2.0. Excerpts:

How will you define your role as former AICTE Chairman of India in making the education in India globally competent? 

As former Chairman of AICTE, I had introduced several measures to enhance quality which added value to technical education in India. Access to technical education has also been raised many times so much so that today any child wanting to be a part of technical education can do so. Educationists, eminent academicians and leaders who have held positions of authority must be proactively involved in creation and promotion of education policies in the Country. 

We must acknowledge that though hundreds of Ph.D’s and thousands of research publications are being produced in the country, they are without a converging theme. Like in Germany, we need our universities to be modelled on a Max Planck University model for basic research and a Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft University model for applied research with a focus on Productization rather than an unholy thrust on publishing papers. New products can happen in various sectors like the Defence, Railways, Agriculture and Infrastructure etc. The faculty evaluation, if needs to be changed, so be it. That would not only produce Indian products but also aid creating new markets and new employment opportunities. This will massively help then “Start-up and Make in India” initiatives.

If we want to see an education system of 21st century vibrant and meeting the aspirations of its students, it is necessary to disrupt the very idea of our universities. Let’s invent and nurture learning 2.0 like that of Modi Sarkar 2.0. Universities will rise from the ashes so to say, completely disrupting a traditional education model. Like many industries allowing people to work from home, we could see students too encouraged to study from home. Blended learning must become a part of learning. There is a need to reinvent the curriculum by adding industry-specific joint certification programmes, one at least each semester. The placements will multiply as a result.

According to you, how important is technology and engineering education in India?

As we embark on the fourth industrial revolution, technology will play a central role in nearly all aspects of our lives. Research by the World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school will find themselves in occupations that today do not exist.

By 2020 it’s estimated, there will be 1.5 million new digitised jobs across the globe. At the same time, 90% of organisations currently have an IT skills shortage, while 75% of educators and students feel there is a gap in their ability to meet the skills needs of the IT workforce. Same is the story in other disciplines and specialisations. To prepare the talent needed for the digital economy, education must adapt as fast as the demand for higher order skills.

The most exciting aspects of technology in education is its use for designing creativity. It also creates collaboration among students and teachers. Technology and social media in education allows people to share ideas. It helps students develop critical thinking. 

Further, technology is the primary source in economic development with various technological changes contributing significantly in the development of the country. We are on a growth path with a stable government and well laid out policies. The level of technology is also an important determinant of economic growth. The technical education system in India is vibrant and proactively promotes initiatives for knowledge creation, accumulation and wealth creation. 

What kind of education eco-system do we need to build to bring in the future technologies like AI. IoT, Robotics, Automation, AR, VR, etc in our education institutions?

Over the last couple of decades, we have witnessed new technologies transforming not just scientific and industrial development but also completely transform our daily lives. With each technology that is introduced to the masses, we have seen a shift in the way people interact with each other and also the way they envision their lives. It is only after we are introduced to a new technology we realise the redundancies of our current practices and are able to see ways in which we could make our daily dealings more efficient.

Technologies built around AI. IoT, Robotics, Automation, AR, VR are all here and we use them every day of our lives. A modern vehicle that we drive is an IOT device. Automobile factories use robots extensively. AR VR is used in a variety of applications like entertainment, media and education. Teaching the technologies in our colleges helps students acquire skills that can enhance their employability. Appropriately dovetailing these technologies at both UG/PG level will be the way to go. Industry support and collaborations are a must.

How do you see virtualisation as the future of higher studies in India?

Who is going to win the “virtual university” wars? Will it be the great institutions of yore with their high brand-name recognition: the Oxfords, Harvards, Stanfords, et al.? Will some upstart take over as the preeminent online educator, the of the academic world? And where will corporate universities fit into the mix?

There are no answers yet, but there are plenty of signs that “virtualization” will create market chaos for traditional colleges and universities. In industrialized nations, the Internet is the big driver of this process, whereby online courses supplement or even replace traditional, classroom-based courses. Virtualization is well under way.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are a big part of the move toward online education. As a Newsweek article recently reported, venture capitalists have been pouring millions into distance learning, funding companies such as, University Access and Pensare. UNext’s Web site, for example, reports that it is collaborating and “co-branding” with the likes of Columbia University, the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the London School of Economics and Carnegie Mellon University. Indian Universities, not riding the bandwagon will only be left behind and at their own peril.

Innovation is over raised- what’s next?

Change is the basic law that governs the entire nature. In this fast-paced world, technology is changing rapidly, i.e. nobody can assure you that the world is going to be the same, five years later, as everything changes with the blink of an eye. So, if one wants to go along with the world, then the only requirement is to be creative and innovative. <  

This article was published in BW Education issue dated 'July 3, 2019' with cover story titled 'BW Education Issue June-July 2019'

Tags assigned to this article:
ss mantha

Around The World

Our Publications