The new National Education Policy is the Indian version of global education — what education should look like when there is no narrowing down, said Dr Ramesh Unnikrishnan, Director of Approval Bureau (former), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). “The present system had pre-defined ladders or brackets — an engineer should mandatorily study just the curriculum and their other interests are not taken into account. So the NEP 2020 is aimed at the overall development of the students with a huge emphasis on society, history, what the student actually wants to be. The major challenge now is for teachers, while students have more choice. Now, varied students are coming —10 students are equal to 100 students — teachers need to figure out what to teach and how to teach,” he added while speaking on whether NEP will impact and better management education in the country.
Dr Unnikrishnan further added that every teacher has two counterparts now — YouTube and Google. “The biggest competition lies there. Thus, we have kept 12-13 years as the homeworking period, in order to measure and observe the impact of the NEP,” he said while speaking at the New Indian Express’ e-expressions, on Wednesday. The other panellists included Professor Rajeev Gowda, former MP and professor, Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and Dr Munirudheen A, Director, AI International College, Kerala in conversation with Daniel Thimmayya, Chief Reporter, Edex on the topic: The Future of Management Education: Challenges after COVID.
Agreeing with Dr Unnikrishnan, Dr Munirudheen said: “NEP is driving us to focus on the future instead of counting on the heritage or history of the institute. It is going to create a positive impact on how institutes will educate their students and how they will be welcomed at the workplace. Students were not given much freedom to expose themselves to discovery kind of learning, but now with autonomous institutions, they will have much more flexibility.”
Responding to Daniel Thimmayya on whether COVID-19 has brought along opportunities that colleges can take away from, Professor Rajeev Gowda said the pandemic will change the way students engage with learning. “The kind of assignments, presentations they will work on now will evolve. Management education at this point is at an extremely disruptive juncture where the possibilities are endless. Institutes have to find a balance between teaching, social aspects of the college environment, nurturing, mentoring and more. Students have to be proactive, life-long learners, keep adapting to how they learn today and then open up courses themselves over the years. Campus placements, internships pose a challenge now as these experiences are disrupted. The new work-from-home practice presents all kind of challenges for the people in the HR — tracking people, hiring, motivating. COVID-19 has slowed down the economy, the number of jobs created will be lower, it’s up to our students now to remember the phrase ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets going’. They need to think about what opportunities this whole disruption is providing, invest right now in skills that enable them to perform better online, they will be in a better position. This is a transformational moment for all of us, there’s an opportunity — gear up your morale, be strong, resolute, focus on longer-term goal on being what every business school student should be — entrepreneurial minds, embrace every change as an opportunity to deliver real value,” he elaborated.
Further, Professor Gowda said responding to the question of whether this is a good time to study given the fact that conventional jobs have taken a hit, “Internet-enabled education has opened people’s eyes and minds to continuous upskilling, investment in oneself and exploring different domains. Education is recession-proof, people come back to school, hope for an upturn, get absorbed into the growing economy. However, currently, we are actually uncertain what the post-COVID world will look like.”
Speaking about the concept of human capital, Dr Munirudheen asked what institutes should do to inculcate in students to become human capital instead of tomorrow’s best employees or employers. To this, Dr Gowda responded saying, “Here in India, we give the students a syllabus, books, and ask them to study what they need for the exams. When I used to teach, I used to give them exam questions, newspaper stories, make presentations before each class from something that is relevant to the theme of that lecture, thus engaging with students. Institutes can reach out to businesses, companies and ask them to play a little bit of a mentoring role such as one-day factory visits, video tour, talk to people who manage those places and thus create a real-world exposure for them to understand better.” He added that now the part of the challenge is how to engage with students so that get the experience of physical learning in the online learning model that COVID has brought in, to help them grow as well-rounded individuals and management executives.
Dr Unnikrishnan further spoke about AICTE’s decision to disallow single institutes to offer both the MBA and PGDM programmes and added that autonomy will provide opportunities for institutes to grow without limits. And finally, responding to queries of several students on how the job opportunities will be like in the post-COVID world, whether the value of management education will change, Dr Munirudheen said: “COVID has made our students and teachers more digitally literate. With online learning, we are much more exposed to people who have international experience. Our students have become much more digital-savvy and so we must stay positive and make the most of this situation.”