Rethinking the Essentials of Higher Education Reform - An article by Professor Pankaj Chandra (Hindustan Times)
Indian academic institutions are hurtling towards the deep end of irrelevance. On the one hand, India faces new challenges that range from corruption in its political economy and pressure on public resources to a future of work that requires new competencies and newer models of employment. On the other, universities in India continue with business as usual – credentialing through rote learning and standardised examinations, uninspiring classrooms with extremely low engagement, and a student experience that is violent and intolerant both on the body and the mind. The tragedy of our country is that there are exceptions and they, rather than being used as exemplars for larger change, are progressively swatted to the norm by regulatory agencies.
Take a student who comes to a university – desirous of new learning and wanting to change the world. Most are trying to figure out how to navigate the changing environment around them. Of course, there are those too who have been sent to mark time until others decide what is to become of them. The faculty too begin with phenomenal earnestness but lose their enthusiasm to build institutions that matter sooner than their students. Many have come to institutions without the necessary preparation in the methods of their discipline or pedagogy or a perspective to grow questioning minds. The university leadership is a reward rather than a clarion call for building a bold new world, and most rest in its celebration. The bureaucracy seldom understands the nuances of managing institutions and how to get the most out of it. Society rarely cares about institutions once its own children have graduated. So, how do we heal this hurt of generations?