The Degree of Irrelevance in Education – The New Indian Express

At most institutions in our country, the quality of undergraduate programs and courses offered leaves much to be desired. I am talking about the content and the pedagogy involved in the implementation of these courses and these offers. I am aware that this is one of the challenges that the National Education Policy (NEP) has taken up in a clear and proactive manner.

A major source of concern for me, however, is the fact that there is a larger purpose behind the NEP recommendations, which many of our institutions have failed to grasp and address. Of course, it’s not that wandering universities do this on purpose. Rather, it is their inability, for many reasons, to recognize the big picture.

Allow me to illustrate. At many universities, we have an incredibly high number of students enrolling in programs offering an honors degree in disciplines such as Mathematics, History, Commerce or Hindi Literature. This is a representative list, but not exhaustive. Every year, across India, thousands of students graduate from each of these undergraduate programs. These students are insufficiently prepared for the real world as a whole.

READ ALSO | Chronicle of Shiv Visvanathan: The sadness of college today

The three years spent studying history or mathematics – or most disciplines – did not prepare them for anything useful. All they can think of is entering a competition with almost slim chances of success or taking on various jobs that offer next to nothing. For the vast multitude of graduates, the future is meaningless, as studying Hindi literature prepares them for next to nothing. Either way, it’s not like they’re good at their chosen areas of specialization. They have almost no communication or analytical skills or, for that matter, no idea how to use computers to their advantage.

The NEP has repeatedly asserted throughout its pages that institutions must impart, in practical ways, skills that will help students better realize their talents. Also, the NEP has visualized a broader picture that will reduce the irrelevance of curricula. For example, in today’s world, no discipline can do without data-based skills acquired through computing.

Additionally, the NEP talks about using transdisciplinarity by creating synergy between disciplines through collaborative group problem solving. As an illustration, mathematics and coding can be used to better understand Pingal’s discoveries in mathematics through Sanskrit poetry. If Sanskrit students can work hand in hand with mathematics and computer science students, much good will result for each of them. This is the larger picture the NEP is trying to paint.

Dinesh Singh is the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Delhi; Assistant Professor of Mathematics, University of Houston, USA. Twitter: @DineshSinghEDU

At most institutions in our country, the quality of undergraduate programs and courses offered leaves much to be desired. I am talking about the content and the pedagogy involved in the implementation of these courses and these offers. I am aware that this is one of the challenges that the National Education Policy (NEP) has taken up in a clear and proactive manner. A major source of concern for me, however, is the fact that there is a larger purpose behind the NEP recommendations, which many of our institutions have failed to grasp and address. Of course, it’s not that wandering universities do this on purpose. Rather, it is their inability, for many reasons, to recognize the big picture. Allow me to illustrate. At many universities, we have an incredibly high number of students enrolling in programs offering an honors degree in disciplines such as Mathematics, History, Commerce or Hindi Literature. This is a representative list, but not exhaustive. Every year, across India, thousands of students graduate from each of these undergraduate programs. These students are insufficiently prepared for the real world as a whole. READ ALSO | Shiv Visvanathan’s column: The sadness of college today Three years of studying history or math — or most disciplines — haven’t prepared them for anything useful. All they can think of is entering a competition with almost slim chances of success or taking on various jobs that offer next to nothing. For the vast multitude of graduates, the future is meaningless, as studying Hindi literature prepares them for next to nothing. Either way, it’s not like they’re good at their chosen areas of specialization. They have almost no communication or analytical skills or, for that matter, no idea how to use computers to their advantage. The NEP has repeatedly asserted throughout its pages that institutions must impart, in practical ways, skills that will help students better realize their talents. Also, the NEP has visualized a broader picture that will reduce the irrelevance of curricula. For example, in today’s world, no discipline can do without data-based skills acquired through computing. Additionally, the NEP talks about using transdisciplinarity by creating synergy between disciplines through collaborative group problem solving. As an illustration, mathematics and coding can be used to better understand Pingal’s discoveries in mathematics through Sanskrit poetry. If Sanskrit students can work hand in hand with mathematics and computer science students, much good will result for each of them. This is the larger picture the NEP is trying to paint. Dinesh Singh is the former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University; Assistant Professor of Mathematics, University of Houston, USA. Twitter: @DineshSinghEDU

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