When Education nurtures Creativity, Leadership, and Enterprise Moving beyond our Slavish Mindsets – Vinay Rai

When Education nurtures Creativity, Leadership, and Enterprise Moving beyond our Slavish Mindsets – Vinay Rai

When Education nurtures Creativity, Leadership, and Enterprise Moving beyond our Slavish Mindsets – Vinay Rai

Mark Twain had once famously remarked: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education". John Dryden, Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, Hellen Keller, Albert Einstein, were not far behind in their distrust of 'formal education systems'. Vinay Rai addressed, Why did these remarkable men and women - full of courage, character, and creativity - see a startling dichotomy between 'real learning' on the one hand and 'mere schooling' on the other? Perhaps because even in their times, like in ours, formal education was hardly producing men and women of intensity, imagination, and ingenuity.

India's case is all the more peculiar since she has not only to deal with a colossal mass of an illiterate populace but has to equally face the brunt of largely 'mal-educated' masses. Ridden with the colonial legacy of imparting an education aimed at churning out slaves, i.e. a class of uninspired and unoriginal people, the majority of our educational universities and colleges are still steeped in the British-inspired rote learning system.  We have preserved its purity by not even allowing the revision of syllabuses in several areas. A system based on conformity cannot allow our students to be creative and innovative. A system, which considers 'marks' as the only basis for judging talent, cannot promote talent so critical to ignite the creative energies of our youth.

Indeed, in a nation as large as ours we must deal pragmatically with issues of standardization, mass and reach. But in doing that, we must not neglect the values that are at the very heart center of the Education Enterprise: values of Innovation, Teamwork, and Perseverance. These are the very values that will ensure that we learn to continuously build upon our strengths, maximize the results of collective efforts, and never be afraid to try, try, try again. In fact, in India, failure is taboo. Not so in America. The Americans rightly recognize that failure is as much part of innovation as the success. Indeed, if you are always criticized for failure or rebuked or trampled upon then you will never ever try and without trying there can be no cases of success.

Obviously, these innovative thinking and values can hardly be ushered in without a corresponding change in teaching methodologies. Vinay Rai say's, Colonial systems must be cast away to find new ones that reflect contemporary India's preoccupations and aspirations India. The handful of existing IITs and IIMs which are at the forefront of producing world-class graduates (less because of innovative teaching and more because of the innate potential of selected students) are clearly not enough to deal with the knowledge-poverty of an entire nation. Even after 58 years of our freedom, 32% of our men and 55% of our women are still illiterate. It is noteworthy that in China the illiteracy rate stands at just 8% for men and 24% for women. In India, only 6% of the young people are currently enrolled in higher education, while in China, the figure is reached 15%. Clearly, with our less-than-optimal performance in the education sector, we run the risk of busting the dream of India as the next Knowledge Power.  Therefore, it is imperative that we address the issues of reaching the remotest in India for the purpose of education, and simultaneously ensure that all of these colleges and institutions set up to aspire to the highest of quality standards.

And "Quality", to me is not limited to ensuring that the labs are well-equipped and teachers well-qualified; it is in ensuring that the spirit and enterprise of students are given space for action, that their views are respected and heard, that their aspirations are nurtured with the most caring and concerned approach, that they are involved in their journey of learning from day one, that are made part of decision-making processes through the most-transparent of discussions , that they are encouraged by their teachers to question, challenge and engage in constructive conversation and more importantly that the system assures them of its support in success and in failure. The issue of Quality, therefore, must be dealt with by the highest of experts and must never be measured just in terms of bricks and mortar.

Vinay Rai educationist says's, the stakeholders in the education sector need to radically look at higher education with a fresh perspective. I hereby provide five recommendations to move beyond:

Beyond 'doctors, engineers': we need to stop pretending that our country's children, brought up as they are with highly unequal access to resources and opportunities, will emerge as engineers, doctors or lawyers. In that, we need to find ways and means to employ and engage our youth at all levels of the society and in consonance with their abilities and aspirations India.

Beyond IITs, IIMs: we need to look beyond our handful of top-notch but greatly competitive IITs and IIMs. They can't possibly absorb the whole of our nation's youth. If 5000 per year IITians and IIM's can shake the world then imagine what 500,000 similarly well-educated Indians can do- perhaps rightly take over the world!!

Beyond books and brick-walls: we need to greatly increase the industry-academic interface by bringing in the Industry into the Academic systems and syllabi. Systems need to be corporatized and made professional while syllabi need to be revisited and reconciled with the world of practice.

Beyond plain- vanilla "BA, B.Com": we have to move away on too much emphasis and (false) Honor associated with a university degree. In fact, the mindless perpetuation of the classic B.A, M. A; B.Sc, M.Sc, B Com etc . Degrees has resulted in a scenario wherein over 5.3 million university graduates are today found utterly unemployable by the industry. Therefore, we must bring greater credibility, authenticity, and substance to vocational training at the secondary level even if it means changing the terminology to change perceptions .' Vocational education' is the pariah of higher education: it is perceived as being for lower-class jobs and hence avoided by youth.

Vinay Rai the president of Think India Foundation believes that, vocational education and training have the potential of transforming India in the future. Where else will the world get these skill-sets if not from India? But if and only if we revamp our educational system by providing education and training that is relevant to the world requirements. We cannot and must not only look at our shores alone.

The whole world is our marketplace to be usefully employed.  In most of the developed countries nearly 95% of the youth between the ages of 15 to 25 years, learn a trade or skill or a competence. India has a figure of less than 1%. Even if at any given time 3 to 5% of the population becomes a part of any vocational training programme, it would translate into 30 to 50 million people per year. In manufacturing and service sectors there are hundreds of skills for which there is a worldwide shortage of manpower. Millions of trained people are required d   in the area of services of agriculture, floriculture, entertainment, industrial services, textiles, healthcare,  hospitality,  tourism, etc. and hundreds of skills in the manufacturing sector.  

Beyond household investment in education: If the government of India can give a sovereign guarantee to foreign companies like Enron to generate power and Malaysian companies to build Highways then in a Knowledge world it can certainly give a sovereign guarantee to its Citizens to avail of non-collateral Bank loans to educate its children. Yes it costs a lot to educate and institutions have to charge rational costs but these can easily be earned to students through better jobs and employment. Scholarships should be given on purely need basis for the real needy and downtrodden. This should be applicable to all institutes whether in private or government.  the government should use its limited resources for primary and secondary education and encourage investment into higher education by private players with simultaneous implementation of proper accreditation processes.

Evidently, the status quo in higher education just cannot be sustainable. The example of the US has amply demonstrated the success of such an open system wherein the government's efforts are very adequately supplemented through by the private and non-governmental sectors. Not only has this tried and tested system adequately dealt with the issue of providing a diversity of courses to the largest numbers but has also brought in the most effective mechanisms to deal with issues of quality and funding.

Though the quality monitoring agencies will be initially required to play an important role, eventually, it will be the  continued practice of openness, transparency and natural responsibility that will automatically enforce quality in educational institutions. Through highly aware communities, and through increased competition amidst market-forces, utmost accountability and efficiency will be ensured.

Indeed, an open education sector is essential to keep alive innovation, creativity, and enterprise. In short, it is indispensable to India leading the way in the global knowledge economy. With government budget and attention more focused toward primary education (and rightly so), we must mobilize competition and collaboration in the private as well as non-governmental sectors to step in and address suitably both the quality and quantity lacunae in the higher education sector. Anything less will not allow us to be a Knowledge Super Power and a world leader in the coming years. Education holds the key to the knowledge economy. The high quality of people is the new Oil reserve of today.

According to Vinay Rai the president of (Centre for Public Policy), It's all about our own Mindsets, our Hearts, and our Attitudes. Like in all other areas EduCare-education with care and concern for values and societal needs will only come about with a change in attitudes and mindsets. This Change we owe to our Children.  - Vinay Rai

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