It’s Time to have our own Oxfords and Cambridge’s

Says, Mahesh Tejwani, President, Vivekanand Education Society, Mumbai, in an interaction with Ekta Srivastava, Education…

We would like to know the journey of Vivekananda Education Society, from inception till date.

Vivekanand Education Society started its educational activities in 1962 with 256 students in a high School. Today the Society runs 26 institutions which include Primary and High Schools, Degree College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Polytechnic, Engineering College, College for Management Studies, Pharmacy College and Law College with over 20,000 students on its roll. VES also provides differentiated skill-based training to students across diverse disciplines through one of its institutes. All its affiliated institutes are equipped with amenities like modern library facilities, recreation centers and free WIFI connections. We strictly follow a value-based admission policy where merit is given preference. We also have an in-house sports academy for training students to enhance their fitness levels.

VES through its various educational institutions over the past 54 years has helped nurture an intellectual endeavor that focuses on critical and creative thinking, with the aim of social transformation, inculcating both human and spiritual values in students. Competence, compassion and commitment are the hallmarks of an individual we seek to encourage.

VES and its institutes believe not only in academic excellence but also in the overall development of our students. With high moral values, our students blend professionalism and a sense of social responsibility so as to be recongnized as dutiful citizens of the country. VES strictly follows and strongly believes in – No management quota, no capitation fees or donations for admissions in any form, it’s pure learning and sharing continuing to work for academic excellence

Since its inception, Vivekanand Education Society (VES), Chembur has established new milestones in the field of education and started newer vistas of learning for students. This is an institution where knowledge is treated as an empowering tool to equip students to become the model citizens of tomorrow. VES also operates an on-campus crèche for taking care of children whose parents are working.

What are the new situations and corresponding problems Indian education societies face nowadays.

Of late it has been found that students join for higher studies without any serious intent. Also, there are very few institutions in India that are giving quality education so as to inculcate the learning skills amongst students.

We need great improvement in the higher education system in India. We boast that India would rank third among all countries by 2020 in the education sector. But if we need to aspire to achieve global standards we need to go a long way. It is time we overhaul the system in such a way that we will have students from abroad flying from other countries to pursue higher education. We need to have our own Oxfords and Cambridge’s.

There should be an increase in the budgetary allocation by the government. The present allocation as per 2012 plan is about 6% which is not enough so as to improve the quality of the education sector.

Equally important is the need to constantly update the syllabus on a global standard which will help students adapt with the changing market scenarios and the ever-evolving global standards. They should make education liberal, introduce new practices and research work and update the course curriculum more often.

Our country is in a profound transition and the development of education society is related closely to that of society and times. So what should universities change and what should not?

India has made great strides in boosting its higher educational infrastructure; there are 723 universities and more than 37,000 colleges. However, many of our institutes lack quality that denies students world-class education,”

There are so many issues that plague Indian universities. It is a fact that our higher education field has expanded rapidly in the recent past. But the quality of such institutions leaves much to be desired. None of Indian institutions are ranked in the top 200 positions by reputed international surveys. So, why hasn’t any Indian university or educational institution figured in the top 200 of the list? We need to improve the quality of teaching and research. We should examine why Singapore and Chinese universities have achieved so well. It’s due to the fact they are research-oriented universities.

Indian institutions are almost young compared to almost all great universities in the UK and the US which are over a century old. Oxford was founded in 1167 AD, Cambridge in 1209, Harvard in 1636, Yale in 1701, which bring them the inherent advantage of making use of the accumulated benefit of centuries of infrastructure, earned wisdom, experienced and world-class faculty, alumni, and global reputation. So, Indian universities need to go the extra mile to make up for these entire lacunas.

Under new situations and challenges, what relationships should universities pay more attention to in the process of innovative development?

Government funding of university research is poor in India, only behind countries such as South Africa and Brazil. India is lacking in ground-breaking researches due to the lack of substantial investment in the field of innovative research. Both the quality and quantity of research is poor. Global university rankings often take into account the quality of research conducted by universities. Sadly most Indian universities don’t focus on research. This means that there are only 15 researchers per 100,000 people, placing India among the bottom five countries in this regard. We also lack a technology transfer legislation that would enable the transfer of know-how from university research labs to the private sector for commercialization. Western countries and even developing countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa have legislation which enables licensing and transfer of economically significant innovations to commercial markets. So it is time for us to replicate the same in our country.

As a researcher and also a practitioner in education, could you share with us your experiences in university education and administration?

It’s been an enriching and equally rewarding experience to oversee the education and administration scenarios. I gained a lot during the course of my journey.

 Do you think eLearning can help in educational progress in a vast country like India? Does Vivekananda Education Society use it?

eLearning is the way to go in a country as vast as India with its huge population. Even today people living in the hinterlands of the country have no access to formal education and a eLearning can provide a world-class learning experience when traditional mode of higher education becomes almost impossible due to personal or financial constraints.

What support do you plan for the government’s skill development initiative?

We have initiated skill development activities in VES schools & colleges. We have tied up with Skill Academy Ltd Delhi for sourcing the CSR funds for promoting Skill programs for underprivileged children who were deprived of completing their education. We have associated with TATA group, HPCL and Maharashtra Government schemes for courses like Beauticians, Electricians, Plumbers, Retail & Banking and so on. As a social responsibilities of the Education institutions we support Pradhan Mantri’s Kaushalya Yojana & NSDC programs for the societal developments.

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