Education System in India: My Perspective

Here are some excerpts of my comments on a discussion going on Linkedin.com.   The discussion was started by Sanjeev Nagar, when he raised a point, “When the industry says–Students are not ‘Industry ready’, what are the parameters?”

For me the question was very interesting and important in a way, so I started with the following comments:

COMMENT-1:

Rajneesh Kumar

The strange vantage points are in the air.  Who is the culprit?

Yes, very complex it is.

At one end is the supply side, which is producing students/candidates who are seemingly not fit for professional/industry-jobs. They are focused only in numbers of admissions and revenue collection; Education & its quality of delivery & content is least important in their considerations.

At other end, the demand side is Industry itself who is supposed to absorb what is being supplied to them. Who is the culprit? Either none or both.

What does give right to so called industry people, to make a fuss about ‘they are not industry ready’ or ‘Educational institutions are not incorporating industry inputs’? If it is attitudinal problem, then it is with both sides.

How many times you’ve find that HR departments are really doing the job of developing the Human Resource? When are they doing HR in larger strategic context?

In India, the HR is just reduced to fill up (quick-fix) the left vacancies. The approach to mentoring and succession and talent acquisition is widely & extensively missed. When the HR parameters are only meant to quickly fill up the vacant job, then how can they over emphasize it and expect it from the new-comers. Some times it would take only 3-6 months for a reasonable candidate to develop as per the exact requirements of an organization, but why to spend these 3-6 months’ salaries on a candidate, instead they opt to ready-made solution to their current problem.

How many working professionals are granted a leave/vocation of 6 months to 1 year for sabbaticals or skill-enhancement without worrying for their jobs when they come back? None.

It is ruthlessness that is at the core of such non-alignment. Another thing, very very very few people have actually EYE to spot the talent of any kind–regardless of what it is? Most of the working professionals would curse the management/HR for not being able to chalk a growth-path for them. They witness everyday phenomenon that good jobs are filled up by getting a professional from outside of the company, not by developing the inside talent or succession planning. Are they not ‘Industry Ready’?

Remember it is all chaos there.

Who the culprit is?

COMMENT-2:  The First Area Of Thought

Rajneesh Kumar • No one seems to be able to put his/her finger on the real causes, because it is far too complex and messy. Let us get the movement of thoughts correctly. First, I would re-mention the initial point made by Arnabb Bhattacharjee, “Who’ll take the pride to make students Industry Ready….. ?” Please ponder upon the underlying issue here little deeply.

Here are three segments involved–Academia, Industry and The student. Out of these three who should take the onus of making students ‘Industry Ready’. This is the first thought area.

If the academia is not serving with Job-oriented knowledge & skills, does the onus of making himself/herself industry-ready lies only with the student? When the Industry itself is not able to define well what it needs from a new-comer coming out of Academia, does the onus of making himself/herself industry-ready still lies only with the student?

Yes, when the academia and industry both are NOT serving the objectives well, you would state that now the onus of making himself/herself industry ready is left with the student only. That’s exactly what is happening.

Even if you observe all the comments starting from the origin of this thread to the last comment including my own previous comment, we have just presumed that the major onus lies with the student only. Please note: THEY ARE TRYING THEIR BEST TO DO IT ALREADY. When they are not able to get what it needs to be industry ready, they are opting for all possible kind of vocational-training institutes. But again this segment of the equation (fourth one) is also not doing its job well; they also are not able to make students industry ready even after charging huge prices. (I myself have worked for this segment for last 11+ years). What else do we all expect the student to do? That’s not fair.

I strongly believe that we should spare the student from this equation, because he is already trying his best whatever way he can.

Now we are left with three remaining segments of the equation. Lets deal with them one-by-one.

Please observe my follow up comments.

COMMENT-3:

Rajneesh Kumar • The Second Area Of Thought

Academia: They are the institutions who are being governed by UGC or various Universities or Govt. Departments, usually not having any control over their syllabus or content they deliver. This is a kind of hindrance as far as adopting the specific requirements of the industry is concerned, as Manish Aggarwal has correctly indicated. Even the privately managed institutions face the similar problems.

Here we have two-fold problems. One, there is the absence of mechanisms at academic institutions or bodies to incorporate industry requirements into syllabus. Another thing, the people whom we meet at academic bodies usually, are not those people who would have necessary authority or access to bring about desired changes in their curriculum or teaching methodologies.

Even if they have, they would not be able to weight the various skill-requirements expressed by industry-people. For an example, if during a campus interview season, say 5- IT/Software Development companies visit the institute (for BCA/MCA), and each company indicates 5-different skills which should be emphasized–JSP & EJB, .Net/ASP, C & C++, Linux & Java, SQL Server & Oracle. Now you tell me that how can the academic people be able to bring about changes in their BCA/MCA curriculum. They would say that they were already teaching all these things. Where is the problem? The problem is that they are not able to assign right weights on these 5-set of possible areas of skills, even the 5-companies cannot assist them here, because for each of them their generalized opinions or requirements are more important over others. Similar problems are faced when different soft-skills are emphasized in general.

Please observe my follow up comments.

COMMENT-4:   The Third Area Of Thought

Rajneesh Kumar • Rajeev Jain has correctly stated in his comment, “Just like not everyone in the industry is really competent to give right inputs to academia”; I would like to add that “Most of those in academia are really not competent to train students as per corporate needs”.

Industry: Most of the industry-stated requirements are highly lucid as far as Technical Skills are concerned, and change very very frequently. Even the other so called emphasized parameters such as Communication Skills, Attitude, Hard work, Awareness, Global Outlook, etc are mere generalized opinions expressed by people who have crossed the threshold.

But the fact of the matter is that even the people sitting in corporate board-rooms are not able to define their skills’ requirements in clear & exact terms. Even if it is done, it is most often based upon emergency or short-term needs; never from a broader perspective or strategic orientation. Most of the time, they don’t make right assessment of the un-utilized skills of their current manpower in a way that many people working with them are rendered as ‘Not Industry-Ready’.

A Gross fact about the way the Industry operates in India, is that we just have misplaced importance on finding out ‘WHAT’ to do for our businesses, and in the process we have lost the correct importance of ‘WHO’ (read: people) element in our thought processes. Once we start making right definition (to our HR) of what type of employees we want our company to acquire and nurture, then we would be able to define what base-level of skills these prospective employees should have to join our companies. Only then our Industry would be able to train them over specific skills and groom them for particular requirements.

Please observe my follow up comments.

COMMENT-5:  The Fourth Area Of Thought

Rajneesh Kumar • Vocational Training.

The whole ideology of Vocational Training has lost its very meaning in India. The failing of Academia was the gap these vocational training institutes were supposed to fill up, but did they? I don’t think so. If Academia is plagued by bureaucratic pitfalls & lack of skills, the vocational training segment is plagued heavily by money-motivation.

Because of the fundamental model they adopted or better to say, forced to adopted, they followed the foot-prints of giants like NIIT, Aptech etc, essentially making such institutions money-spinning machines only where the student has been treated very unfairly. Not only he had placed more faith over these institutions, but paid very heavily also in the expectation that they would assist him in acquiring skills which Academia failed to do. The end we pursue here is Money, Money and Money only, whereas it should have been Job-placement, after making him Industry-ready. The mean we focus is students admissions/enrollments (in terms of numbers), where the mean should have the process of delivering skills.

Just floating a new company and making a curriculum by copying the contents from books or competition and then tweaking it a little to claim it as your original content is the vicious starting point for such ventures. Ideally it should have come from very close understanding of the industry segment it wishes to cater to and SHOULD BE BACKED BY HARD SURVEYS & FINDINGS ABOUT INDUSTRY REQUIREMENTS ON ON-GOING BASIS. Merely claiming so would not solve the problem.

The identification of crucial contents should go a little deeper and some more pain should be taken.

How?

Lets take an example, if we find that in our curriculum of computer/IT course, JSP & EJB, SQL & Oracle should be emphasized, then the real job is not only to include those subjects (macro-contents) in our curriculum as they might already be there, but the real job & a badly managed area is to find out the most crucial aspects/skills/knowledge about these technologies (micro-contents) which should be well inculcated in the students so that they don’t miss the most crucial aspect of the expected skill.

Assigning the importance to various competing factors/sub-contents (macro and micro-contents) should be the most important cog in the design of Vocational Trainings as well as Academic qualifications, but it is sorely missed in our systems. And it should not be done by academicians or faculties or departments, it should ‘essentially’ stem from the industry research only.

Then the most important thing would come from the PROCESS of how we deliver the correctly identified industry expectations or skills or contents–not only one time, but every single time, in every single city.

Do you feel if any of three segments we discussed in this section, has a right mechanism in place anywhere? NO–I hope we all would be agreeing.

SUMMING IT UP:

If we are seeking to bring about the right changes in the system (on smaller or larger level), then we should not think of identifying few most important parameters to change or to include so as to make the student Industry-ready. We may end up building a laundry-list of parameters to think about and we would be confused as ever, wishing to do something right, but not being able to.

Instead, regardless of what segment of the equation we are serving, we should only think of bring about ‘Inside-Out’ improvements in our relevant processes. Because only 2-3 or 4 factors are NOT to be changed, but just about every thing calls for ‘continuous improvements’ there.  Yes, the Continuous Improvements is the key!

And it must come INSIDE-OUT only, which could be brought by RIGHT PEOPLE only.   No other way round!

Thank you all,

RK

COMMENT-6:  (made after many days)

Rajneesh Kumar • I had been continuously observing this thread from the time it started, but it was quite disheartening to see that for last 5 days, no gentleman has added any more comments here.

I don’t know what Sanjeev (Initiator of this thread) has got from the discussions till now. Though we all have appreciated the comments we received from all the gentlemen, but where we do stand now as far as this issue is concerned.

Have we got a concise list of parameters we were seeking? If yes, should it be shared or compiled?

Don’t know….

Is there more clarity about it now?

Don’t know…..

Is the issue still very complex in our minds as was earlier?

Don’t know…..

Is the future of students or industry readiness still unpredictable?

Don’t know for sure…….

Gentlemen, we all are agreeing on one point that this issue is close to our hearts, but so is it to every informed citizen. In general, they also don’t have a clear-idea of parameters this question of industry readiness raises. How can we, a small bunch of people?

Sharing views on this thread is a thing, but being equipped with essential methodology to bring about necessary information is quite another. Please ponder upon this fact that we individually are not equipped with necessary skills to dig this information out. We believe that we all in ourselves are informed citizens having opinions just about anything. We are……………………….but so is the case with Academic & Industry Stalwarts. Where is the difference? No Difference.

As we are not equipped correctly, they also are not. Thus I believe very strongly that acquiring such skills….which can assist in digging this information out…..should be our first step in moving in this direction. We also need to endorse the fact that the information we are seeking is not static in its nature, rather very dynamic. It would vastly vary in its scope & importance as per the domains in question.

But whatever we can do or would do, our grand guiding philosophy should be based upon the principles of Product Development. The students/candidates should be treated in our thought process as Product in themselves, made to meet the requirements of Industry, the customer, per say. Products are not system or process in themselves, they are mere output. Their failure to meet industry requirement in any case is not their failure, it is the failure of school, college, and institution producing them.  This was the reason when I wrote that they should be kept out of equation (previous comments). Until we do this, we would conventionally keep blaming students for their failure to become industry-ready.

Another thing, Manpower requirement projections done by IDC, Nasscom or any other body have very little meaning. For last 10-12 years, I have been witnessing these data, but they don’t get translated in improved Education delivery system. They are there for long…….

Lets see another facet of data, Education system & major players are ONLY interested in one data, i.e., business potential of education segments. For example, nowadays K-12 segment is the focus of all education plans, but only because of its magnitude of size and business potential, not for the question we are wrestling with. They want to harness technology to en-cash the business potential actually. Digitalization or animation of contents is hallmark of the day today….. Who is equipped with what expertise, and where they would lead the students and us…..I don’t know…

Above all, we all need to do a rigorous reality-check first.

With thanks,

Rajneesh Kumar
Mobile: +91 98106-63271
Join my network of Leaders, Managers, Sales Professionals, Educationists, Trainers, CLO, Management Consultants, Six Sigma Professionals, Marketing Professionals, etc at:http://in.linkedin.com/in/rajneeshkumar1

(You can visit to this discussion on the following link and contribute: http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=40924744&gid=938347&commentID=31887388&trk=view_disc)

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About Rajneessh Kumar

A Marketing Professional with 16+ years of working experience
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3 Responses to Education System in India: My Perspective

  1. Sharanu says:

    Thanks for your time sir… Yes education is a sociopolitical question which is highly dependent on socioeconomic circumstances..To modify the system we can only do lip service and talk only..We can not do anything at such macroscopic issues but I am afraid if we analyze a part of question such as making students industry ready without understanding the socioeconomic circumstance we are trying to live in a comfort zone ..but that is the dilemma if we want to solve a specific problem in actual terms we have to adress the root cause now if the root cause turns out to be something like “poverty of India” what can we do..So we should work for containment action may be to start at elite end let the Industry involve IITs ,let the PhDs be on practical technological problem again this is lipservice and an engagement with language may be my english gets better by writing this 🙂

  2. Sharanu P says:

    Dear Sir,

    I like the idea of treating students as products and the process of education itself as Product development process. But I think it is very limited in its scope and fundamentally flawed in approach
    Now, with this if we are considering the question of “Industry Readiness” we are analyzing those products (I mean students) which have come out of a particular kind of Process which is processed in cities
    Surely it is a problem worth tackling… This particular process of education in cities is very specific the inputs I mean raw students are quite unique and hence the output and the customers are also very much defined.

    Considering the customer requirement i.e considering the corporate requirement and capturing the voice of customer we can define Process and Product characteristics and define Controls both Process and Product including Preventive and Detective controls to the process we can evolve a Six sigma approach of Educating.

    Of course we need to do FMEA to assess risks.

    Taking this idea further we can even think of Make to Order products, So with robust corporate planning a Corporate can order say 100 Mechanical Engineers, 10000 unskilled labors etc they place the order to schools and schools can produce those products with, Schools can device methodologies to categorize which can be audited by corporate… specific customer orders with defined specifications and statistically controlled products.. A six sigma design…

    But if we want to generalize this and by doing this if we are assuming that. We are answering the question of “education in India” we are making a serious mistake.

    First thing we should not generalize, second thing we should not be under illusion of answering “Question of Education – a Sociological and a much broader question than producing products to corporate.

    Why we should not generalize…..Just because the sample which we have chosen for analysis is not sufficiently random. We have chosen a specific sample of Metros Cities that too the children of salaried corporate workers working in organized sectors….. for any statistical analysis if data is not Random results are bound to be wrong so we need to make our assumptions very clear what are we analyzing ….
    What is the alternate we need to take a random sample…with more than 80% of population in India having less than 20 INR a day a random sample would predominantly include a poor population which may not know what is “Corporate”
    The problem then is not how to make Industry Ready because with this sample we may come to the conclusion that Problem definition itself has to change…
    We have to back to Define stage and define the problem it relevantly… May be “To make this population basic education and help them to improve their present condition” or “To increase their awareness about their rights” “Teach them basic trades to help them to live a decent life” etc…

    • Dear P Sharanu,

      Thanks for sparing many minutes to go through what I’ve written. Well you seem to have a fair understanding of Six Sigma Methodology. You’ve indicated towards many aspects where it could be used in Education.

      As far as treating students as products is concerned, it has one more way of looking at. In world-class industries, it brings a great intensity when their products/services are not meeting customers’ requirements, and they just don’t leave any stone unturned to make it correct. This INTENSITY is absolutely an alien phenomenon in Education domain in India. Because it puts the absolute onus of developing industry-ready students on itself.

      I’m agree with you. Yes, there are various demographic/psycho-graphic segments of this education sector, all of them would require various approaches & education models as per relevance.

      But I’m averse of talking about Education in India as a whole and to find a single solution/approach/model which fits all. I don’t think that any such model would exist ever. You’ve mentioned a small thought– ” developing responsible,capable,healthy individuals with good cultural values”
      Scope of the project should include” All citizens of India”. This exactly I’m not interested into. See, when we do start discussing such things, it just remains as a discussion–an interesting but not direction or productive discussion; mere intellectual curiosity is satisfied.

      As in Six Sigma, the whole must be dissected into smaller and much smaller projects, where the scope of effort can effectively be controlled. instead of talking from ‘macroscopic’ perspective, I would appreciate if various education institutions and initiatives can hing upon measurable metrics. For example, all the engineering institutions can seek to develop insights from Voice of Customer to understand the recurring demands over the academic content, syllabus, expected skills, etc and then improvise upon all the internal processes to meet those demands. All other approaches from six sigma also can be used whenever there is a scope of it. That is the reason that ‘micro-scopic’ approach would yield more results. It would turn true in case of all type skill-expectations–professional, skilled or semi-skilled labour.

      With thanks,

      RK

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