India needs a world class higher education system: Vice President

Bengaluru: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that a world-class higher education system was the need of the hour. Addressing students and faculty members of REVA University after inaugurating the State-of-the-art Architecture Block in the campus at Bengaluru today, he said that India’s quest for development would remain unfulfilled if we fail to create opportunities for quality higher education till the last mile.

Pointing out that concerns have been raised over the imbalance between excellence and inclusion, the Vice President called for revamping of higher education system to make more equitable and inclusive.

Shri Naidu said that we have tremendous talent amongst us and we cannot afford to let this talent lie dormant due to lack of avenues for quality education, especially higher education and skill training. He called for putting vulnerable sections of our population, the women, the differently-abled and the economically weak at the center of our strategy to expand higher education.

Observing that rapid industrialization and economic growth would create opportunities for around 250 million skilled workforces by 2030, Shri Naidu asserted that India would emerge as the global supplier of skilled manpower in the coming years.

The Vice President said that despite the progress made from the time of Independence, higher education system in India still suffers from a number of lacunae ranging from inadequate enrolment to quality issues to lack of equity and insufficient infrastructure. Observing that research was the cornerstone of higher education systems world over, the Vice President called upon institutions of high learning to create an environment for students to be innovative and creative.

Saying that advanced research was the way forward for India’s higher education, Shri Naidu called upon colleges and universities to equip their institutions with latest technologies and re-invent the teaching methodology.

The Vice President wanted institutions of higher education to focus on nurturing students with employable skills. He also suggested them to actively promote linkages between academic institutions, the industry, and the government to prepare students to suit the demands of the industry and train them to perform new age jobs.

The Chancellor of REVA University, Dr. P. Shyama Raju, the Vice Chancellor of REVA University, Dr. S.Y. Kulakarni, the Registrar of the University, Dr. M. Dhanamjaya, the Trustees of the University, Shri Bhasker Raju and Umesh Raju and other dignitaries were present at the event.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

” I am delighted to be here at REVA today, a campus that is a nucleus of brimming activity, amidst some of the brightest minds of the country.

Your campus is a true manifestation of the strong surge of energy and vigor of a young India.

Let me congratulate Dr Shyama Raju for his dedicated service to the nation in the field of education.

One of the most effective ways to cement a nation’s pathway towards growth and development is through a robust framework for quality professional education, an endeavour that is being taken to fruition by Dr Shyama Raju and his dedicated team.

I am glad to hear that REVA educates a large number of students from rural background. I am sure that REVA and its team of dedicated faculty will offer nothing but the best to every single one of its students.

My dear friends,

I am delighted to inaugurate the Architecture block of REVA University today.

I am told that this campus of REVA is home to 15000 talented students studying in diverse disciplines such as Engineering, Architecture, Management, Commerce, Humanities, Legal Studies and Performing Arts.

I firmly believe that students from varying disciplines should study together and interact with one another as frequently as possible to develop wider perspectives and accommodate contrarian view points.

This is, after all, the era of interdisciplinary studies. Aristotle once said, ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it’.

My dear sisters and brothers,

In ancient India, the ‘Gurukula’ system of education thrived, where students resided in the ashrams or the homes of the Gurus.

The very word ‘Gurukula’ is a combination of two words, ‘Guru’, the master and the ‘kula’, the home. Students were not discriminated against on the basis of caste or creed and every student was involved in the activities of the ashrama.

The Gurukula was a place of acceptance, of harmony and of brotherhood and camaraderie, a safe haven for all those who pursued wisdom.

Your ‘Kula’ or home has been built well, it is now upto the Gurus and the shishyas to ensure that they make the best use of the facilities available here.

Let this abode of wisdom and scholarship become the modern day Gurukula where there is no place for prejudices and where the light of learning will dispel the darkness of all human vices.

My dear young friends,

Today India needs a world class higher education system, a mission that is of paramount importance, especially in the light of the burgeoning youth population in the country.

India has one of the youngest populations in the world and the window of demographic dividend opportunity is available for five decades from 2005-06 to 2055-56, longer than any other country in the world.

India will have the second largest graduate talent pipeline globally by the end of the year 2020. India’s economy is also expected to grow at a fast pace. Rapid industrialization would require a workforce of around 250 million by 2030.

India will certainly emerge as a global supplier of skilled manpower.

We have tremendous talent amongst us. We cannot afford to let this talent lie dormant due to lack of avenues for quality education, especially higher education and skill training.

According to World Bank estimates, India’s higher education system is the world’s third largest in terms of students, next to China and the United States.

Very soon, India will be one of the largest education hubs and learning destinations in the world.

India’s Higher Education sector has witnessed a tremendous growth in the number of Universities, University level Institutions and Colleges since Independence.

But we have a long way to go. Our higher education system still suffers from a number of lacunae ranging from inadequate enrolment to quality issues to lack of equity and insufficient infrastructure.

While it is true that access to quality higher education has improved in the last decade with more IITs, IIMs and Central and State-level universities being established, concerns have been raised about the imbalance between excellence and inclusion.

Let me remind you that our quest for development will remain unfulfilled if we fail to create opportunities for quality higher education till the last mile. Vulnerable sections of our population, the women, the differently-abled and the economically weak should be at the centre of our strategy to expand higher education.

Today, we are in the middle of Industry 4.0. There is widespread disruption due to technology and automation that are changing the nature of jobs and learning and we have to adapt fast to the changing scenario.

We need to create campuses that are integrated with latest technologies, which empower students to innovate and create. India should be a technology leader and not a follower.

New fields such as cyber security, robotics, digital technology, artificial intelligence, data-science, block chain and internet of things have the potential to transform the world. In this context, India must be innovative in approach and work out policies to boost research and optimally tap the demographic potential.

Statistics reveal that there were only 216 researchers per million in 2015. India’s investment in research is 0.62 per cent of its GDP. These numbers are well below global standards.

Research is the cornerstone of higher education systems world over. Advancing research should be the way forward for India’s higher education.

There is also a need to re-invent the teaching methodology in our centers of higher education.

The world is now experimenting with several effective teaching methodologies such as e-learning, simulation and role-playing, problem based learning and blended learning. India must also adopt best practices from all over the world to improve instruction.

There is also a need to train our teachers and equip them with better skill-sets and latest tools to effectively educate students in this era of digital technologies.

Institutions of higher education must also focus on nurturing employable skills.

The new Annual Employability Survey 2019 report by Aspiring Minds reveals that 80% of Indian engineers are unsuited for any job in the knowledge economy and only 2.5% of them possess tech skills in Artificial Intelligence (AI) that industry requires.

This is a matter of great concern.

Ad-hoc changes and quick fix solutions will not remedy the problem of employability. We have to actively promote linkages between academic institutions, the industry and the government so that we succeed in preparing our graduates to suit the demands of the industry and perform new age jobs.

Students must also be encouraged to undertake internships, live projects and corporate interactions which provide practical insights into how the industry operates and expose them to workplace realities. Current estimates say that less than 40% of our engineering graduates opt for internships.

I am very happy to know that REVA University has its own Industry Interaction Centre.

Quality education in India is still very expensive. Education should not be a business, but must be looked upon as a mission to build a better world.

Institutions of higher education have the potential to become the most crucial change agents in the society. Education is a powerful tool to reduce or eliminate income and wealth disparities.

I would also urge the Indian universities to continually engage and collaborate with world class academic institutions in different parts of the world.

The world is a global village and we have to ensure that we mould global, cosmopolitan citizens who are at ease in any part of the world.

My dear young friends,

I do not, for a second, believe that education is meant solely for employment. Education has a much higher purpose.

Education teaches us values, stimulates our intellect, develops tolerance and encourages us to question the absurd and equips us to contribute to the growth of the human society. True education opens up your mind and trains you to think critically, practically and creatively. It fosters empathy, kindness and humility.

I understand that the School of Architecture at REVA is participating in the Smart City Project. I am sure that your contribution in planning of cities, ensuring sustainability and energy conservation will bring about a paradigm shift in urban planning.

I hope this University continues to provide quality education and remains committed to the pursuit of excellence.

I wish you all the best in all your future endeavors!

[“source=indiaeducationdiary”]

The Best Entertainment System Gear

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Forbes may earn affiliate commissions.

A solid home entertainment system should have essential gear that seamlessly works together and enhances your viewing and listening experience. Here are a few of our favorite recommendations to get you started.

Vizio P-Series F1Rozette Rago

LCD/LED TV: Vizio P-Series F1

The Vizio P-Series F1 is our pick for the best LCD/LED TV, as it offers the best  HDR experience we’ve seen from Vizio. The P-Series F1 has a wide color gamut, full-array local dimming, and movies and shows were shown with high-quality backlighting and brightness during our testing. In comparison to competitor models we tested, it has more HDMI inputs, plus it supports Google Home and Alexa. The P-Series F1 also comes with Chromecast support which allows you to stream content from a phone or tablet. We like that it has a basic, easy-to-use interface and a game mode which lowers input lag.

Shop Now: $800

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TCL 65R617Photo Courtesy of Wirecutter

Budget 4K TV: TCL 65R617

For a great, inexpensive set that has all the features we expect in a modern 4K TV, we recommend the TCL 65R617. It’s equipped with HDR support and better image quality than many pricier competitors. During testing, we found that the 65R617 had far more local dimming zones than similar models in its price range and it offers contrast ratio, resolution, and brightness that make for a superior viewing experience. We like that its Wi-Fi remote has a built-in headphone jack for listening without disturbing others, and love that you don’t need to buy a separate Roku streaming stick. If your space calls for a 4K budget model that’s slightly smaller, we recommend the 55-inch version—the TCL 55R617.

Shop Now: $1,000

Definitive Technology W Studio MicroKyle Fitzgerald

Soundbar: Definitive Technology W Studio Micro

The Definitive Technology W Studio Micro is the perfect soundbar for most TVs because it has a simplistic design, an 8-inch subwoofer that offers impressive sound, and access to streaming services via DTS Play-Fi. During testing, our entire panel chose it as a favorite for listening to music but it also reproduces deep, textured bass which improves movie-watching experiences. It’s a breeze to set up and easy to use on a day-to-day basis, plus it has an array of connection options including two optical digital audio inputs. The W Studio Micro isn’t Bluetooth enabled, but can be controlled over Wi-Fi or with its intuitive IR remote. If you’re looking for a home theater speaker system that’s primarily for watching movies, and one that offers bigger, enveloping sound, we recommend the ELAC Debut 5.1 System.

Shop Now: $900

Photo courtesy of WirecutterSony VPL-HW45ES

1080p Projector: Sony VPL-HW45ES

A good projector can take your home entertainment setup to the next level and the Sony VPL-HW45ES is the best 1080p projector for a dedicated home theater. It’s a great option if you don’t need to stream 4K video and its color accuracy, contrast, and image quality is top-notch. It runs quiet and its lens is flexible which makes it easy to install. Professional calibration isn’t an absolute must as it comes with a built-in image reference preset straight out of the box. Although the VPL-HW45ES lacks an Ethernet port and analog video inputs, its provided features come at a decent price and of all the projectors we tested, it has one of the lowest lag rates.

Photo: Kyle Fitzgerald

Shop Now: $2,000

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI CableKyle Fitzgerald

HDMI cable: AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable

While an entertainment system is usually jam packed with speakers, a TV, and similar gear, simple additions will come in handy when completing your setup. The AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable is sturdy, reliable, and inexpensive. It’s also compatible with all video sources and any UHD 4K TV. We think that a 3-foot cord is long enough to connect your gear to a soundbar, TV, or receiver, but if you need a longer option, it’s available in lengths of 6, 10, 15 and 25 feet.

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These picks may have been updated. Click through to see the current recommendations or availability updates for the best gear for building your home theater, the best 4K TV on a budget, the best soundbar, the best LCD/LED TV,  the best projectors, and great, cheap HDMI cables.

Wirecutter is a list of the best gear and gadgets for people who want to save the time and stress of figuring out what to buy. Our recommendations are made through vigorous reporting, interviewing, and testing by teams of veteran journalists, scientists, and researchers.

[“source=TimeOFIndia”]

Restructuring the public school system

The state governments should act as facilitators to the process of school rationalization. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

The state governments should act as facilitators to the process of school rationalization. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Indian public schools are seeing a systemic decline in enrolment, resulting in the massive growth of small and tiny government schools. According to a recent article by economist Geeta Kingdon, 419,000 (40%) of government schools had total enrolment less than 50, and 108,000 schools (10.3%) were “tiny” schools with enrolment of less than 20. Although the Indian public school system has addressed the problem of access, it has failed to withstand competition from private schools. These failures of the public school system call for an overhaul of the structure of schooling in India, especially at a time when the new education policy (NEP) is being drafted by the Kasturirangan committee.

Physical access to neighbourhood schools is now a reality, with 96% of the villages having an elementary school within a radius of 3km. However, physical access does not ensure adequate learning. Ten years of annual survey of education report (Aser) surveys and national achievement surveys by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) have revealed a nationwide learning crisis. The first to exit dysfunctional public schools are those from better socio-economic classes, and the disadvantaged suffer. Studies have revealed that students drop out mainly because schools are not attractive physically and pedagogically. Better learning outcomes need functional schools—not just mere physical access.

The right to education (RTE) Act has defined norms for providing functional access such as pupil-teacher ratio, teacher qualification and infrastructure facilities such as availability of toilets, drinking water, library and playgrounds. However, in addition, we need enough teachers and staff per school, subject teachers in the higher grades, and pedagogical support for the teaching-learning process to make the schools functional.

The complex school organization structure across different levels, such as primary, upper primary and secondary schools, and multiple managements (within government and private) break the continuity in schooling, leading to higher dropout rates. There is no need to have separate primary-only schools when the constitutional mandate is completion of primary and upper-primary classes up to class VIII. With universalization of secondary education on the table, schools from primary to secondary should be integrated and secondary education should integrate vocational education to provide gainful employment.

Composite schools can be created through vertical integration across levels and a consolidation of neighbourhood schools to increase school size, ensure better rationalization of teachers and avoid multi-grade teaching. Consolidation brings efficiency, provides better facilities, trained teachers, more comprehensive curriculum, broader extracurricular activities and diverse social experience.

Many states such, as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, have attempted to consolidate the schools (under names such as school rationalization, mainstreaming, amalgamation and integration) at the primary and upper-primary levels. Rajasthan has undertaken school mergers on the largest scale. About 17,000 schools were ordered to be merged, out of which 12,944 primary and 1,728 upper-primary ones had been merged as of 2016. However, these attempts have been made without adequate study of the need for consolidation and its impact on children in local communities.

School location decisions have to consider the optimal match of schooling demand with supply in the neighbourhood without compromising functional access. The following guiding principles could be followed for consolidation and restructuring: 1. Create before you destroy—construct a functional school infrastructure and appoint teachers in the consolidated school prior to shutting down schools; 2. No child left behind—school consolidation should not result in denial of access to any child; all possible transportation options should be explored, in case consolidation leads to difficulty in physical access; 3. Consult before consolidation—consolidation must be done with the consent of the community through consultations, and the alternative must include consensus on school location, transportation, etc.; 4. Vertical integration—school consolidation should ensure vertical integration across different levels.

Current norms for neighbourhood limits for schools are at different levels: primary schools within 1km, upper-primary schools within 3km and secondary schools within 5km. A common norm for all levels of schooling, with adequate flexibility to suit local conditions, could ensure vertical integration. Administratively, this requires the merger of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) at the Centre (which the ministry of human resource development is contemplating), and primary and secondary education bodies under the departments of education in states.

The Central and state governments should act as facilitators for consolidation and desist from taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Consolidation should be a local exercise—best decided by local authorities. The state governments should act as facilitators to the process of school rationalization by providing technical and financial support and capacity-building of local authorities.

[“Source-livemint”]

Charter Schools Are Reshaping America’s Education System for the Worse

Buttons opposing charter schools

A protester wears buttons opposing charter schools during a protest in Bellevue, Washington, on October 13, 2017. (AP Photo / Ted S. Warren)

Charter schools have been hailed as the antidote to public-school dysfunction by everyone from tech entrepreneurs to Wall Street philanthropists. But a critical autopsy by the advocacy group Network for Public Education (NPE) reveals just how disruptive the charter industry has become—for both students and their communities.

Charter schools are technically considered public schools but are run by private companies or organizations, and can receive private financing—as such, they are generally able to circumvent standard public-school regulations, including unions. This funding system enables maximum deregulation, operating like private businesses and free of the constraints of public oversight, while also ensuring maximum public funding.

According to Carol Burris of NPE, charter schools “want the funding and the privilege of public schools but they don’t want the rules that go along with them.” She cites charter initiatives’ having developed their own certification policies, as well as disciplinary codes and academic standards—a tendency toward “wanting the best of both worlds” among both non- and for-profit charter organizations.

In California, a nonprofit charter industrial model has flourished. The California Virtual Academy (CAVA) network runs hundreds of schools, delivering online-based programs through “cyber” outlets, often concentrated on students in low-income communities of color. CAVA’s political influence has expanded along with its brand.

California’s 2016 primary elections saw fierce battles funded through charter-school industry groups, particularly the Parent Teacher Alliance, which spent several million dollars on races for local superintendents and legislators. Reflecting the ambitions of charter proponents to aggressively expand the sector statewide, the charter boosters pushed candidates who favored lifting district limits on opening new charters. Such policies have sparked controversy, since charter growth is associated with budget erosion for public schools and resistance to staff unionization in the host district. Another measure opposed by the charter sector would “make charter board meetings public, allow the public to inspect charter school records, and prohibit charter school officials from having a financial interest in contracts that they enter into in their official capacity.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District has seen dramatic effects from the expansion of charter schools as it wrestles with budget crises. The teachers’ union recently estimated that charter funding imposes costs on the district of about $590 million annually (the figure is disputed by charter proponents), which to critics affirms that charters receive a growing share of taxpayer funds while leaving regular schools to struggle with chronic funding shortfalls.

The “flexibility” granted to charter schools also drives questionable academic trends. One online charter chain, managed by the Learn4Life network, serves 2,000 students in 15 schools through distance-learning-based programs. But its modular “storefront” teaching system has been accompanied by a churning enrollment with huge attrition rates. According to NPE, in 2015, four-year graduation rates ranged from zero percent in two of its schools, to 19 percent, with an overall average of less than 14 percent making it through all four years.

NPE’s investigation found a similar pattern at a BASIS charter school in Arizona, part of a nationwide charter network. Drawing on an earlier report by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, and reflecting the findings of an ACLU investigation into de facto segregation at Arizona charters, NPE argues that, despite heavy private financing, the school falls short in equity. The predominantly white and Asian-American student body of the BASIS Phoenix school contrasts with the high-poverty, mostly Latino surrounding district. With about 200 students total, BASIS Phoenix ultimately graduated just 24 students in 2016, after shedding 44 percent of the graduating grade’s students over the previous four years. The statistics, which matched similar trends across Arizona’s charter sector, suggest charters may actually be perpetuating the discrimination and exclusionary practices that they claim to help remedy.

In response, several school administrators claimed to be striving to address racial disparities. BASIS has forcefully denied that it is abetting inequality in Arizona’s schools, stating that it is “incredibly proud of the diverse nature” of its schools. BASIS.ed also issued a public rebuttal to NPE contending that its chain of schools, overall, maintained high retention rates, did not discriminate by background or ethnicity, and attracted a diverse range of families, as well as donations from them.

But the values of the BASIS network don’t necessarily reflect community diversity. The NPE report cites a third-party analysis of BASIS in a high-profile ranking of schools, America’s Most Challenging High Schools: BASIS Phoenix earned a top rating, according to publisher Jay Mathews, based on standards focused on performance scores. BASIS denies that it unfairly screens out children, citing overall high retention rates across the network for most K–12 classes. But the company, which admits it is “not for everyone” and that students do leave, also promotes a structure that prioritizes retaining high-scoring students, while lower performers realize eventually they can’t meet the standards.

This approach may boost the schools’ business competitiveness, but education advocates who focus on the social goal of providing equitable education for all see it differently. As NPE argues, “there must be a balance between reasonable challenge and inclusivity.” The demographic polarization linked to charter-school expansion, critics warn, exposes the harmful impact of exclusion on diversity: Charters claim to serve diverse populations, but may actually just be segregating the system further.

Examining the broader social impact of charters, NPE tracked financial manipulation and fraud at various schools. In Pennsylvania, lax financial regulations have allowed charters in some districts to absorb extra funding with little oversight. In the New Hope–Solebury School District, for example, the government contributes $19,000 per pupil attending a charter school, even if they are only learning through a screen, since “Those costs must even be paid to cyber charters that have no facilities costs at all.” Another financial question surrounds lopsided pay structures with much higher salaries for charter principals.

Another subsurface problem at many schools is harder to measure: Charters are known for high faculty-turnover rates. Although turnover is a problem in both charter and non-charter schools, NPE’s Burris notes that chaotic management and unregulated expansion, combined with intense academic pressures and high student attrition, can destabilize the whole institution. Traditionally, however, public schools have served as social pillars for the surrounding community. In stable schools, teachers and families grow up together. “Community schools are family schools in many, many ways,” Burris says. “And when they become businesses all of that is destroyed…those relationships are just not there, the way they are in the neighborhood community school.”

Charters may offer a different relationship to communities, but their brand of “free market” schooling carries costs. Who accounts for the lost social opportunities when education becomes just another market investment?

[“Source-thenation”]