The reasons for the poor quality in India’s primary and high-school education

Makarand Sahasrabudhe points out the various problems that affect the Indian Education System in answer to a question on Quora. He points out that there are problems with access to schools, for example:

Parents are not certain about the safety of the girl child travelling to school even if it is only 1/2 km away from home.
Apparently simple issues like the need to cross a highway / stream on the way to school keeps kids away.

and with attendance, for example:

[Teachers] are feared by the students and why would they not. In my wanderings around India over 15 years I have seldom seen a classroom where the teacher did not have a cane on the table. There were occasions when he did not have chalk but he always had a cane. I am speaking from the experience of having been in 100s of classrooms across 10 States in India.

And attainment. Here he points out:

The Indian education system was designed by the British rulers to create clerks to help the few thousand British administrators run a country of 40 million people. It was not designed to promote thought and encourage a culture of curiosity

Read the full article. It is interesting, and ends with hope…maybe…

The Crisis in Higher Education

Nicolas Carr has an interesting article on massively online open courses (or MOOCs), which are attracting hundreds of thousands of students, millions of dollars in funding, and accolades from college administrators. He wonders whether this is a fad or the very overhaul higher education needs?

These “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, are earning praise for bringing outstanding college teaching to multitudes of students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to it, including those in remote places and those in the middle of their careers. The online classes are also being promoted as a way to bolster the quality and productivity of teaching in general-for students on campus as well as off. Former U.S. secretary of education William Bennett has written that he senses “an Athens-like renaissance” in the making. Stanford president John Hennessy told the New Yorker he sees “a tsunami coming.”

“What You (Really) Need to Know” -Lawrence Summers

InnoVidya member Shrikant Patil, points us to this New York Times Article by Lawrence Summers, former president of Harvard University, who wonders what would happen if the educational system is drastically altered to reflect the structure of society in the 21st century. Here is the set up:

And the world is changing very rapidly. Think social networking, gay marriage, stem cells or the rise of China. Most companies look nothing like they did 50 years ago. Think General Motors, AT&T or Goldman Sachs.

Yet undergraduate education changes remarkably little over time. My predecessor as Harvard president, Derek Bok, famously compared the difficulty of reforming a curriculum with the difficulty of moving a cemetery.

Given this, it won’t be easy to change the education system (and it is not clear whether you want the educational system to change very rapidly in keeping with the times), but if we were to change, then here are the possibilities that he finds interesting:

  1. Education will be more about how to process and use information and less about imparting it.
  2. An inevitable consequence of the knowledge explosion is that tasks will be carried out with far more collaboration.
  3. Just as text books are written by a few professors, and used by everybody else in the world, even lectures and lecture materials will be created/recorded by a few top professors and others will simply re-use this material. Professors will have more time for direct discussion with students.
  4. We will see “Active learning classrooms” – which cluster students at tables, with furniture that can be rearranged and integrated technology
  5. Globalization of the curriculum
  6. Courses of study will place much more emphasis on the analysis of data.

Read the full article.

Exploriments: Pune’s Persistent Partners with IL&FS for Educational Mobile Apps

Pune-based outsourced software product development services company Persistent Systems on Tuesday announced that they have partnered with IL&FS Education and Technology Services Ltd. to develop a series of mobile based learning applications on IL&FS Education’s, Exploriments learning platform.

Continue reading Exploriments: Pune’s Persistent Partners with IL&FS for Educational Mobile Apps

Very high-powered India/US education conference, Dec 5-7, Pune

From 5 to 8 December, a very high powered conference on education, featuring some of the top names in education from India and US is being held in Pune. And by top names, I really mean the top: everyone’s listed in speakers and panelists, from ministers (Sharad Pawar, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, and others), Governors, bureaucrats (from planning commission, AICTE, UGC), heads of various universities and colleges too numerous to mention (including Kadam, DY Patil, Navale, Karad, Mujumdar – all the big names in Maharashtra’s higher education), and a whole lot of others.

From the US there are members of congress and senators, top officials from Princeton, UC Berkeley, and a bunch of other universities. Just look at the detailed agenda for a full list. This is the first time this conference is being organized, so there is no track record, and I don’t know whether all the listed speakers will indeed show up, or there will be bunches of last minute cancellations, but even if a fraction of them show up, it will still be one of the most impressive collection of movers and shakers in the higher education space. Just look at the delegation coming from the US

The conference is organized by three organizations: Alliance for US India Business (AUSIB), State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF), and Dr. D Y Patil University.

For more details, see the AUSIB website.

You can register for the conference here. It costs Rs. 5000 per person.

InnoVidya meeting: Changing Higher Education – 26 Nov

The gap between what our engineering colleges produce and what our industry would like to consume is widening, and will become an increasingly severe problem for the health of the software industry in India. Everybody realizes there is a problem, and there are lots of people working on this issue from various angles. Entrepreneurs are rushing in to fill the gaps, educators, especially those in independent institutes are trying interesting new experiments, and social media has the potential to change everything. InnoVidya is a platform that aims to bring together the people at the forefront of this revolution.

On November 26, we invite you to the first InnoVidya event – where the speakers will include Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director of CoEP, Mohit Gundecha, CEO of hot and recently funded startup, YourNextLeap, and Arun Prabhudesai, CTO of My Open Campus, a startup that aims to change how students interact with everybody. But the excellent line-up of speakers is not the main reason to attend this meeting – come for the audience: trustees of colleges, directors and HODs of educational institutes, heads of software companies who are desperately searching for solutions, and other Pune entrepreneurs who are looking to get rich as the Indian education system is forced to transform itself by inexorable global changes.

This is a free and open event, on Saturday, November 26th, from 10:30am to 12:30pm, at Venture Center, NCL Innovation Park, Pashan Road. Please register here.

Agenda for this Meet

  • 5-minute InnoVidya Introduction by Raja Bellare
  • 30-minute talk by Dr. Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director CoEP + 15 min Q&A
  • 20-minute pitch by Mohit Gundecha, Co-Founder & CEO YourNextLeap + 10 min Q&A
  • 20-minute pitch by Arun Prabhudesai, CTO MyOpenCampus + 10 min Q&A
  • followed by free time for hallway conversations.

Higher Education in India – Changing Scenarios – Anil Sahasrabudhe, Director, COEP

Anil is the Director of College of Engineering Pune (COEP). Anil joined COEP as the director in 2006. He holds a vision to take COEP to the next level with a view to enriching the life of every student who enters COEP.

Anil will talk about the changing scenarios in higher education in India.

Anil did his BE Karnataka University (Gold Medalist) and has a PhD from IISc Bangalore. In the past he has been a researcher at IISc, faculty at NERIST, Itanagar, and Professor at IIT Guwahati.

YourNextLeap – Smart Career Counseling and College Decisions

YourNextLeap is a recommendation engine which acts as a virtual career counselor to help students make smarter career and college decisions. It involves a suite of applications, which use psychometric evaluations and math models on past admission patterns, to give out personalized suggestions. Team YourNextLeap is excited about its mission to enhance the way millions of students and young professionals treat their careers. The team comprises of students from top US and Indian universities like BITS, NID, COEP, PICT, USC and Stanford University. More at http://yournextleap.com

About the Speaker – Mohit Gundecha

Mohit is the CEO & Co-founder of YourNextLeap. He was an early team member and head of India Operations for mig33, a mobile community with more than 50 million users. Prior to mig33, Mohit studied at Stanford University, where he co-founded Mobile Momentum with Prof. Tom Kosnik. Mohit has also co-authored a widely referenced mobile industry report, ‘Future of Mobile VAS in India’.

My Open Campus – Online Community for Faculty, Students, Employers and others

My Open Campus brings seamless collaboration to colleges, communities and closed user groups . MOC aims to bring all stakeholders (for e.g: students, faculties & administrators in a college) on single easy to use unified platform, where they can communicate and carry out all regular activities online.

MOC offers secure messaging, online assessments & exams, Information repository, student & Alumni groups, event management, Student database management, discussion forums, placements along with host of other features..

The vision of My Open Campus is to create employable intelligent students. There cannot be knowledge enhancement in an isolated and restrictive environment. Hence MOC brings together all stakeholders on a single platform to make learning a fun & social activity.

About the Speaker – Arun Prabhudesai

Arun is the CTO of Enhanced Education, the company behind MyOpenCampus. Having worked for over 15 years in I.T Industry across the globe, Arun returned back to India to pursue his dream of starting on his own. He has been quite active in Startup and Entrepreneur community is always in forefront in advising upcoming Entrepreneurs.

About InnoVidya

InnoVidya is a group of educators and industry professionals who want to reach out to students, teachers, trainers and working professionals and catalyze significant improvements in their learning ecosystems. In addition to the InnoVidya website and the InnoVidya mailing list, we also hold public lectures on the 4th Saturday of every month. Lectures usually involve talks by senior educators, industry visionaries, or social and/or for-profit entrepreneurs working in the space of higher education.

We are currently based in Pune, but we expect that this initiative will expand all over India.

More at: http://innovidya.org

And please join the mailing list: http://groups.google.com/group/innovidya

Venue Sponsor – Venture Center

Entrepreneurship Development Center (Venture Center) – a CSIR initiative – is a not-for-profit company hosted by the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune. Venture Center strives to nucleate and nurture technology and knowledge-based enterprises by leveraging the scientific and engineering competencies of the institutions in the Pune region in India. The Venture Center is a technology business incubator specializing in technology enterprises offering products and services exploiting scientific expertise in the areas of materials, chemicals and biological sciences & engineering.

Fees and Registration

This event is free and open for anybody to attend. Please register here. And join the InnoVidya mailing list (optional).