"I have forgotten and unlearned practically every single thing I learnt during my under-graduation and post-graduation. The world I grew up in is completely different from today and if I had stuck to that, I’d have been a dinosaur,” says Ajit Rangnekar, former Dean of the Indian School of Business, stressing on the need for re-education.
In today’s world, there is a disconnect between the education imparted in schools and colleges and real-life, because of which, there is a need for education to be a continuous process. This is what Ajit -- current director general of Research and Innovation Circle (RICH) of Hyderabad -- said while speaking at a panel discussion during DOT, an education and technology conclave organised by School of Accelerated Learning at T-Hub in Hyderabad.
Agreeing with Ajit, Sachin Kapoor, head of Strategic Partnerships, India and South East Asia, LinkedIn says that continuous learning is what is required to solve today’s problem. “Today, you need to be in a continuous learning mode. Even when you are in a corporate environment, everything is a learning, every day,” he adds.
And for this to happen, what should education institutes do? How should they evolve for students who will be joining the workforce in the next 30 years?
While technology would seem like the obvious answer here, blended learning – a combination of technology and the traditional type of learning with classroom discussions – is what is required, says Ajit.
And in order for educational institutes to evolve, there are certain basic challenges that need to be overcome. A large amount of people are not from urban centres and here, there are major challenges such as access to a good teacher or good books and all these problems can be solved through technology.
However, Ajit believes that just technology doesn’t suffice. There are three important aspects that are required to make this happen:
Make technology highly affordable
There was a time when we had tablets to try and integrate technology into learning. “But the real question is how are we going to make them so effective and accessible that even the poorest of the poor can afford it?” Ajit asks.
And this, Ajit says, will need not just government support, but also a lot of philanthropic capital. “Philanthropic capital is absolutely needed. Look at what Bill and Melinda Gates foundation does. We need more and more of that to come in to make tools available,” he adds.
The entire education system in India is now a completely western-based system unlike our traditional education, which has been through storytelling.
“We have completely forgotten storytelling along with life skills. When one comes from a good family, parents tell them the importance of health, cleanliness, concept of saving, etc but when they come from poor broken homes, how will they get such lessons. There is an immense opportunity there and so content is going to be extremely important,” Ajit says.
In today’s world, parents seem to rather send their kids to a fourth-grade engineering college than a top grade liberal arts college. That, Ajit says, is the problem. “Can we not educate our children in what they want to do rather than push them for competitive exams and courses,” he adds.
Therefore, while education will definitely be disrupted with the onslaught of technology, the problem that needs to be solved is not of technology, but of mindsets.
Educational institutes have a contract with the student of providing learning for the period of time they are there. But this, Ajit says, needs to be revised to make learning a process that continues for a lifetime.