New World- New Education

Regional Session 1 of the Students’ parliament witnessed a thought provoking discussion on the topic: New World-New Education. Dr. Andrew Turner, Dr. Achuthshankar S Nair, Dr. Saji Gopinath and Dr. Kiran. G.R delivered magnificent oration addressing the youth.

Dr. Andrew Turner, Associate Pro-vice Chancellor, Coventry University, U.K addressed the challenges in a rapidly changing world. He forecast the changing world population of 2050 where India will be the most populous country. He said that the key shaping influences in the world of Industry 4.0 are cyber physical systems, internet of things and networks. “Discussions about the future of work revolve around fears of technology making workers obsolete. It imagines a world where people are relegated to unemployment or meaningless work by advances like driverless cars and artificial intelligence” Turner said. He gave the records of predictions for the future jobs in India as well as the top skills in 2030. The top skills that he listed out were judgment and decision making, fluency of ideas, active learning, learning strategies, originality, systems evaluation, deductive reasoning, complex problem solving, systems analysis and monitoring.

Turner strongly urges for new models of university degrees. He gave several examples of various universities that provide open online learning programe. In short, he proposes youth to access the massive open online programmes being offered by universities like Nexford and Coventry. Speaking about education for a new world, Turner said “New accessible affordable models of education needed to deliver demand and access to Higher Education.  Education technology allows, and becomes the vehicle for, universal access to higher education of a different order of magnitude. Students expect to graduate into gainful employment. Institutions have a responsibility to deliver deeper, active learning experiences and skills-based training that integrate technology in meaningful ways.”

In the ending note he said that for the future of learning, the curriculum will need to develop specific skills to develop more innovative, entrepreneurial and creative mind-sets. His words of wisdom lies when he spoke the concluding line “uniquely human skills will become more important: originality, fluency of ideas and active listening.”

Dr. Achuthshankar. S. Nair, HOD, Computational Biology and Bio-informatics, University of Kerala address the session by touching upon aspects specific to India. He said that the nature of education has been influenced by the aspiration of the people. He criticizes the archaic concepts held by parents and questions the conventional image of a teacher to be a sage on the stage. Achuthshankar opined that the teachers have to be a guide by the side. Describing the present educational system, he gives an analogy of “puttukutti”. He received huge round of applause for the sarcastic explanation of current educational system as the puttukutti model of education where the students are hollow tubes to be filled by education by the teachers. He said that there is a shine in every youth and the education is an ecosystem to bring that shine out. He also states that the caste in India can only be transferred and not to be destroyed. He raises his opinion that there should not be any faculties in university. The two immediate soft skills that India need according to him are to Think Smarter and Think deeper. He brings to the notice that we should practice the principles in Upanishads. He also said that education has to be transacted through critical thinking and the questioning system of students has to be improved.

Achuthshankar does not forget to praise humanities and reminds the youth that if humanities do not wake up, we are no longer humans. He finds that India does not have an ecosystem for innovation in universities. He calls for all campuses to ensure student diversity. He suggested that in order to bring out academic fusion a law has to be enforced to accommodate at least 10% students from outside the state and 1 % students from outside the country to our universities. He shares his dream of university in the concluding words. He predicted that India can gear up to perform in coming years if we welcome diversity in campuses. He also warns the youth never to fall for militant politics practiced in campuses.

Dr. Saji Gopinath, CEO, Kerala Startup Mission talked about the technological factors that make the world move. He talked about the possible outcomes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He states that today the cycle of technological change is shrinking. He points that most educational system are not dynamic enough to address these changes. He said that it is partially true that many fear the technological advantages that make many jobless. When looking at the positive part, the nuances of the system are that it is highly exponential, highly democratized, moving from centralized to decentralized system.

Saji Gopinath opined that the autonomy has to be given to the learner and not to the institution. “The world moved from world of shortage to abundance. Abundance and collaboration sharing help us to make education meaningful”, he said. He argues that the people with complementary skills have to come together in the universities. He brings a critical observation that technology may have disrupted most area but still not disrupted the education system. He encouraged student entrepreneurship. He said that, “When economy grows fast, you need innovative based economics to solve the problems. In a fast level of technological change, we too have to change faster. If internal changes are slower than the external changes, we are dying.” He expresses his joy that the liberation of students from formal education is happening. Dr. Saji Gopinath concludes his words by emanating the message “one who is adaptable to changes will succeed.”

Dr. Kiran G. R, Dean, Middle East College, Sultanate of Oman expressed his opinion on the shift in curriculum. He addresses the topic with the key trends happening across the world like environmental challenges, civic engagement and freedom, international mobility and remittances, increasing inequality, social media and lies, cyber security, aging societies and industry 4.0. He urged for broader educational goals both individual and collective. He motivates youth to be responsible and engaged global citizens. He presented a list of stable, new and reductant jobs. He states that automation and Artificial Intelligence will accelerate skill shifts.

He expresses his concern that the religion of academics does not allow any change. He opines that the whole idea of education is to build responsible citizens and not on building good engineers, doctors etc. He said to the youth that they really need to look at their personal ability. In the concluding speech, he also provided certain skills that has to be inculcated in the curriculum like domain and inter-disciplinary knowledge, social and emotional skill, cognitive and metacognitive skills, civic and social participation skills, practical and physical skills, attitudes and values.

At the end of the session, two students Omar Kadavilparambil Ismail from Kerala and Rishi Acharya from Rajasthan presented their opinions.  A resolution has been unanimously passed to increase the budget allocation for education and to devise ways and means to improve standards in our institutions of higher education.