Dr Niranjan Hiranandani, Provost, HSNC University

The importance of academic excellence in the making of a highly successful first-generation business entrepreneur is perhaps best personified by Dr Niranjan Hiranandani. As a student, he had the distinction of standing second during his graduation from Mumbai University in his Bachelor of Commerce Degree Hons. This was followed by completing F C A from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. Adding a new dimension to his versatile personality, it truly befits the new role of academician for one who started his career as a teacher to the students learning Chartered Accountancy. Over the years, he has set up the Hiranandani Foundation School, successfully run the academic institutions of the HSNC Board – it is only in the fitness of things that his wish to go further and become an educationist comes true as Provost of the newly set up HSNC University in Mumbai. Excellence was not confined just to his studies as the ‘Developer extraordinaire’ as also ‘the one who redefined the skyline of Mumbai’, he has evolved into not only an industry leader but also an Industry Knowledge Guru.

 

The Indian Education system is archaic and in dire need for a complete overhaul. Students, today, are unable to translate the education received to secure a job, leading to a substantial gap witnessed between the degree acquired and the industry requirements. In fact, the India Skills Report 2020 found that only 42% employers say “most” job seekers satisfy their requirement in terms of quality of the talent. The sector now must move from the teacher-centric teaching pedagogy to a learner-centric one. It’s time to let go of the old chalk and talk methods, and bring India to the forefront of the global education landscape. The talent in the country has always been limitless, and the focus should be to nurture the same to create an economy that shifts gear to becoming unstoppable.

The Government of India announced the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, a comprehensive framework for elementary to higher education which includes vocational and skill training. The idea is to create a multidisciplinary and blended learning model that enables holistic learning and development of all students. It is meant to help bridge the gap mentioned earlier, between formal education and the needs of Industry 4.0. Redesigning the obsolete education syllabi and degree stamping in the context of globalization and technological disruption is vital, eventually leading to an overall revolution in the history of Indian Education System.

The NEP 2020 approaches teaching pedagogies in a way to empower students as individuals; individuals equip with critical thinking, independent learning, entrepreneurial abilities and knowledge of the new IT data disciplines and the active learning of the rich, complex and every changing environment of today. Learners must be able to self-assess in an effort to understand the advancement of their own skill-set. To stay relevant in the industry, NEP 2020 aims to provide an approach that encourages the commitment towards lifelong learning and conscious up-skilling. However, this must be undertaken while ensuring the sound know-how of the industry by emphasizing on the practical application of knowledge through internships and projects.

The Program also lays impetus on vocational skills in the curriculum which will help boost the sector and create better industry ready employment. The new teaching pedagogies and the overall syllabi must now be designed in association with local employers to make them industry relevant. With more internships and apprenticeships being offered, students are trained to be job ready. The cultivation of more diversified talent, skill execution and bright entrepreneurial minds, will lead to an overall surge in job creation, leading to nation building and an eventual higher GDP growth.

Today, the job market is more dynamic than ever with path-breaking innovations being introduced constantly. Likewise, the education curriculum of today needs to focus not only developing better job seekers but to also introduce actual job creators. In an effort to introduce this collaborative industry, the Government has already put in place a regulatory mechanism that allows dual degrees, joint degrees, twinning arrangements among others that encourage academic collaboration with foreign higher educational institutions. This allows for the introduction of new teaching and learning pedagogies, broader critical and collaborative thinking opportunities, and most importantly, fosters Indian students to collaborate, compete and triumph on a global scale.

The multidisciplinary approach undertaken by NEP has the potential to align the generalists and specialists together. It empowers students with the freedom to choose subjects from various disciplines, including sciences and humanities with sports and fine arts. This freedom to cultivate ones passion allows for an all-inclusive development of a learner’s personality in terms of Intellectual, Emotional and Social Intelligence Quotient. Similarly, the blended education approach helps students to simultaneously pursue masters and skill development courses. This cohesive integration of curricular and extra-curricular activities makes room for an advantage to the effectiveness of the HEIs in this new model of education.

NEP 2020 works towards creating a paradigm shift within the existing educational structure of India. The onset of this disruptive and contemporary process will definitely produce the genius minds which are much needed in current societal scenario. Change is inevitable, but a well-designed change facilitates development. Fortunately, the introduction and acceptance of diverse pedagogies helps develop ‘teaching’ as an art that binds culture, cognition, teaching and learning.

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