By Aakash Chaudhary | TNN | November 7, 2020
The quality of education particularly in science and technology is the harbinger of development of a nation. Properly trained workforce manning our industrial complexes and R&D facilities is an indicator of growth and wealth creation, which is responsible for the prosperity of the people. But, the quality of education can only be achieved through high-quality infrastructure adorned by teachers and students who follow rigorous standards and modalities of education.
Engineering education in our times is facing enormous challenges. The fast-paced advancement in the field of technology has raised manifold demand of highly skilled workforce, which requires more than academic excellence. Fierce competition amongst the institutions to nurture industry-ready professionals should be a basic norm and not a differentiator.
The establishment of IITs, NITs, and IISc and many other private institutions have been a critical decision in improving India’s global engineering landscape. These institutions are creating some of the top engineering talent, alongside giving industry & nation smart executives and dedicated scientists post-independence.
There is no denying the fact that the growth of engineering education has contributed to the nation’s growth and will continue to do so but somehow the gap between the actual demand and supply is widening. Factors such as world-class faculty, autonomy, good quality of training, increase in R&D facilities can fill the gap.
What needs to be done
The internationalisation of education is inevitable for globalisation. It comes with the benefits of healthy competition and opens up global opportunities besides promoting goodwill and assimilation of cultures. The nation has already taken a step in this direction in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
The key to quality engineering education is to generate a passion for learning. There must be a dynamic mechanism to groom the teachers across the country. The growth and development of intellectual capital is integral to the improvement of engineering education.
Framing the new curricula
There must be a strong interface of academia with the captains of the industry. Frequently organised seminars and other brainstorming activities should foster a relationship between the challenges faced by the industry and the problem-solving mechanisms. The curriculum must include the basic skills of data structures, AI and machine learning for all the branches of engineering. A group design project should be there besides courses in entrepreneurship and oral communication.
As a measure of departure from rote learning, the semester end examinations can be modified. Emphasis should be on mid-semester exams, quizzes and assignments, environmental sciences must be covered in the syllabus and due coverage to physical and life sciences should be given. High weightage should be given to laboratory courses and fieldwork.
And lastly, our institutions must be supported with infrastructural and R&D facilities, the critical shortage of qualified and research-oriented facilities must be addressed. Faculty should get due recognition for R&D contributions and governance should be efficient.
No system of education is worth its salt without the ethically training practitioners. India already has the manpower to meet the demands of a skill-hungry world, provided it has adequate support from the education system for turning it into the one that we want to possess.