Education 4.0 - Learning from Peer and Diversity

Pratik Gandhi, Co-Founder, Edulab 2008 established Edulab is a global platform committed to provide experiential learning opportunities across 15 countries.

Is India Inc.ready to face the global competition in form of multiple learning options; new age campuses; cultural inclusions schemes; challenges of global employability skills; and above all the pressure to build a competent learning eco-system? The answer for this stands deep rooted into our social system- hidden within our cultural complexities, and surfacing out as our strength which is in building diversity. And to be more precise-yes! India can build a comprehensive system to support its 'Study in India' mandate.

Advancement in technology, closing up of distances, and deliberating on new ideas has generated a new world order. The Trump effect and Brexit are creating uncertainty around education and employability options in USA and UK respectively; thus slowing international student mobility in these regions. The new format is seeing China, Russia, Australia and other European countries work along to build educational capabilities to attract internationally mobile students. Russia has gone all out to open its doors to international students by upping its domestic institutions intake by 2,00,000 students; and creating inclusions to have over 1/3 seats reserved for international students. There is thus, need for India to buck up soon- taking into account that we already have an advantage of cost and language over countries like Russia, China and other countries in the West.

To add to this the past decade has seen coming of age of career options that were never heard off before- The need of the hour for us as a nation with a population of over 800 million under 30 years of age; is to heed to this changing demographics and creating inclusive learning system that weaves in global diversity, and focuses on catering to the educational needs of India and the world.

Diplomatic Hand Holding
If there is any best time to leverage from the nation’s diplomatic associations; and scale up our educational and training services-it is now! On completion of 3 years of Modi government the External Affairs Ministry published a booklet called “Fast Track Diplomacy” show-casing the achievement made in the foreign policy arena. Under Para Diplomacy for
example states and cities would be encouraged to forge special relation with countries or federal states of another country or even cities of their interest. A twinning agreement has been signed between Varanasi and Kyoto, Japan. Similar agreements are underway for Mumbai and Shanghai, Ahmedabad and Guangzhou and a 'sister states' agreement between Gujarat and Guangdong province of China will likely to be signed. This will help create a learning interface.

Institutes in India need to build their infrastructure to support experience building and such learning formats, which in turn will build the institute's socio-economic dynamics

Further,combining budgetary initiatives taken up in 2016 and 2017, the higher education system is getting its much needed investments for research and development, building infrastructure and remodeling for internationalization. The World Class University initiative seeks to make India's 20 higher educational institutions (10 public and 10 private) rank amongst the top 100 universities globally. On the other hand, HEFA aims to offer affordable loans for infrastructure and research & development requirement by educational institutes. Another major path breaking initiative has been granting further autonomy to the institutes’ registered under UGC-thus improving their caliber and decision making.

Making Learning Experiential
Institutes in India need to build their infrastructure to support experience building and such learning formats, which in turn will build the institute’s socio-economic dynamics. Outbound students, bring with them a new world order- experiences, culture and investment. This adds up and improves the social fabric for the host country. True learning’s are attained from experiences that get embedded into our psychotic systems. Hence a system of education that lays focus on internships, projects and building group dynamics brings out a more confident bunch of students. Staying on-campus and interacting with peer group also adds to this learning format which is built on experiences. As we see in Finland and other countries "Learning is more experiential" and children are allowed to discuss and learn from each other rather than screen and smart classrooms right from their schooling days. It is this collaborative atmosphere that helps build unique ability to comprehend and analyze- which stands as the key employability requirements beyond a degree.

Building Lifelong Learning Systems
The need of the hour for Indian educational institutes is curating a practical learning environment .This can be achieved by stepping beyond STEM(Science, technology, Engineering and Mathematics),and looking into our indigenous specializations. Arts, History, traditional Indian dance forms, classic music, and alternative medicine inform of Ayurveda, holistic courses on Yoga, and courses on meditative learning; these need to be formalized and advocated in a more professional format. Not binding them around time, age or geography. This will attract more international students who want to build their skill set based on these unique subjects, and focus on specialized skills that are directly marketable or employable.

Further reforms rolling out in 2017 include emphasis on innovation fund for secondary education. Reforms underway in UGC to identify institutes based on ranking and give them more autonomy. Proposal to leverage information technology with launch of Swayam platform for virtual learning; and building 100 Indian international skill centres to be established with courses in foreign languages, are all paving way forward for internationalization and making India ready for the world.