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Experiental learning is the way to make rural managers

KIIT School of Rural Management KSRM Bhubaneswar co-founded by Dr Verghese Kurien imparts rural management education and training in Odisha Today it is known as a premier institute in rural management in India DR LK VASWANI tells MOHD MUSTAQUIM about the current education scenario in rural India

Dr. LK Vaswani
Director - KSRM
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Education is the core of development and India has achieved considerable progress in this sector. What is the current state of overall education system in the country?
Yes Country has made substantial progress in education in all fields but this rapid expansion has been at the cost of quality. Now we need to consolidate our education in terms of quality.

In India, it has been found that in many occasions the teachers are not fully exposed to the industrial requirement, in that case how the level of education can be improved?
I agree that   the quality is primarily driven by quality of teachers and culture of research enquiry. Professionals entering into should have exposure to practice in their respective fields while other can be be inducted into the system through capacity building and exposure in practice.

How do you think, private universities can play a role in spreading higher education among rural students?
The private universities can create opportunities for promising/meritorious rural students through scholarships or customised fee structure. Reservations have proved counterproductive. The Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) model of free education from KG to PG promoted by KIIT University is now all over the country in mainstreaming tribals into school, vocational and higher education. 

It is said that highly educated students generally feel cut off from their rural grass roots. Do you agree with this? If yes, how do you think we can keep them connected with Rural Bharat? 
This is partly true. To many of these students from rural background, higher education builds aspirations for different quality of life which is quite natural when they gain confidence that they can survive in the competitive world. While others want to contribute to development of their communities in various ways.

Now, with rural marketing as discipline in almost all the B-Schools of the country, do you think the new generation marketing professionals are ready to work in rural terrains?
It depends how you define it. If you define it as selling of goods to rural consumers it does not require too much of a skill but a good understanding of rural consumer/marketing channels etc. However, marketing planning for rural markets require strategic insights and understanding for which business schools do not have a appropriate curriculum, 

To sync industrial need and theoretical teaching, what measures KSRM has been taking?
Our strength in this regard is experiential learning, in words guided self -learning. Our students undertake three intern-ships of three months each, each time with a different objective to build theirproblem solving abilities including that in rural marketing. The experiential learning is supported by a well-designed course in rural marketing and other rural domains. 

What is the USP of KSRM?
Our USP is experiential learning or guided self-learning. That is why we call our school as school for change managers. This has become essential in today’s scenario. We send students to the villages so that they can understand the rural dimensions.

 

(Dr. LK Vaswani is the founder Director at KIIT School of Rural Management (KSRM), Bhubaneswar from 2006. Prior to this, he was the Acting Director at Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), during 1991 – 2006.)

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