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Many institutions have rural immersion in their programmes

Universities are using the ICT to reach to rural students through distance education. Such innovative models are needed to be developed, opines PROF PIYUSH KUMAR SINHA, Chairperson - Centre for Retail Management, IIM-Ahmedabad in a conversation with MOHD MUSTAQUIM

Prof. Piyush Kumar Sinha
IIM - Ahmedabad
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Education is the core of development and India has achieved considerable progress in this sector. What level has it reached?
The system is evolving with time. In the last two decades the focus has been shifting towards education targetted at direct employment, which also includes vocational training. The private education systems had a mixed result towards this. this has enhanced the importance of good education and good schools. The focus on school education must be brought back with vigour and urgency.

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?
Teacher development is core to a good educational system and better educated people. There is a dire need to focus on this. Institutions would have to provide for a dedicated development budget and also ensure that there is a continuous and rich exchange of ideas, people and knowledge among different sectors than the school would interact. The teachers and students must be exposed to good practices from social, government and other multi-cultural sectors. However, this also requires that the profession of education must be seen as an equally good and respected employment opportunity as other sectors.

Please share your views on the role private universities can play.
I do not believe that universities differentiate between an urban and a rural student. It is a question of whether the education is provided in an urban area or the university extends into hinterlands. The economics of education in rural area is different due to geographical spread of students and the availability of good teachers in enough number. Nevertheless, universities are using the ICT to reach to rural students through distance educations. Such and other innovative business models would need to be developed to make this a reality. For instance, when one can commute for 3 hours in large cities, why can’t one do it to reach a rural area to teach.

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?
Let’s first ask even those from the rural area as to why even they tend to cut themselves off from their grassroot. How many people who migrate for education come back to their home state? Having said this, there are many institutions who have rural immersion as part of their programme.

What should be done to reverse the process of braindrain in rural India?
Fashion repeats. So does history. Hope rural marketing courses are also not subjected to these trends and fads. Rural marketing professionals have tough lives. Unless, one has a preference, there are enough trade-offs available for them.

To sync industrial need and theoretical teaching, what measures IIM-A has been taking?
Enhanced interaction through research, case writing, training and advisory; Exchange of thought in workshops, lecture series and conferences; Participation in decision making as members of industry and government bodies and committees as well as boards of companies. These things help syncing industrial need with education.


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