About Dual Degree Dilemma

Dr. Ravindra Soni is the Director, All India Council for Technical Educational, He also is incharge of AICTE Training and Learning ( ATAL ) Academy.

Question:How would you rate the response of our Universities once the pandemic struck and campuses had to be closed?

As there was no immediate solution to stop the outbreak of Covid-19, complete lockdown was imposed throughout the country in March, 2020. Consequently, Universities Campuses were closed both for faculty and students during pandemic. During that time, neither faculty nor students were allowed to enter the campuses. Students missed the opportunities for learning and private universities faced the financial crunch, leaving the economic and social stress. Therefore, both faculty and students were badly affected by closures of universities. Soon after the lockdown most of the institutions started online activities and I saw in some it was scaled and activities were more than the face to face mode. Now, following the guidelines issued by Govt. of India, now faculty have been allowed to attend some urgent work in their respective campuses by following the guidelines issued by Govt. of India with proper SOP. I feel online education compensated the learning.

Question:I absolutely agree. Pandemic has not only changed the face of education but all sectors have also been badly affected leaving the adverse impact on economy.

As far as role of technology is concerned, it is improving the quality of education in India digital education mode will prove to be a qualitative, cost effective and useful way of teaching-learning process. I mean, probably in long run, teaching-learning through distance education mode through virtual classroom will be useful. Many educational institutes are considering this as an ideal time to experiment and deploy new technology to make education delivery possible and meaningful. In future blended learning is going to prevail.

Question:A Survey states that only 10% of Indian teachers had ever used any format of online teaching pre-covid – most of teachers lack digital skills. How can this be addressed.

This is partially true. In fact, major issue is psychological barrier which is vanished now because of COVID. Now emphasis is being given to improve their ICT skills and competency. I feel now most of the faculties are comfortable using the online mode of teaching.

Question:Remote Learning Reachability Reported by UNICEF states that 23% Indian households have access to internet for e-education. In such a scenario, how can the government help education reach the lowest element of the pyramid?

There are many ways to reach out the students who don’t have access to Internet. Like Educational TV Channel, community radio, distance learning. This is the purposeful efforts by Govt. of India and there are many innovative ideas in remote areas by teachers and community. Recently CBSE has issued a circular for schools to address the challenges of online education.

Question:As per a few reports that I have read, technology is going to become centre-stage for education – not just an enabler. This will require a lot of innovation, research and technology development. What role do you think, the private sector is going to play in this journey?

Technology is going to play a major role. There is a drift from face to face to online courses. Lot of MOOCs courses and other courses have already been offered. In near future, Institutions will offer these courses with hands on experience and lab practices with virtual labs and simulation. Courses will be conducted through virtual classrooms, labs, simulation and AR/VR. In time to come, this will be useful, cost effective and flexible too. There is a possibility that after 5G launch, 3-D videos calling facilities will be easily available and classroom will be virtual.

Question:You must have heard that a large number of engineering graduates are unemployable, they have degrees but they lack skills. According to you, where does the issue lie?

This is again partially true that many of the graduates are lacking skills in spite of acquiring engineering degrees. In fact, they have different skills and now is being addressed by many of the agencies.

Lots of emphasis is given on skill development, professional development. Now the scenario is being changed. Recently innovation ranking was announced and India stood 48 rank and we will further improve innovative ranking in times to come. The government is taking very wonderful step and now NEP has been announced which will change and improve the quality of education in the country. This is the major qualitative reform of this century in the field of education. The vision of our beloved Prime Minister and with direction and support of Ministry of Education the quality is going to be enhanced tremendously. Our graduates are leading top multinational company of the world. Many examples are there. Our graduates are very capable and dedicated.

What are new areas in which Industry can collaborate with academia to improve learning outcome and employability?

There are many areas in which collaboration is required specially in some thrust areas and emerging areas in which industry and academia needs to collaborate and these are:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Blockchain
  • Robotics
  • Quantum Computing
  • Data Sciences
  • Cyber Security
  • 3D Printing & Design
  • Augmented Reality (AR)/ Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Cloud computing
  • Electric vehicles
  • Alternate energy sources
  • Energy storage
  • Health care

AICTE has also identified some emerging areas and now technical courses are being approved in these emerging areas

Question:What are new recent initiatives taken by AICTE to improve the quality of technical education in India?

After joining of Hon’ble Chairman Prof Anil D Sahashrabudhe and Hon’ble VCM Prof M P Poonia the face of AICTE and technical education is completely changed. Actually the technical education has been revamped completely. All credit goes to Prof Sahashrabudhe, Prof Poonia and Prof Rajive Kumar for bringing this drastic change.

There are many initiatives taken by AICTE and quality initiatives are like

  • AICTE Training And Learning (ATAL) Academy
  • National Education Alliance for Technology (NEAT)
  • Revision of Curriculum
  • Mandatory Induction Program
  • Examination Reforms
  • Internship Policy
  • Training for Technical Teachers
  • Perspective Plan
  • Innovation / Startups
“As far as the role of technology is concerned, it is improving the quality of education in India. digital education mode will prove to be a qualitative, cost effective and useful way of teaching-learning process. I mean, in the long run, teaching-learning through distance education mode through virtual classroom will be useful”, said Ravindra Soni, Director, AICTE while speaking with Rana Jyoti, Associate Editor, India Education Forum.