Dr Shashikala Wanjari is the Vice Chancellor of SNDT Women's University. Wanjari served as Professor and Head, Department of Education, Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University (RTMNU). She succeeds Professor Vasudha Kamat whose term ended on May 13. Mumbai University Vice Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh was officiating as the vice chancellor after the completion of Kamat's tenure. Wanjari secured her MSc degree in Biochemistry and further took her M A in English and M.Ed from RTMNU. She later obtained PhD in Education.
Question:As a young country, India is eager to grab all opportunity of the different parameters of growth, and we are sure the field of higher education has a key role to play. At current, what are the innovative steps taken by SNDT Women's University to provide better opportunity and experience to its student, fueling the idea of their professional growth
We are well acquainted with the demographics of India, the country of the youngsters. So definitely only getting a degree is not enough, but we have to focus on enrollment, MHRD has set the role of 30% gross enrollment rates by the end of year 2020. It is our first objective. Now coming back to your question- Only degree won’t help, we will have to think beyond that. See, getting a degree is just getting knowledge of few things, but after getting degree, do they get employment? The answer is No- not much satisfactory! Those who are in higher education, they will have to think what can be imparted to our students. I am the VC of women’s University. I should know what are the avenues for my girls in the future.
You will be surprised to know that at SNDT we have been working on the issue of gender equality since 1915, it has been included in Sustainable Development Goals quite recently in 2015. Our founder, faculty member and management team, they are doing their way into the same. Of course, there is a hierarchy, as we are governed by the state government keeping the employability in mind, we are moving ahead. We have nursery, polytechnic college and different wings of higher education- graduation, post graduation and PHD programmes. This is the first women university in entire South East Asia, so I should be very serious. This is such a relevant question, you know, what I feel is, in addition to a degree, they should be well acquainted with different kinds of skills. Just a few days back, I read a book- profit with Social Media, I went through the book, and then I met a lady who is giving service for social media marketing. I was surprised to see what achievement she had accomplished. With the help of social media , she is able to earn good. So when I come across all these things that are being undertaken by different entrepreneurs, then I realized that in addition to degree, they should get knowledge of entrepreneurship. In addition to formal education, they should informal education- they should get training of starting a business, how will they make money, how will they convert ideas into products- we have to teach them these skills. If I tell you, SNDT has 90% of the skill based courses like diploma, certificate courses etc. Majority of courses are skill based. Also, this is the first University to have internship programme. So as the result, we send out our students to different industries for hands-on training so that they can become capable and understand the market.
Question:Industry has suggestions that Universities need to work their part with the students to make them employable, ( As India Skills Report suggests only 47 percent of our recent graduates are employable), and they are not at par with the requirement of the industry. Where do you think our curriculum is lacking in providing the students with those necessary skills, important for making them better employable.
As a part of elementary education, we learn 1+ 1= 2, but when we grow up- we end up learning 1 + 1 could be 11 as well, and I being from teaching background, I understand that. So I don’t want to give any remark on (Why study 8 papers of mathematics, if there is no use of them in the real job world). I will give you an example- If you go through any book related to pedagogy of teaching, you will find that you have to maintain the hierarchy in learning. Suppose I am asked to define density, I will certainly define it as mass per volume is density but when I go to next standard, I will study Archimedes, then I will realize the base of Archimedes is density but the principle is totally different but the base is density. That is why, the level of learning matters a lot. We have to keep in mind that curriculum is very important because it is a tool through which we can mold our learners, and in this case, student is the centre of circle, whoever is in education will have to make everything from learners’ point of view.. e will have to involve learners in the process of learning, then only he will be able to learn, comprehend and analyse and then only he will be able to synthesize the thing and evaluate whether these things are fruitful or not. Also, there is a corelation between whatever we study. So I would say that it is necessary to learn all subject until some level, and then there is a diversification. Recently we received a mandate PPP (Public Private Partnership) and there you will find that many of the industries have been involved in making the curriculum. We also have got the new act of University from Maharashtra Act of University 2016- so if you go through the act, you will find many noble things, in that it is also stated that we have to involve many industry people to enrich our curriculum.
Question:Several students rely on supplementary programmes that they take along side the University courses to improve their Employability and chances of landing into a job, resulting into extra expense and additional time .
Simply by doing graduation, the purpose of life will not be served, this is my honest opinion. At the same time, if the student is doing additional skilling courses like- photography, shorthand, English speaking, the chance of her getting hired will be higher. These are the lateral opportunities that the students must go for to make herself strong in terms of skills and knowledge. Just with BSC degree, I don’t think she will get any job, but if she is good in English, comes with technological knowledge, she will get a job. The students will have to supplement themselves by learning additional skills. We have add on courses. We understand that the basic principle of curriculum is need, the curricula are getting revised because this is the mandate of MHRD, everywhere we are talking to bring such revision in the curriculum, it is happening. There are many possibilities, who has stopped students from learning, it depends on the temperament of the students. Many of the girls are doing graduation but also learning music- a certificate course or something like that. We encourage girls to do certificate course in Yoga. In our Sanskrit department. We have ladies in their 50s coming to learn, I am sure if not anything they can manage to earn their bread by reciting mantras in Sanskrit.
Question:Can you tell us about the Technological usage in the University when it comes to the teaching and learning model? Do you provide technical training to the teachers to keep them abreast of time, and help them teach the students using the latest technological advancement?
In the 10 th plan of UGC, there was one of the goals which was related to ITC enabled teaching, you will find in the domain of higher education that they require ITC enabled teaching model. So anyhow teachers have to be well versed with technology. Let me state at example- out of 100, around 99% of them are using smart phones and the girls are very smart that way. They know how to google and if they seek any answer they can google it in a jiffy, at that point teacher has to make themselves well versed with ITC. Even centralized funding agencies like RUSA, they are supporting us to make ITC enabled teaching by providing grants for the infrastructure and software and all these gadgets.
"Simply by doing graduation, the purpose of life will not be served, this is my honest opinion. At the same time, if the student is doing additional skilling courses like- photography, shorthand, English speaking, the chance of her getting hired will be higher. These are the lateral opportunities that the students must go for to make themselves strong in terms of skills and knowledge. Just with BSC degree, I don’t think they will get any job, but if they are good in English, comes with technological knowledge, she will get a job", said Prof. Shahikala Wanjari, VC, SNDT Women's University while speaking to Rana Jyoti, Associate Editor, India Education Forum.