In India, the number of students pursuing higher education is expected to rise up to 100 million over the next 10 years to come. This calls in for the recruitment of at least 10 million skilled teachers in Indian colleges and universities. This interesting observation was made by Dr Leena Chandran Wadia, a senior fellow at Observer Research Foundation (ORF), while presenting their latest report at a conclave on science, held on November 20 at MCCIA, titled ‘Manifesto for India’s future’. 

The conclave was organised by Pune International Centre (PIC) in association with Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune and ORF, Mumbai. The conclave was attended by eminent scientist and Chancellor of Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR) and President of PIC, Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar, Director of IISER, Pune, Dr. K.N.Ganesh, renowned mathematician, Dr. Mangala Narlikar and PIC Trustee, Mr. Mukesh Malhotra among other stakeholders from the field of education and industry.

The report presented by ORF was prepared after surveying 30 colleges and interviewing 75 concerned people belonging to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. It was based on a study of the tertiary science education in India. It was aimed at fortifying the education system in colleges, which plays an integral part in churning out able and erudite personnel who could contribute to scientific advancements in the future, and in turn towards sustainable economic development of the country.

Dr. K.N.Ganesh opined that the quality of faculty must never be compromised. After recruiting a teacher, he/she must be provided with all kinds of assistance.  Unfortunately in India, education is treated as a business. Educators in western countries build and promote an institution through grants and chains instead of opening an individual one.

Dr. Mangala Narlikar said that education at the school level needed to be improved first for an improvement at higher levels. “Traditionally, students in India are not taught to think independently. We should encourage them to ask honest questions and find solutions to them,” she said. Mr. Malhotra put forth a similar argument. He said that first and foremost the examination system needed to change. A student’s understanding of a concept must be scrutinised rather than what he/she has been able to memorise, he said.

Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar noted that while everyone acknowledges that the Indian education system and especially science education needs to change, one must ponder more over ‘how’ to make these changes happen in addition to ‘what’ changes need to be seen.