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“We have given our power of thought to Google,”says Prof. Ram Ramaswamy

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Jayasimha

BENGALURU: “Gross enrollment ration in India is less than 20% which is far lesser than the international standard which is above 35% and universities in India are not equipped to address these issues,” said Prof. Dr. Ram Ramaswamy, Professor in the school of Physical Sciences, and at JNU and former Vice Chancellor of Central University, Hyderabad.

“There is nothing structurally Indian about our universities and the model that we follow is of colonial legacy where universities were meant to just give degrees not education. Hence our education system is in deep crisis,” he said.

He was speaking on ‘Higher education in India: crisis and challenges’ organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) at TERI complex, Bangalore International Centre. “Unfortunately, we have given our power of thought to Google, to the first page of search engine, which I call as epistemic colonialism,” he opined.

He also said that there is a need to take into consideration the experiences of our colonial past, our post-colonial present and the globalizing present before formulating any policies in general and education in particular. Raising concern over the curriculum in the universities he said, “Curriculum in universities change much slower than the subjects itself change. Hence there has to be a structural change in the system itself.”

Pointing the inadequacies in the system he said that higher education in India is in crisis because India cannot easily address the problems at the higher education level simply because primary education system is not solid and the universities are not equipped intellectually, academically, financially and infrastructure wise to facilitate quality education and gross enrolment ratio.

Dr Mathew Manimala, Director, Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship, Bengaluru said that this was an important issue, which needed immediate and earnest attention as higher education plays a vital role in the development of the country. He appreciated Bangalore International Centre for addressing this issue at a crucial point of time when the National Educational Policy is being drafted.

“Higher education was always neglected till the modern times because the ancients believed that the scriptures are the sum total of all the knowledge, hence they could not think beyond it. Thanks to renaissance which liberated learning from religion,” he said.

“Ancients did have a lot of scientific temper with human interest, we need their wisdom but that should not constrain our development. There should be a greater focus on technical and technological education,” he added.

He also said that affirmative actions without basic facilities will not yield any growth and education for social desirability will not at all work, and is dangerous. “The spirit of education is to bring out not to stuff information,” he concluded.

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