The National Education Plan 2020 of the Government of India was finally published almost exactly six months ago, after exhaustive discussion and consultations of a Draft Plan throughout the country, at all professional levels of education over the preceding twelve months.
Pages 33 to 43 in particular, focus on the challenges and goals for Higher Education in the future with such positive headings as ( Sections 9 -16) : Quality Universities and Colleges; Institutional Restructuring & Consolidation; Towards a More Holistic and Multidisciplinary Education; Optimal Learning Environments and Support for Students; Motivated, Energized and Capable Faculty; Equity and Inclusion in Higher Education; Teacher Education; and new approaches to Vocational Education with immediate impact on practice and employability for students.
The Plan goes on to address other macro-issues across education such as the Use of Technology and its integration with traditional approaches; Catalyzing Academic Research in all fields through a new National Research Foundation; Online and Digital Education and the need to ensure the equitable access to, and use, of these approaches; financing and affordability (the slice of GDP allocated to implementing the plan rose from 1.7 percent of GDP to 6 percent of GDP allegedly for financing and implementing the Plan over the course of what was doubtless, a fruitful discussion period).And last but not least and welcomed by almost everybody without a vested interest:
“It is all very well to talk boldly of 'self-sufficiency' and disruptive strategies to competitively win but we live in a world that depends on global sustainability, cooperation, and collaboration and trade”
Transforming the Regulatory System of Higher Education
To this independent observer, it has been the dead hand of standardized university regulation that has stifled innovation and experimentation with different pedagogy and curricular development in particular. Increased, but limited autonomy has been allowed to only a relatively very few institutions of higher learning, based on various criteria ranging from pure longevity, and size, to financial muscle, but a track record of only promise on the academic field of excellence in teaching, research, and service: or in ontology, epistemology and pedagogy.
So, it is with great joy and a positive spirit, that I am joining the fresh and new Rishihood University in Sonipat, Haryana in February 2021, as we look forward to pioneering growth, making a positive and quick impact, innovating, and navigating the still turbulent and dangerous waters of a post-Covid 19 World.
Rishihood has had to trim her sails to postpone the maiden fully-packed voyage until later this year. But it has been uplifting to find that given the main themes of the NEP 2020: 1) the Approach is Holistic; 2) the stated Values are Innovation and Impact; 3) the Common Core is made up of 21st Century Skills, a Liberal Arts foundation that incorporates Science and Digital Competence; 4) Multi-Model Learning experiences that include Projects, Research, Internships and Exposure to the World through Travel; and 5) a Choice-based curriculum that includes Major subjects with Minors and Electives, Global Immersion Opportunities: Peer-driven courses; and Field trips outside the classroom to directly experience, observe, hear, smell, touch the ‘real’ multi-cultural, multi-lingual world outside the university campus.
Our existing five schools are not independent, narrowly focused, silos of specialization. Instead, they are ‘common pool resources’ to be shared and enjoyed as springboards not platforms, for learning and inquiry, satisfaction and success. Within each degree programme there are naturally a wide range of specializations that focus and sharpen the students’ preparedness for employment, mobility potential, and personal development, coupled with confidence, humility, and the determination to pursue lifelong continuous learning.
From 20 years ago, when I first happily moved over from being an international banker, to the world of academia and founding dean of several business schools around the world I have developed my '7Ps' of what it takes to become a true ‘Professional’.
One needs to be: Positive, Prepared, Persistent, Patient, Precise, Polite, and Punctual!
As I have written in our information booklet for 2021: “Being an entrepreneur is a state of mind, an attitude to balancing risk and rewards, innovation, decision-making and action. Entrepreneurs master analytical tools and advanced digital techniques to impact a competitive family-owned business, or venture capital start-ups, and ‘seed’ investment for growth. Entrepreneurs need good communications, teamwork, and leadership skills and a sharp global awareness of threats, ethical responsibilities, and opportunities in business, civil society, and the natural environment”.
It is all very well to talk boldly of “self-sufficiency” and disruptive strategies to competitively win. But we live in a world that depends on global sustainability, cooperation, and collaboration and trade: Trade in ideas (research) and in products (vaccine). We must keep the best, and change the rest. My colleagues who are Deans of the School of Creativity, School of Education, School of Healthcare, School of Public Leadership -with more to come, under the leadership of our Rishihood University Governing Body, would also agree to that, I am sure:
“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”
MEDITATION XVII (1623) from “Devotions upon Emergent Occasions” by John Donne (1572-1631)
Michael J. Barnes, Dean School of Entrepreneurship
Professor (Dr) Michael J. Barnes is the newly-appointed Dean of the School of Entrepreneurship at Rishihood University, Sonipat, Haryana, India. His words are his own, and do not necessarily represent exactly the official views of the institution and her senior management.