‘Education needs radical new initiatives’

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Radically new initiatives are needed in our higher education as many institutions fail to match standards of not just the best in the world but also those in East Asia — including countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. This was the warning sounded by S. Rajendra Babu, former Chief Justice of India and former Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission, while delivering the 49th convocation address of the Bangalore University (BU) here on Tuesday.

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As many as 151 gold medals and cash prizes were presented during the convocation in which 51,268 students were eligible to receive degrees and 223 Ph.D’s were awarded. Honorary doctorates were conferred on Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (Science and biotechnology) — in absentia; G.B. Paramashivaiah (social work); S.S. Arakeri (social work); B.T. Lakshman (education); Hamsalekha (cine music); and The Hindu’s former Chief of Bureau P. Ramaiah (journalism). Calling it paradoxical that many industrialists in the country say our graduates are unemployable when Indians are feted with awards and top posts abroad, Mr. Babu questioned whether there is a balance between ‘research and teaching, domestic needs and international trends and required ability and adequate reward’ in our academics.

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“The Indian education system is very rigid. Most universities give package courses and students cannot opt for subjects of their choice. Conditions for recruitment are very specific, often demanding narrow specialisation even within a discipline,” he said.

Speaking about universities, which he said are mostly examining bodies, he said colleges affiliated to them have neither resources nor the faculty to undertake interesting research.

“Political interference in any academic matter should be shunned and at the same time appropriate links with the political leadership at the highest level is required,” he said.

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