Strong knowledge society key to prosperity: RK Ranjan
Strong knowledge society key to prosperity

TMB Report
Imphal: Noting that knowledge creation and research are critical in growing and sustaining a large and vibrant economy, uplifting society, and continuously inspiring a nation to achieve even greater heights; Union Minister of State for Education & External Affairs Dr RK Ranjan asserted that it has been experienced throughout the world that a country can become prosperous only by becoming a strong knowledge society.

Speaking at the Education Summit and Awards, 2023 organised by Asia Today Research & Media on Monday, Dr RK Ranjan stated that in today’s world, a country becomes great not just on the basis of natural resources alone but due to their human capital, the people; therefore, the real premium is on people, talent, and expertise.

He stated that the contemporary paradigm of learning through doing was the core of Indian Gurukul System where the relationship between a Guru and his pupil was calm, serene but full of mental churning and learning.

We are aware of the enormously rich heritage of our ancient education philosophies and systems of thought. The pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and truth was always considered in Indian thought and philosophy as the highest human goal. The ancient Indian education system was geared towards the holistic development of mature individuals. Its purpose was to create an overall well being, he maintained.

With this outlook, we gave the world immaculate centers of knowledge and learning like Nalanda, Takshashila, Vikramshila, Vallabhi, which set very high standards of multidisciplinary academics, the Union Minister continued.

Dr RK Ranjan opined that the robust ecosystem of research is perhaps more important than ever with the rapid changes occurring in the world today, e.g., in the realm of climate change, population dynamics and management, biotechnology, an expanding digital marketplace, and the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Facing and addressing these challenges will require high-quality interdisciplinary research across fields that must be done in India and cannot simply be imported, he averred.

He also observed that research and innovation in Higher Education Institutions is critical as the best teaching and learning processes occur only in institutions having a strong culture of research and knowledge creation.

Globally, 71 percent of spending on R&D is being made by the private sector but in India, R&D spending by the private sector is only 37 percent. Also, in the USA & China, R&D spending is 36 times and 16 times respectively than that in India due to far better collaboration between Universities and Industry. Hence, massive involvement of the private sector is required in our country and in implementation of the National Education Policy 2020, 50,000 crore National Research Foundation is being activated by the Government to encourage merit based research in universities. Thus, we need to focus on the quality of education to bring out the transformation required, he conveyed.

However, despite various improvements in the status of the academic profession, faculty motivation in terms of teaching, research, and service in Higher Educational Institutions remains far lower than the desired level. Each faculty member is supposed to be happy, enthusiastic, engaged, and motivated towards advancing her/his students, institution, and profession, he stated.

Stating that curriculum, pedagogy, continuous assessment, and student support are the cornerstones for quality learning; Dr RK Ranjan stressed that the National Education
Policy, 2020 places enormous challenge and responsibility on institutions and faculty as they have been given autonomy to innovate on matters of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment within a broad framework of higher education qualifications while ensuring consistency across institutions, programmes and modes.

Accordingly, curriculum and pedagogy will be designed by institutions and motivated faculty to ensure a stimulating and engaging learning experience for all students, and continuous formative assessment will be used to further the goals of each programme by continuous and comnprehensive evaluation. Faculty should have the capacity and training to be able to approach students not just as teachers, but also as mentors and guides, he explained.

All programmes, courses, curricula, and pedagogy across subjects, including in-class, online, and in Open Distance Learning modes as
well as student support should aim to achieve global standards of quality. Faculty are to be empowered to conduct innovative teaching, research, and service as they see best as that will be a key motivator and enabler for them to do truly outstanding, creative work, he stated.

The Union Minister also noted that the presence of outstanding and enthusiastic institutional leaders that cultivate excellence and innovation is the need of the hour and that outstanding and effective institutional leadership is extremely important for the success of an institution and of its faculty.

Excellent faculty with high academic and service credentials as well as demonstrated leadership and management skills need to be identified early and trained through a ladder of leadership positions. Institutional leaders should aim to create a culture of excellence that will motivate and incentivize outstanding and innovative teaching, research, institutional service, and community outreach from faculty members and all HEI leaders, he added.