Q.1 Please acquaint our readers with your journey as a visionary educationist, the Managing Trustee & Executive President of MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU)
I am currently at the helm of 4 universities consisting of 72 faculties/institutes, which are a part of the MAEER’s MIT Group of Institutions, Pune with over 65,000 students under its fold. My father Prof. Dr. Vishwanath D Karad, a visionary educationist, founded MAEER’s MIT Group of Institutions, Pune as one of the first private engineering colleges in Maharashtra in 1983.
Over the last four decades, MIT as a group, has charted immense growth and has become one of the most preferred and respected educational institutions in India, having over 1,00,000 alumni in a wide array of fields. The MIT legacy is built strongly on delivering a value-based education that not only sees its graduates pass out of the university each year with excellent academic and professional skills but also instils values such as integrity, honesty in them that allow them to contribute towards the betterment of humanity.
I did my graduation in engineering and post-graduation in management from Cardiff University, U.K., I am also an alumnus of the Harvard Business School, U.S.A. I began my journey in 2001 when I started looking after the Management Faculty. At that time, MIT was widely renowned for its engineering program, but the management program was relatively new. I, with the experience of international exposure to management education, imbibed a modern outlook in the approach & pedagogy of the management program and successfully brought about a paradigm shift which was reflected as the huge expansion in number of programs both at UG and PG levels.
In 2005, to address my burning desire to contribute to nation-building, I decided to trudge a new path reflecting in the shape of the MIT School of Government, the first institution of its kind, not only in India but also in Asia, to start a professional program for a career in Politics & Government. This was at a time when, generally, politics was not even considered a career option. The School of Government was soon discussed and appreciated across party lines and has increased manifold in stature and prestige by its concentrated efforts of strengthening the fabric of Indian Democratic Leadership.
To increase the sphere of MIT School of Government and to take its classroom training to thousands of common youths, I conceptualized an innovative platform, Bhartiya Chhatra Sansad. BCS represents a non-partisan and independent platform. Its mission is to initiate the spirit of student politics in the youth of today and inculcate public-spirited and socially sensitive values right during their formative years. Through its annual national conclave, the platform is transforming the outlook of thousands of youths and reaffirming their respect for politics, political leaders, democracy and its institutions. Over the last 10 years, many stalwarts from the fields of politics, academics, spirituality among many others have shared their thoughts on the platform of BCS, inspiring thousands of young leaders across the nation.
Since the concept of BCS has been materialized, the School of Government has created many platforms to cater to other socially impactful sections such as women, teachers, civil servants, rural governance etc.
In 2017, MIT Group of Institutions became MIT World Peace University (MIT-WPU), a self-financed state private University.
Q2. What is your outlook on the higher education sector in India?
The future of education could be an amalgamation of transformations driven by Education 4.0, NEP 2020, present pandemic and emerging student needs and new technologies. The future of education will be focused on enhancing the student experience and ensuring that learners are supported by the education institutes across their journey. New models of education focused on blended learning, micro credentials and interdisciplinary entablements are going to prevail.
A hybrid model i.e., the conventional classroom blended with virtual classroom and e-learning to going to prevail in the coming years. The role of private players in the education sector, including education service providers, training and content providers, ed-tech companies etc., will increase. Also, collaborative and cooperative research efforts in universities is going to increase.
The pandemic has demonstrated the need for sustainable development in every aspect of life. Both educational/research institutes and industry are expected to focus on research related to sustainable development in the coming period
Q3. Is there anything that Indian universities and colleges need to focus on to be on par with international Universities?
The prime focus to be at par with international universities should be research. The quality of research work directly translates to the quality of teaching and learning. High quality industry-relevant research will attract private funding as in international universities
Developing a flexible system with interdisciplinarity and switching options, more practical and research-based approach to pedagogy, and having regularly updated & industry relevant curriculum are some of the other areas we should focus on.
In my opinion, the higher education system should focus not only on technological excellence but also on value-based education. At MIT-WPU, we believe not just in churning out students as products but as extensively trained professionals who will stand for eternal human values and world peace as complete global citizens. ‘Technology, Research, Social Innovation and Partnerships’ is the theme that outlines our core approach at MIT-WPU. There is a well-defined roadmap to create a synergy of academia with technology, technology with research, research with industry, industry with economy, economy with social innovation and social innovation with peace, leading to the well-being of one and all.
Q4. How can we bridge the skill gap between academia and the professional world?
The skill gap can be addressed via multiple ways. The curriculum is to be revised regularly and to be developed in accordance with what industry needs. Academia can also look at existing pedagogies and see if the same can be improved and made more practical in approach.
The focus needs to shift from theoretical knowledge to skill-based education with a more practical and dynamic approach. Adequate workplace exposure through internships, live projects, and corporate interactions is to be given to the students. It is also imperative to provide the right exposure and training to the faculty.
Q5. What are things to consider when choosing a course and career after the 12th?
There are mainly three factors one should consider:
The aim – What does one want out of life.
The strengths and weaknesses. – What does one like and is good at.
The emerging careers that are going to be in demand in the future. – Analyse the options carefully and engage a mentor if needed.
When it comes to choosing a career, your college or course, don’t choose what is most convenient. Choose what will intellectually stimulate you and motivate you to make a good career.
Q6. How teaching-learning methods evolved during the pandemic?
The pandemic and overnight shift of academics to online has led many to wonder about the role a teacher plays in the information age where all the information is available anytime and anywhere. Due to the pandemic, teachers across the country made adjustments to their teaching style and devised new teaching strategies.
Creating content suitable for remote learning using technology and tools, activity-based learning, conducting online assessments, adopting a more holistic approach towards assessments are some of the methods that evolved. Activity-based learning also shifted the role of students from “passive receptors” to “active participants. The way teachers are being trained has also seen a change in the pandemic.
Q7. How is social media reshaping today’s education system?
Social media is now a big part of our daily life and there’s no point of keeping it away from the education process.
Social Media has empowered students, teachers, and parents to use new ways of sharing information and build a community. It provides easy access to information and is opening-up the educational experience for many students in disadvantaged, under-funded or ignored communities.
Students are using social media to meet, organize and collaborate. They are also using it for internships and exchange programs. Teachers are using social media to re-think the teaching process. Parents are using social media to boost their overall engagement.
Like every other thing that you can think of, it has its advantages and disadvantages, but we cannot just overlook the positive effects of social media in education and focus on the negative effects alone.