Showing posts from May, 2013

Education = Employability?

The technique is familiar: If you want to make a claim, make it sound like a self-evident truth. And, persist, as you will do if it is a self-evident truth. And if anyone disagrees, just keep making the claim, as if it is the self-evident truth. Again, again and again. Such is the case for the claim that education is for employability. Even if there is a doubt lurking in your mind, disagreeing, or even questioning such a claim is so risky: It is almost like questioning the merits of democracy in today's world, or something similar. Even if you are right, you would be regarded a socialist. So, I would stay away from raising the question whether, philosophically, education should be for employability. I shall accept that for a vast majority of students, this is really what it should be. Particularly as higher education comes with the prospect of a lifelong debt, it is insensitive to talk about a liberal education, which may prepare the mind but leave the bank account empty. Be

Imagining A New Indian University: Part 2

An university is a learning community, and should be founded as such. Starting any other way will set the university onto a wrong trajectory, I contend. The new breed of Indian universities, which start with fancy buildings and even big budget advertising campaigns, are, therefore, doomed to fail. And, this failure is not going to be a sudden demise, a financial bankruptcy, which may indeed come later, but a slow decline over a period of time, ruining the careers of generations of students and destroying their lives. This is the inherent tragedy of bad Higher Education, and this will spell the doom, in time, for the Indian experiment. One can't really build a modern democracy without a functioning Higher Education system. I say this because democracy is about hope and about participation; one can not achieve either of this without a system of higher education doing its bit. India's systematic neglect of its Higher Education system, partially to preserve the privileges best

Building A Global Operating System for Education

The more we do it, we love what we are doing, and this must be a good sign. But even better is that we are learning as we go along - we have tested every assumption that we had and now have a fairly clear idea of the constraints and the opportunities - and I have learnt more in the last nine months about the business of international education than I did in my previous twenty years. There are several reasons why I feel that way, but chiefly because I can now push the boundaries and trying to do something which is truly ambitious. Also, it is an important fact that we are really small, just a start-up with few people and quite finite resources, and this puts things in perspective. So, for us, ambition is not a fancy thing to be indulged upon, but rather a constant reminder of our limitations and an invitation to be innovative. Which means every new opportunity means revisiting the business plan, a temptation to meddle with the sacred Excel sheets that we got made through a friendly

A Requiem for Kolkata

A city without hope, someone told me, and pointed that Kolkata is one major city in the world whose population is decreasing. Statements such as these do not make us angry any more. And what a contrast that makes with the indignation we felt when Rajiv Gandhi called Kolkata (Calcutta then) a 'dying city', or later, when a speaker at a conference in Taj Bengal committed the ultimate faux pas commenting that the city had 'gone to the dogs'. There is indeed a sadness, a sense of loss, about the place we shall all call Home, and surely a touch of guilt for doing nothing.  But talking about Kolkata always evokes other issues, which must be resolved. Such as, what the city really is, and whether it should be saved. For all the love of Kolkata, its decadent buildings, alleyways, noise of the streets, Kolkata is portrayed as the City of Raj trying to live beyond its time. Its people are fabled for trying to cling to privileges and comfort of an era long gone, object to the

An Incomplete Global History of ‘For-Profit’ Education

Early History While the growth and prominence of For Profit institutions, particularly of degree granting variety, is a relatively recent phenomenon, For-Profit education has a long history on both sides of the Atlantic. Reigner (1959) traces back the origins of For-Profit instruction to 1494 and the development of double-entry book-keeping in Italy. A popular book-keeping textbook was published by Hugh Oldcastle, who ‘taught the booke’ in London (Reigner, 1959). Hayes and Jackson (1935) traces the history of early business schools to the practice of one-on-one instruction on book-keeping, which evolved into the English Grammar Schools in the early Eighteenth century, which promoted a practical education for students who were not interested in classical training common in schools then. In 1617, a college at Henrico was proposed to raise money for cash-strapped Virginia Colony (Land, 1938, quoted in Kinser, 2006), and capital was raised for the same: However

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