The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) need to revise their curriculum to compete at the international level, newly-appointed Union Minister for Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Kapil Sibal, told mediapersons while taking charge today.
He also clarified that pending Bills, drafted by the previous government, would be pushed forward. The important Bills include the Foreign Education Bill and Right to Education Bill. If passed in Parliament, the Foreign Education Bill will allow foreign higher education providers to set up Indian campuses. At present, foreign universities are forbidden from offering degree courses in India by the MHRD that governs education. Sibal, however, did not provide any details in this regard.
Explaining his stance on revising the IIT/IIM curriculum, he said: "Because of technology and automation, the economy has changed and it has become difficult for graduates to find jobs. So, there has to be a change in the school and university curriculum."
Some IIMs agree there is a need to change the curriculum so that they are abreast with changing times. "Our education system has been slow in responding to the changes around us. For instance, management institutes like us are now questioned about the relevance of the management education that is being offered after the economic slowdown. So, for us to live upto what is expected from us, we will have to incorporate the changes," said Devi Singh, Director, IIM-Lucknow.
However, another IIM professor countered: "IIMs have always upgraded the curriculum as and when required. We are conscious of the fact that we have to adjust and respond to the changing needs. However, if the ministry expects us to incorporate some changes, we will do it."
Incidentally, the R C Bhargava (Chairman of Maruti Suzuki) IIM Review Committee report said that most of the IIM management development programmes (MDPs) consist of courses for comparatively junior PSU executives reflecting on the perception of business and industry about the value addition which IIMs can provide for senior managers.
When contacted, Bhargava said: "I believe education is a very important ministry among the top three ministries in India but has not been given its due. Mr Sibal's appointment gives a great degree of hope that the education sector will see a lot of reforms soon."
Meanwhile, emphasising on the fact that this ministry is linked to youth, children and families and that it needs to be seen how it can take India forward, Sibal said: "For us, the larger vision is of access and quality meaning that all should get good quality education with access to education. The challenges in this are private education institutions- both aided and unaided, government institutions and institutions of excellence."
Commenting on the reservations in education because of the OBC quota, he said that all new policies have teething problems.
As for the recommendations made by the Prime Minister-appointed National Knowledge Commission (NKC) whose term ended in March, Sibal said, "NKC is pivotal for creating a knowledge economy but this does not mean that whatever it says should be embraced or adopted. If the need arises, their recommendations will be adopted."
On the school education front, the minister said school fees are an area of great concern and that anyone in need, would receive financial aid so that no child is denied education because of lack of resources.
Teacher training is an 'exceptionally serious' problem and so is ragging in schools and colleges that will be looked at. Skill development is another area of concern for the ministry.
Explaining the similarities and proximity between MHRD and his previous ministry of Science and Technology, Sibal said, "There are synergies between the MHRD and Ministry of Science and Technology and these will be included in MHRD."