“Acquiring knowledge and scoring marks is not a mutually exclusive process” – CA Sunil G. Karve

CA Sunil G. Karve, Chairman, Governing Board – Kohinoor Education Trust (KET), discusses a few simple and effective methodologies for student development with Shraddha Kamdar.

He’s spent years in higher education and he draws is inspiration and philosophy from the traditional Gurukul system of our forefathers. Prominent Educationist CA Sunil G. Karve, Founder Trustee – Mumbai Educational Trust (MET) and Chairman, Governing Board – Kohinoor Education Trust (KET), has an unparalleled passion to enable and empower today’s youth to achieve their goals and reach heights that they have imagined for themselves. In the process, his rich experience enables him to mentor all the stake holders alike, including students and parents. Excerpts from an interview:

What should the colleges and teachers do in the individual capacity to engage the students even if the syllabus is stagnant sometimes?

As long as the colleges are affiliated to a university, the syllabus and curriculum will be decided by the university and the respective college will have a very limited role. That said, however, it is up to every college and institute to look upon this as a challenge and find solutions for it, instead of blaming the system.

Every college and institute apart from meeting the requirement of the set syllabus, can always provide additional inputs to the students which can help bridge the gap between the latest industry developments and the syllabus. They are free to do so! For that, however, the willingness on part of the college and teachers is a necessity. For this, teachers need to be passionate and keep themselves updated regularly and continuously.

Why is it that students, however good they are, end up running behind marks (to score well) even when they are secure in the programme they are pursuing?

A competitive system will always ask for an evaluation, and therefore we cannot wish the exams away. For this, marks are necessary and even important to the students, since they indicate how well they know a particular subject. But, one needs to understand, that for scoring marks, cramming is not required. No one has stopped the students from doing both – understanding the subject as well as doing well at the exams to score good marks!

To be successful, a student needs to have the best of both. We have to ensure that we inculcate that, and we do not sacrifice one at the cost of the other. After all, it is not mutually exclusive. Students should also realise that to score well, it is not necessary to indulge in mindless or blind rote learning. They can dip their feet in both the buckets – they can get the knowledge and understand the concepts, and then devise methods to utilise this knowledge to answer the questions in the exams so as to get as many marks as possible.

In this entire gamut of higher education, what role does experiential learning play?

Experiential learning is a huge challenge. It is human psyche that unless one is rewarded (or there is a price tag attached), one is not going to understand the value of the said experience. Here, the role of the institution as a facilitator comes in. The students by themselves individually will not be able to understand or appreciate the value of the things which do not carry marks in the short term. May be later when they start working they will go back and understand, but in the present situation, the teachers, mentors and staff members should try and impress upon the students that there are things of much more value for them to succeed in life, not only exams.

In such a scenario, is it necessary for students to hone their soft skills simultaneously?

See, the superficial external idea I really don’t subscribe to. The software that is within a human being is the one that needs care. That internal software will automatically resonate with the skills reflected externally. We are not living in silo, we are all social. We need to interact with others. For that, it is essential that what we communicate is understood by others in the right perspective. And since English is the most widely used language in the business and social world today, knowledge of and a good grasp over the language is important from the student’s point of view.

What else can colleges and institutes do to prepare students for real life?

Preparing kids for real life is no longer in the hands of the institute today. The youth are maturing so well today, they are well informed, and are not going to be pushed by anyone or anything. They have the capacity to identify their interests, and pursue whatever they think is the most apt for them. Today’s youth will not stop for anything. I have tremendous faith in them!

What kind of proactive behaviour that should be encouraged for today’s students?

Every student, irrespective of the programme he is studying should take out at least half an hour to one hour every day for himself. He should try and think and analyse whatever has happened during that day and perhaps the previous day and not just move to the next day mechanically as part of a routine exercise. This thought and analysis will give them an insight on what they are doing currently and they will be able to gauge what they should be doing next to achieve their goals. This process will also open their minds to accept new ideas and concepts.

All of this is important because at the end of their programme, they will not only have to be experts in the subject of their study, but they would also be expected to actually apply the knowledge they have assembled and processed and get the desired results.

I feel, that’s why, they should have maximum interaction within and outside the institute. Working for social and cultural projects will also help them blossom.

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