Sashi Tharoor on higher education

This is with reference to ‘What is well-educated?’ (Knowledge, November 12) by Priti Botadkar. Sashi Tharoor,our new Minister of State for HRD, has bemoaned that ‘our education policy is out of step with times’ and that ‘our universities are not producing quality graduates’.  He went on to point out that ‘corporates are entering the higher education space under the guise of training’ and added in good measure that ‘India turned away academic suitors from abroad while countries in the Middle-East and China are going out of their way to woo foreign universities’.

As for his finding fault with our present educational policy, it has to be conceded that he is right.  If the reasons for this failing are analysed, it will be found that the problem is only with our curricula, the quality of teachers and the lack of flexibility in the colleges to charge higher fees in tune with the job-opportunities that the students get in their institutions, as B K Nair has correctly diagnosed.

The curricula followed in our universities and colleges have to be constantly updated keeping in mind the requirements of the employers and this can be done only by the teachers dealing with the various courses. For this, a continuous interaction with the corporates is essential. There is nothing wrong if experienced people from the business houses come to the universities to impart training to the students some of whom may be joining their firms later. Qualified teachers need to be paid good salaries in order to prevent them from seeking greener pastures all the time.  They cannot be blamed if they do because their students start off with very high emoluments and commensurate perks wherever they join.

 DR V SUBRAMANYAN, Thane

Teaching morality

This is with reference to ‘Can morality be taught in a kit?’ (Knowledge, November 12).  The answer to this question is: ‘Yes, it can be taught’ though morality does not come in  box.   One would agree with Dr.Shubada Joglekar’s balanced view that “we must not be so hasty in dismissing either this initiative or the kit so fast”.

In fact, the new HRD minister, Pallam Raju, deserves to be complimented on the idea of the kit to serve as a broad guideline on moral education for CBSE teachers across all classes.  The kit seems to be quite comprehensive with a CD containing eight songs and cards on morals for students from nursery to class XII.  The idea is not entirely new because ‘Moral Science’ has been taught in several schools in the country for years.

And today with rave parties and all that goes with them, it is very necessary that moral values are emphasised.  There is no harm in trying it out and it is bound to have some salutary effect on some at least.  The only suggestion that can be made is to change the contents of the CD in tune with the level of the students if it is not already done.

DR V SUBRAMANYAN, Thane

You make an excellent and valid point, Sir. It is the need of the hour to emphasise moral values, but can teachers imbibe it from a box? That is the only question. – Editor

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