17 June 2015

Where are the engineers?

“Ironically, engineering education is completely broken not in spite of but because of the very success of the IITs and engineering colleges.”

That only a third of IIT students go on to pursue technology is symptomatic of the deep crisis in engineering education today, and could be solved if practice is preferred to theory in the institutions.

A crisis, pundits on American television often say, is a terrible thing to waste. The recent unpleasantness following the de-recognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle by the Indian Institute of Technology administration is a case in point. That the administration found a graceful way to put an end to the impasse and come to some reconciliation with the small group of students involved is, of course, important. But it also gives us occasion to ponder over some bigger questions involving higher education in India.

The issues concerning greater inclusivity for long-marginalised groups and of freedom of speech on campus are important but most university administrators have found effective ways to resolve these problems through models such as affirmative action and diversity policies, gender and ethnic sensitivity training, modular learning programmes, remedial education and so on. Indian universities could adapt these to the local context. Periodic workshops and meetings of senior academic administrators could also help.

Read the opinion page article from The Hindu dt. 17th Jun 2015

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