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HOW SCHOOLS ARE PRIORITISING STUDENT SAFETY AMID COVID-19

Schools are opting for the online-offline blend along with safety and hygiene measures while gearing up to resume the classes, as and when they are granted permission.

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Many schools switched to online education a few months back, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, to continue providing education to students and keep them productively occupied during the pandemic. While it greatly helped as no other option was available, online education cannot replace classroom teaching in the long run, keeping in mind many students, as well as the schools, don’t have the technology required for the same.

Case in point, the underprivileged students do not have access to smartphones, laptops and high-speed Internet. They have suffered from a lack of education in the time of the pandemic which is a cause of concern. Also, the students who could not continue their sports training are suffering.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare allowed a phased reopening of schools from 21 September for classes 9-12 on a “voluntary basis” and with written permission from the parents. In many states, schools have not opened so far while partial reopening has been seen in some.

Resource strain, managing students and teachers as well as the expectations of parents while not overburdening the staff and increased operational costs are making the decision of reopening schools difficult for the administrations.

Since Covid-19 is not going to go away soon, schools are getting ready to resume classes with safety and hygiene protocols, operational changes and use of technology for seamless learning.

The circumstances are indeed worrisome, but schools are leaving no stone unturned to ensure the safety and well-being of students and staff. They will be taking the utmost precautions for the same.

Bharat Goyal, founder and director of Bhartiyam International School, Uttarakhand, opines, “The crucial aspects of reopening include regular disinfection of school building, sanitisation protocols of every individual entering the premises, directions and marking for maintaining social distancing inside the school premise. To ensure the above, automatic sanitiser dispensing machine, digital face mask detection, automatic temperature sensors, queue marks and more will be used. The school furniture has been reorganised to ensure social distancing inside the school premise including classrooms. SOPs have been made for administration, teachers and students.”

He adds that besides these, the stress of implementing a blended offline-online model is extreme. The schools have to ensure that there is a seamless transition between online to the hybrid model, but many factors are posing difficulties in its implementation. Since the entire student strength will not be coming to school for offline classes, so enabling the same class online is a challenge for many. Otherwise, the teachers will have to take the same class twice.

Goyal points out, “This poses increased pressure for teachers wherein they are currently facing pay cuts and with an increased workload, there is a big chance of health risks as well. The transport system will also to run in extreme loss with half capacity students boarding at any given time. All these are posing operational problems in front of school administrations, in a country like India where the majority of schools are budget schools, with low technology adoption and in Covid-19 pandemic, their fee collections has also been low.”

All the classrooms of the school are equipped with smartboard and digital communication equipment. The teachers would be taking offline classes and share the same content digitally. Undoubtedly, this blended model is relatively expensive but can pave a way for a smooth transition between online to a hybrid model, which is the need of the hour.

Like some other private schools, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, too is equipped with the necessary technologies to provide a seamless learning experience. Principal Alka Kapur informs that teachers would be simultaneously taking offline and online classes. Going a step ahead, the school has also come up with O lab app for practical experiments. The syllabus has also been reduced by 30%.

“Since the talks of reopening of schools have been doing the rounds, we have been receiving calls/texts from worried parents/guardians of our students. We understand that these are tough times. Everybody is scared, especially parents. Yet, complying with government norms is essential,” says Uttam Singh, principal of Jindal Public School, Dwarka, Delhi. He informs, “We have been waiting for the government’s orders to reopen the school. To prepare ourselves for the reopening, we have been involved in diligent planning of the precautions to be undertaken. We have placed the desks and chairs a few feet apart to avoid any physical contact. We will be asking the students to sanitise their hands at regular intervals. At the entry point, the guards and teachers will be monitoring the body temperature of students and sanitise them. Every student, staff member, management, etc, will have to go through the same routine to ensure safety.”

Many schools have reopened in Uttar Pradesh. Talking about it, the spokesperson of VIBGYOR High, Lucknow, emphasises, “In compliance with the statutory guidelines, we restarted physical classes from 20 October 2020, for grades 9 to 12. The safety and well-being of students and staff are our absolute priority, and hence we ensured that the entire campus including playgrounds, laboratories, corridors, and stairs, were disinfected before reopening and that the process is being carried out regularly. Signages have been put up to facilitate adherence to social distancing norms, and we have limited the class size to 15 students.”

The spokesperson adds, “Only students with written permissions from their parents are allowed to attend the school, and they wear face masks and face shields. The staff wears masks and temperature checks are conducted for students and staff before entry and exit in the campus. We have also set up medical care stations around the campus, for quick access by students in case they feel unwell, and we also plan to conduct drives to raise awareness about Covid-19 precautions.”

Like various other schools, Greenwood High International School, Bengaluru, is waiting for the go-ahead from the government to implement the phased reopening of school. School principal Aloysius D’Mello underlines, “Our Classrooms and campus are large enough to maintain social distancing. We are also introducing coatings on frequently used surfaces, which cause ionising substances mutating viruses. Our buses will now be equipped with thermal indicators, we will have thermal indicators at entry and exit points in the school and the entry and exits will be limited.”

Talking about how schools can meet the challenges at hand, Kapur says, “Schools have to maintain proper physical distancing among the students. They would have to talk to students and concisely explain to them its importance. Also, the schools would have to make sure that a member of the staff is always keeping an eye on the students.”

“Amid all this, the most important thing to remember is that if the parents aren’t convinced, they don’t have to send their children to school. The schools are primarily being opened to give an option to the students, who otherwise have no means of accessing education,” asserts Kapur.

Parents are naturally concerned about the safety of their children and are talking to them about things to keep in mind whenever they will be attending school. “I would first of all ask my child not to remove her mask at any cost. It’s a necessary and basic precaution against the novel coronavirus. Secondly, I would ask her to sanitise each and everything she touches, uses or sits on including chairs, table, books, stationery and more. Thirdly, I would ask her not to touch or hug or shake hands with others. Just to be 100% sure, I would ask her to keep a distance from her friends (at least 1 metre),” says Anika Chawla, a Delhi resident, whose daughter is in 11th class.

WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD SCHOOLS TAKE?

1. The safest way for students to commute to and from school would be via private vehicles of their parents/guardians. Other modes of conveyance should be avoided for the time being.

2. Thermal scanners should be placed at all the entry points to ensure that any student or staff, who is showing signs of sickness, could be isolated and treated as quickly as possible.

3. The classes should be conducted in a staggered manner. This will mean that at a time only a certain number of students would be present in the class. This would allow the school authorities to easily maintain proper physical distancing among the students and further reduce the chances of infection getting spread. Blended learning—with the help of webcams, speakers and microphones, supported by a strong network—would also play a major role in this, as the students can learn via a balanced combination of online and offline modes.

4. Schools should also consider investing in touchless sanitiser and water dispensers. Since the Covid-19 strain is notorious for spreading via surfaces, arranging touchless appliances could make a huge difference.

—By Alka Kapur, principal of Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi.

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Educationally Speaking

Strengthen your Ivy League admission preparation with research papers

Vivek Bhandari

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One common factor that we have noted in the resumes of students admitted to the Ivy Leagues and other top colleges is the prevalence of research work while still in high school.

In this article, we explain how and why exposure to research helps students and the key steps in planning and writing high-quality research papers. There are three main reasons, as to why research papers help students stand out. A high-quality research paper shows that you have the energy and the initiative to go beyond what is taught in the class and apply it to real-life problems.

It shows that your interest in the subject extends beyond the questions provided at the end of the chapter. Secondly, you learn the discipline of not rushing intuitively to the likely answer, instead of using a deliberate process in which you are guided by the data. Lastly, in working with a skilled professor or mentor you learn how to organise your thoughts better, ask the right questions and try to answer those questions in the best way possible subject to the constraints. A good work product provides an insight into your mind, thought process and way of working.

The following steps apply to high school students that want to learn more and differentiate themselves by conducting research and documenting it with a research paper.

DECIDE YOUR SUBJECT

The first question a student needs to answer is, “What is your favourite subject ?”. Do you like reading books and news related to that subject?

If for example, your favourite subject is economics, do you like to read the business newspaper, about the budget or interest rate changes? Are you able to relate what you have read in your textbooks with what you observe in the newspaper?

If your favourite subject is Physics, do you like to participate in science fairs or Olympiads in your school or city? Do you enjoy reading books by eminent Physicists? Do you like making science projects or designing models?

FIND THE RIGHT MENTOR

Once you know your subject, the next step is to find a strong mentor with experience in that field. You can find good mentors from an industry background or academia. For conducting research, it is advisable to have a mentor from academia as they are used to thinking broadly and spending time on framing the right question. Mentors with an industry background are generally better if you are trying to learn a specific activity or skill pertaining to their area.

Literature Review – Examine existing research papers in your subject

A crucial step in the research is to evaluate existing materials and recent developments in your subject. You need to know; a) the important topics that researchers are working on and b) what tools, statistical methods and data collection techniques are used. This is where a good mentor can share their work and help you understand the recent developments in that field.

UNDERSTAND YOUR CONSTRAINTS

Before you embark on a project, you need to understand what you can and cannot do. The time and resources available to, and the expectations from, a doctoral student is different, than those from an undergraduate student.

It is important to understand: i) the available time frame and ii) the available resources before you launch. For example, if you have access to a laboratory where you can test samples or conduct experiments, your data collection will be markedly different from someone who is conducting similar research based on a literature review. Understanding the constraints also helps the student decide whether to pursue Primary or Secondary Research.

CHOOSE YOUR TOPIC

By now you should be ready to choose your topic. The topic can be based on: a) recent events or research, b) your vision or imagination or c) literature review. You should have an idea of your constraints (available time and resources) available to you in your pursuit. At this stage, you should discuss your research plan with your mentor and finalise the topic.

FRAME THE RIGHT ‘QUESTION’

The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” calculated by an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought over 7.5 million years. Unfortunately, no one knows what the question is. Thus, to calculate the Ultimate Question, a special computer the size of a small planet was built from organic components and named “Earth”.

In real life, not asking the right question does not always lead to a dramatic answer like 42. However, it always leads to a significant waste of time and effort. Therefore, its important to take time and carefully frame your question or hypothesis.

ANSWER THE ‘QUESTION’

With a well-designed framework and research plan in place, you are finally ready for the races. You can start collecting the data and use it to answer your question(s). Despite all the planning and effort, you will still find new issues and problems. You may be able to overcome some of these yourselves and should consult with your mentor on the ones you find insurmountable.

A high-quality research paper provides an insight into your thought process and work ethic. The experience of learning your favourite subject beyond the textbooks while working with an accomplished mentor is an enriching and valuable life lesson. 

The writer is the Chief Executive and Co-founder of Scholarly.

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HOW PRACTICAL IS DIGITISATION IN GOVT-RUN SCHOOLS GIVEN THE CHALLENGES AROUND DEVICES?

Rustom Kerawalla

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In the past few years, the government has taken various initiatives to promote digital learning under the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT). eBasta is an initiative that offers a framework to make school books accessible in digital form as e-books to be read and used on tablets and laptops. Further, a few other initiatives include SWAYAM, SWAYAM Prabha, National Digital Library (NDL), Spoken Tutorial, Free and Open Source Software for Education (FOSSEE), Virtual Lab, E-Yantra, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Through the Digital India initiative, plans are afoot to connect various distant areas with high-speed Internet networks. 

There are, however, challenges that exist when it comes to the initiation of complete digitisation, especially in government-run schools.

THE NEED FOR DIGITAL EQUIPMENT

Providing digital equipment is considered paramount in determining a digital school. Computers, television screens of a minimum size of 32 inches, LCD projectors, Android computer stick, screen-mirroring dongles, tablets and teachers’ phones remain some of the prerequisites for promoting digitisation. The list of specified equipment is quite vast, it does not allow for consistency in the equipment required across digital schools. For instance, even if one classroom has any of the specified equipment, it is often considered sufficient for the entire school to be termed as digital. This should not be the case if holistic learning of students remains the aim for promoting digitisation. Further, the number of students who will use each digital equipment is also not taken into consideration. 

TECH-SAVVY TEACHERS ARE A PREREQUISITE

Essentially, tech-savvy teachers are considered a key prerequisite for the digital preparedness of schools, indicating that regular training of educators is necessary for digital schools. There is a further need for clarity on what is expected from teachers when it comes to tech-savviness. The government-run training should be aimed at cogent and systemic capacity-building frameworks. Often there are issues of connectivity while participating in online activities during a training camp. At the same time, there have been instances where self-motivated teachers have gone ahead and built their digital skillsets without any formal training.

CREATION OF QUALITY DIGITAL CONTENT

Ideally, teachers need to be discerning in effectively using e-resources for classroom interactions. Take, for instance, e-resources for teaching mathematical fractions in primary classes, teachers shouldn’t assume that merely watching videos of fractions being taught will enhance their understanding. That they also need real-time and prompt feedback on queries while watching the videos, which also needs to be looked into. While various audio-visual contents are available, there is a need for more, which are intended to align with the textbook content. On the other hand, educators or teachers could be encouraged to use various government-approved apps to proactively create and upload content on these apps for the benefit of the education fraternity at large.

While these challenges still reflect the ground reality of dissemination of digital education in schools in far-flung areas of India, the government can look towards harnessing the considerable experience of PPP entities and NGOs in school education, while seeking an arrangement for collaborative engagement. The participation of the private sector and NGOs in managing and operating schools will be an enabler in providing a modern and high-quality framework for education and boost the sector to engage with many more projects under the PPP model.  

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WHAT OPTIONS DO ASPIRANTS HAVE?

As dynamic as the media industry can be, it is now time for students and professionals to up their game to avail new opportunities in the new-age world.

VIVECK VASWANI

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The Covid pandemic pushed almost all industries in India to digitise, creating a new way of working online. In the longer term, the internet will create processes that far outlive the pandemic because of the three Es: Economics, Efficiency, and Effectiveness. This is especially true with the media which has adapted to thrive during the pandemic in a way that the paradigm shift is permanent.

Newspapers, magazines and tabloids went online to deliver news, most TV channels released ‘apps’, becoming not only time agnostic but also on-the-go. The explosion of Internet users in the country has been pivotal in bringing about this change. How does this impact jobs in the media industry when the concept of fixed time and place, and screen consumption is being replaced with any time and anywhere?

The media, as we know it today, is all-encompassing. It collectively includes over 100 separate, diverse, unique and distinct industries. As digitisation ramps up in these industries, technologically and digitally literate people will lead the change. Industries that can run and thrive when people work from home will prosper, while those where people cannot work from home will take a hit.

WHAT WILL BE IN DEMAND IN THE MEDIA INDUSTRY?

In the current and future scenario, these professions will shape the outcome of the media industry: 

 Digital Marketing 

Most companies have moved their advertising, publicity and marketing strategies online. A digital marketer can use technology, work from home and still be immensely productive. India is one of the fastest-growing economies and with online opportunities on the rise, everything is just a click away – whether it is food, fashion, groceries, movies or music. The digital universe has unlocked employment offers in direct proportion to this humongous and still growing demand. 

 Content Writing and Creation/Social Media Influencer

These opportunities can be conducted from home as well as remote locations. Content writing for films, ads, TV shows, books, articles, blogs, documentaries, short films, corporate and industrial films, OTT platforms, digital magazines or blogs will take off. The more we consume digital content, the more in-demand content writers will be. The same is the case for the creation of content using photos, short videos, and interviews conducted online because of the sheer size of content consumption on social media platforms. Users with a certain number of followers on social media are paid to influence their followers and are in great demand to sell various products and services. 

 Radio Professionals and Voice Artistes 

With the growing demand for nonstop content and because shooting content on site has become a challenge, radio has moved up the list. Radio Jockeys are thriving, talking nonstop from home on their FM channels or through podcasts. Podcasters are setting up their infrastructure to broadcast from home, building loyal audiences and fan followings translating into sizable revenue. 

These are already some of the most sought after careers, and online will further propagate their reach and demand. 

UPCOMING CHALLENGES FOR THE INDUSTRY

With a boom in the uptake of digital services, let us not forget that there will also be challenges. Companies now look at people they hire differently. Organisations struggling to change the way they operate are aggressively looking at getting a piece of the digital pie from their competitors. In addition, being a media entrepreneur has its own challenges – building a business, connecting with leads, sustaining income, on-time payments etc. – to succeed. There is a good chance that the upcoming digital world will not adhere to only two languages: English and Hindi. This will instill a need for language diversity and even digital coding from kids and teenagers. As dynamic as the media industry can be, it is now time for students and professionals to up their game to avail new opportunities in the new-age world. This is a time of great challenges and great opportunities.

The writer is Dean, School Of Contemporary Media, Pearl Academy.

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‘Role Of New Age Global Universities’: Dr. Y.S.R Murthy, Vice-Chancellor, RV University

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Dr. Y.S.R Murthy, Vice-Chancellor, RV University joined NewsX for an insightful session on ‘Role Of New Age Global Universities’. In the exclusive conversation, he spoke to us about the inception of RV University, various amenities on the campus, what makes RV University different from others and much more. Read excerpts:

Q1. Who established the RV University and what is the background?

A: The Rashtreeya Sikshana Samithi trust is sponsoring body that has established the RV University. This public charitable trust has a rich legacy of 8 decades in the field of education. In the year 1940 pre-dating independence, we started with one school for six children in a modest way. Today, there are over 20 colleges for Technology, Management, Architecture, Law, physiotherapy, Nursing, etc. and we felt the need to establish a university for promoting a liberal education. RV University has been established under the RV University Act 2019, passed by the Karnataka legislature.

Q2. You are the Founding Vice-Chancellor. Please tell us more about your own academic journey. 

A: I hold a Master’s degree in statistics from the University of Madras, where I stood university first and I also have a Master’s degree in Human rights from the University of London as a British achieving scholar and a Ph.D. in Law from the Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai. As regards my professional life I am a civil servant turned academic and have over 36 years of experience in the government, Academia, and NGO sector. I joined the government of India in 1985 and held many responsible and sensitive assignments including in the National human right commission, Prime minister’s office, President’s secretariat, and cabinet secretariat between 2009 and 2020. I have steered the OP Jindal Global University during its rapid expansion face as a part of its top leadership aim, including as a registrar. I have contributed to its race in international rankings and becoming an institution of imminence. I have assumed charge as the first Vice-chancellor of RV University, Bangalore recently.

Q3. What is the vision of RV University?

A: RV University aspires to be a world-class university known for academic excellence, research, international collaborations, diversity, interdisciplinary studies, sustainability, social commitment, and community engagement. In addition, RV University which has to be a responsible ethical, and collaborative partner to local industry, Government, and other organizations, in short, a technology-driven global university committed to liberal education.

Q4. How does RV University plan to translate this vision into a reality?

A: The RV University has prepared a 5-year strategic plan, which includes a detailed academic plan, research plan, infrastructure plan, Manpower plan, finance plan and other plans. It has recruited outstanding faculties members, who are leaders in their chosen fields. It has built a rich curriculum in close consultation with industry partners and other external stakeholders. It has forged substantive collaboration both in India and abroad with key partners. 

Q5. What programmes are currently offered at RV University? 

A: We have started with 3 schools in the current year dealing with liberal arts and sciences, design. There is a school for economic and finance in each of these schools we have programs ranging from undergraduate to post-graduate and Ph.D.’s both full time and part-time. The school of liberal arts and sciences offers a three-year BA Honors program and also three years BS.C honors degree. In addition, it also offers a unique four-year BS.C honors program in defical sciences. The school of design offers a four-year Bachelors of design or Under two year Master of design. under the school of Economics and finance, there is a BA honors in economics as well as MA economics, in addition to B.com and BBA honors.

Q6. Are the courses of RV University recognised by the regulatory agencies?

A: Yes, of course, we have been constituted under the RV university act 2019 passed by the Karnataka Legislature. In-fact the Karnataka government has issued a gazette notification specifying 16th June 2021 as the start date for the coming into force of the RV university act. We are also recognised by the university grants commission under sec 2F of the UGC act. Thus or regulatory approvals are in place.

Q7. When will the courses start in the RV University? What is the academic plan? 

A: We are ready to commence academic degree programs in all respects. Initially, we planned to start in the month of September but because of the Covid situation and advisories from the regulated agencies, we will start on 1st October 2021.

Q8.  How is RV University different from other Universities? 

A: Our degree programs have a sharp India focus, regardless of weather new education policy has been implemented or not. RV university has already implemented inter-disciplinary in its true sense. We have no cilos what-so-ever in our university that a lot of synergy, different schools, and program. We will open our facilities to students from other institutions in India and abroad to come and earn credits here, which can be eventually transferred to their parent institutions.

Q9. What kind of learning opportunities are available to the students of RV University? 

A: RV university has already forged a number of substantive collaborations with top institutions in India and abroad. These include among others, the University of Essex (United Kingdom), which ranks among the top three in fifty as per the Times Higher education world University ranking. We  have signed the MOU with CNA College, New York, which is a liberal arts college. We also signed an MOU with the University of Sofia, Bulgaria and we are collaborating with the University of Narowal and in addition to this many other collaborations which are currently on in the UK, USA, Australia, and other parts of the world. Even much before the start and commencement of the degree programs, they opened a range of learning opportunity for our students. It could be a collaboration in the Ph.D.’s research program or semester abroad program at undergraduate or postgraduate level or a dual degree program and many other ways there are a range of learning opportunities for our students. 

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WHY EXECUTIVE EDUCATION IS SO IMPORTANT FOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT AND CAREER GROWTH

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A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) concluded that more than 50% of the Indian professionals will have to upskill themselves to match the changing dynamics of the industry. The major areas of progress include technical skills such as Big Data Analytics (BDA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), along with qualitative skills such as problem assessment, negotiations, and business communications.

Professionals, who demonstrate proven expertise in emerging technologies, while keeping up with the rapid evolutions in the field, are in growing demand. In such an environment, organisations are motivating their employees to re-skill themselves constantly so that their existing knowledge base does not become redundant. While freshers with management education enter the job market possessing updated managerial skills, it is becoming essential for the existing employees to bridge their knowledge-gap to compete with them and advance their careers.

WHAT IS AN EXECUTIVE EDUCATION PROGRAMME?

Top management schools in India and abroad have recognised the gap in the demands of the industry and the existing workforce. Therefore, they are curating short, but intensive courses that are aimed at helping working professionals to upskill themselves. These courses concern a diverse range of topics ranging from leadership programmes, negotiations, emerging technologies, strategising practices, among others. The rationale behind all these programmes is to enrich the existing skill sets of the working professionals and prepare them for the evolving market scenarios.

It is to be noted here that these executive programmes are distinct from regular management degree courses. They are professional development courses that usually conclude with a certification or a diploma on completion. The focus of the executive education programme is around case-solving and building on the core skills with practical industry scenarios.

WHY PROFESSIONALS SHOULD PURSUE THIS

Changing business scenarios, the world over demands a range of advanced skill sets for business professionals to stay ahead in the curve of competition. The impact of an executive education is not only to upgrade one’s resume but also ensure upgrading of core business skills that a professional must acquire.

A certification in a niche functional area with advanced knowledge garners the attention of top recruiters from reputed organisations. Furthermore, it strengthens the position of the individual in her/his existing organisation and also entitles her/him to promising opportunities for securing a more advanced role in the organisation. Additionally, an executive education broadens the perspectives of an individual and enhances her/his business vision. While pursuing these courses, professionals with diverse corporate experiences get to interact with others. This helps in gaining deeper insights about myriad domains in the market and exploring possibilities of growth in them. Collaborative projects and assignments constitute a significant part of such courses that serve as great team building and communication exercises.

Compared to full-time management programmes, an executive MBA programme does not require a professional to take a break in her/his career. These courses are designed as per the convenience of working professionals so that they can establish a convenient balance between their work and education. This also helps a working professional to apply the concepts she/he learns in the classrooms to practical real-life scenarios enabling her/him to receive prompt feedback about the usage of their upgraded skills, which facilitates deeper learning.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused severe disruptions in the business ecosystem. The market has faced dire consequences of such an unforeseen challenge. The rates of layoffs and company shutdowns have spiked up. While business experts and analysts continue to assess the consequences of these transitions, working professionals must upgrade themselves to stay relevant in a potentially difficult job market.

Pursuing an executive MBA programme is meant to equip working managers with the knowledge and advanced skills-set which will prepare them to survive through the toughest challenges they are likely to encounter in the post-pandemic era.

The writer is Dean (Academics) at FORE School of Management, New Delhi.

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Who is a good teacher?

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Education is a fundamental aspect in the development of any society. If the youth of a society is educated, it increases the chances of having a better tomorrow. Teachers provide that education which improves the quality of life and contributes to the shaping of both the individual and the society as a whole.

Teachers increase the productivity and creativity of students and, therefore, of future workers. When students are pushed to be creative and productive, they are more likely to be entrepreneurial and innovative, ultimately leading to the economic development of a country.

Children spend the maximum amount of time growing up with their teachers. History has shown us how good teachers have the wonderful ability to shape the leaders of the future. Good teachers can build positive and inspired societies, act as role models and push their students to try harder and live up to their true potential. Most of us has looked back on our formative years at one point and wondered, “What if that particular teacher had given up on me?”

Teachers thus give entire generations a purpose and set them off on the path to progress. All of us agree that teachers are important. We even celebrate Teachers’ Day in India. Yet, teaching is not seen as a desirable career or a passion!

“The B.Ed. has become a degree for marriage, not teaching,” the NCTE chairperson said to a leading daily in 2019. In such a situation, one must ask, are qualified teachers really ‘quality’ teachers? Are hiring and compensation policies that reward certain qualifications the equivalent of investing in enhancing the quality of teachers?

Many “qualified” teachers have the right degrees, yet lack in-depth knowledge of the subject they are supposedly proficient in. And a PhD should not mean that they stop learning about their subject as it develops over the years. For higher education and upper levels, teachers with mere bookish knowledge, who cannot apply that knowledge in real life, can be detrimental to students’ understanding of that subject. Hence, there is a need for them to be active participants in the dialogue and collaboration between academia and industry.

Good teachers are competent, proficient in the subject (or language) they teach, and hone the potential of their students. Teaching is a tough job, but it is one where you can make the most impact in another person’s life. Even though academic or professional excellence can be measured, the success of a teacher is more difficult to assess. Hopefully with the new NEP, India will get its act right in regulating quality education and educators and grow beyond the perfunctory tick-marks for “teacher’s qualification”.

QUALITIES OF A GOOD TEACHER

Like any other profession, teaching is highly demanding. It requires a high level of competence and a significant emotional quotient. Most successful teaching professionals have some common traits.

• Clear goals

Teachers, like any other industry professionals, need to have a plan for their consumers (in their case, students). With that as a guiding light, they need to have clear objectives and their teaching methodology should vary according to the students they deal with.

• A “don’t give up” attitude

Teachers with long-term objectives and a mission to prepare their students to face the world don’t give up easily. They understand that obstacles and setbacks are part of their job and navigate those challenges with determination.

• Faith in their students

Students need someone to believe in them. They need a wiser and older person to trust them and their efforts, set the bar high but create an environment where it is absolutely fine to fail.

• Consistency 

Consistency is not to be confused with a “stuck-up” attitude. It means that a teacher does what they say they will, doesn’t change their rules based on their mood, and their students can rely on them when in need of guidance. Teachers who are stuck in outdated methods may boast of ‘consistency’, when in fact it is merely stubbornness.

WHAT THE WORLD SEEKS

The parents of this generation need to understand and accept the fact that teachers are not surrogate parents. Teachers groom subsequent generations, but don’t do ‘parenting’ on their behalf during school hours.

The world today needs knowledgeable teachers, but also individuals with a hunger to continuously learn, unlearn and relearn. Teachers today need to be inquisitive in order to teach the same subject every year but with better techniques and fresher material.

The teacher of this generation needs to be able to shift gears and be flexible when a lesson or teaching style isn’t working. For this, they also need to shed their biases and learn from their students, even as they teach them. They need to be better today than what they were yesterday. Merely presenting facts from Google is not teaching. All students today are digital natives and can do that job better.

Teachers have a larger responsibility to lead by example and demonstrate the values and behaviours they teach. For this, they must also practise humility when dealing with colleagues and learn constantly from every interaction with them. Along with this, they must rise above petty politicking and insecurities and believe in merit-based growth, where individuals are judged and rewarded on the basis of their performance and the value they add to the institution they are part of.

Let us accept that education is also a consumer service industry where teachers are also accountable for their performance and the results. The big question now is: do we have such good teachers?

The author is an independent markets commentator. The opinions expressed are personal.

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