How Indian Educational Institutions can improve in global rankings – Part 2 of 2

In Part 1 published earlier, we talked about International and National Rankings of Educational Institutions and how these rankings could help Students in choosing the roadmap for their academic career. We also gathered how limited the representation is of Indian Institutions when it comes to Global ranking.  Based on the parameters used by the Surveys for purposes of ranking, we summed up at least 3 benchmarks that educational institutions in India could focus on to improve rankings and they are:

  • Internationalization
  • Graduate employability
  • Quality of Relevant Research

That said, Students also play an equally important role in complementing efforts of Government and Educational institutions in elevating Indian Education system in the International Arena. Let us have a look at the three criteria in a bit more detail in this Part 2.

Internationalization

What makes this an important parameter?

  • It provides necessary certification to students to pursue academic courses internationally for advanced studies.
  • Besides, from a country perspective, it opens up doors for international students and provides a diverse and cross culture environment for Indian students, thereby widening perspective and outlook.

Some of the focus areas to achieve this recognition and trust are –

  • Through the medium of globally conforming Syllabus.
  • To build trust and recognition through Excellence in education to match global standards.
  • Sync with International assessment practices.
  • Participate in Global Exchange programs.
  • Inclusion of foreign languages in curriculum.
  • Getting accredited by International bodies.

Graduate Employability:

Employability is the single most benefit that most students seek from education and so this is an important benchmark   that determines student preparedness for jobs once they graduate. As per a survey, only 4 pc of work force in India are skilled while the percentage is much higher in other countries and so improving this percentage is a daunting task. It involves a major shift in attitudes in the different players in the education ecosystem and the pedagogical approach also needs revisiting. Training of trainers, revamping of syllabus besides financial outlay  are some of the several challenges specially since many of the  educational institutions have embroiled themselves in the traditional non vocational system for several decades now .

Nevertheless, it is not impossible to make this a reality. We should consider some of the following aspects here.

  • Opportunity to work during studies makes students more competitive in job market after education.
  • Industry academia interface and Campus placements is another aspect of ecosystem that helps to prepare students for better employability.
  • Focus on projects and case studies gives them an opportunity to engage with employment process early.
  • Flexibility to choose academic courses aligned with skill sets and interest of students.
  • Course curriculum designed to provide graduate employability and career counseling programs early in academics.

 Quality of Relevant Research:

This is key parameter used by Surveys and aimed to assess Impact of Research on Industry and Community in general. Factors to be kept in mind to elevate the ranking in these Criteria could include the following.

  • Research should not just be high quality but should also be relevant in order that the target community can relate to and appreciate the use of research.
  • Industry Academia partnerships can help teaching methodologies and Research topics to be oriented towards industry requirements and community in general.
  • Creating environment where students can experiment with technology through audio visual tutorials and improve quality of research outputs and stretch the limits of research.
  • Opportunity to conduct research jointly by researchers across globe and coauthored research findings could significantly improve value of research findings.
  • Students also need an affordable socio-economic ecosystem where they can access lab facility, Industry interface and high level faculty needed to purse  quality research.

On a closing note,  it  is worthwhile to note that as part of the thrust to the education sector, Government of India has come out with several initiatives in this regard and the ones very relevant to the criteria we discussed are –

  • An initiative called Global Research Interaction Network (GRIN)aimed at encouraging research collaborations between the IITs and global institutes.
  • Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) which is focused on global exchange of content by inviting foreign faculty members to teach at Indian institutions.
  • The National Skill development mission launched by PM Narendra modi is aimed towards Skilling 400 million people by 2022 through 15 Skill Development Schemes announced as part of the mission to make India the Skill capital of the world.

So, with a concerted awareness and teamwork from all players in Education ecosystem, Indian Education system can sure elevate  internationally in the coming years and pride itself in the Top 200 rankings of Global surveys.

Written by Asha Sampath

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How the Educational Ecosystem can help Stress Management of today’s Millenials

Stress can be a positive and enjoyable factor  if it challenges  students’  limits and stimulates them to do better . On the other hand,  excessive stress beyond a point , can be a highly detrimental factor if it reaches a point of pressure and conflict due to several factors  physical, mental and social. But, how do we identify this optimum point and what role does the Educational ecosystem play in helping the millennials cope with  stress during the formative years of their lives as a student.

The external environment is such a highly competitive landscape today that it sometimes deprives even the Generation Y of a carefree and enjoyable journey towards adulthood. Inevitably, even as they enter this world , the peer competition spirit sets in consciously or unconsciously. And in the growing years, schooling in particular can be a stressful phase , being saddled with an avalanche of pressure from  examinations,voluminous reading , extensive homework, complexity of curriculum,choice of academic direction and career exploration . Interpersonal relations ,ragging and in some cases socio-economic factors only make things worse . Stress could also result from unreasonable expectations from parents , inadequate coping skills on the part of students and difficulty to come to terms with realityStress is a top health concern not just in India but globally.

Stress is a  state of mind resulting from perception of the environment and  the way one reacts to it . It is not something that can be completely eliminated nor should anyone attempt doing that  because One, it is inevitable and two, a certain level of stress is in fact necessary to ensure that the full potential is unleashed and leveraged . The  challenge then is not to avoid stress but to help students manage it in a way that they are in control of  their lives,their priorities and the focus on their  goals . When this is not managed well, stress can lead to very negative implications such as

  • Early burnout in their lives
  • Depriving them the space to think creatively about choice of their field
  • Loss of self confidence
  • Low self esteem,coupled with self degradation .
  • In extreme cases It is not unusual to see these factors leading to psychosomatic and psychophysiological problems resulting in depression and its grave consequences .

However, educational institutions and parents can play a key role in helping Students cope with stress and come out with flying colors as they reach adulthood. Schools and Colleges  are not merely educational buildings but they are more like a home where students spend considerable time in their lives , building dreams , creating   friendships and evolving holistic personalities for themselves that last for a life time .  Mere education does not make a person successful in life. The need of the hour is far beyond.

But how can this be achieved ?

  • Educational institutions have a multiplicity of roles to perform – as  mentor ,friend and a role model who can influence students significantly outside of the formal curriculum, and help them stay on track during the trans-formative age when they are susceptible to  negative influences.
  • Life skill straining in the Curriculum can make them better prepared citizens with self confidence and tolerance  to sail through complex situations smoothly and bridge gap between complex environment and the dynamism.
  • Build an ecosystem  that  provides students an opportunity to have a balanced curriculum which includes statusquo challenging sessions that encourages them to question, analyse and build creative capabilities in their thinking.
  • Provide  career counselling platforms whereby  the counsellors can connect and relate well to the students, their thoughts, feelings and ambitions and help them pick  the right academic course.  Parents should let go what the neighbour’s or relation’s or friends’ kids are doing but focus on what is logically correct for their child.
  • Make the educational ecosystem an inclusive onewhereby the student begins to identify himself as part of a society and use educational platforms to be a better citizen rather than just enrich academic knowledge. For example in most western schools it is mandatory for students to have a Social volunteering activity during vacation and this is non-negotiable in the curriculum .It could be working for an old age home,or an animal care center or a natural calamity struck destination .This helps to  make child’s personality inclusive in society.
  • Help  students to set up a calendar that can help them multitask with homework, sports,arts and some fun time with friends.A certain amount of daily relaxation /recreation is important in everyone’s life  to preserve physical and emotional health .So a disciplined schedule for the day is necessary to be inculcated, no matter how much pressure the teacher is to complete the prescribed syllabi. Extra curricular activities are an important part of education .It could be sports, art forms like music,dance,culinary,gardening painting whereby the creative side to the student is unraveled.
  • Integrate academics with nature so it can unleash artistic potential of the child simultaneously and also bring about a sense of responsibility towards environment in the trans-formative years.

Thus we can see that there is no magic wand to help students manage stress but it will be a combination of several actions that can inculcate a holistic view  of life in the student and make him enjoy the journey more than the goal itself.

What do our Alumni Say?

VIKAS VIDYANIKETAN, VISAKHAPATNAM

A WORLD CLASS TWO DECADES OLD RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL

PIONEERS IN INTEGRATED LEARNING, CBSE + PREPARATION FOR IIT-JEE AND NEET

Legacy institutions stand the test of time and no great institution can be created overnight.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of coaching centres may mushroom in your neighbourhood with the promise of extra-ordinary coaching for IIT-JEE and NEET, but most of them end up either being mediocre or cease to exist sooner than later.  What is unique about Vikas Vidyaniketan is that it is unique!  Vikas is at Vizag/Visakhapatnam. Period.  No branches anywhere, neither in your locality, nor in your city (unless you are based at Vizag) and we don’t intend opening branches for the sake of expansion.  Mindless expansion impacts quality of academic delivery and for Vikas, academics is of prime importance.

While it is a common sight to see coaching centres splash big bang advertisements with photographs of their (hundreds of) top achievers, it is rare for anyone to question, what is the success %?  At Vikas, we boast of a 1:2 success ratio in IIT-JEE Mains which means 1 in every 2 students qualify.  Our batches are limited in size and 50% of the test takers have qualified for further evaluation.  Vikas is more than just another boarding school.  It is a Mini-India that houses students from different parts of the country.  Its world-class food-courts, contracted to Sodexo, offer wholesome, nutritious and hygienic meals to students.  The fully air-conditioned hostels provide all necessary amenities besides provisions for attached indoor and outdoor sports.  An in-house clinic (with attached ambulance) with doctor on call supports students who are sick.  Each state has a dedicated state counsellor who is responsible for the welfare of the students of that state.  This is besides the numerous floor co-ordinators, study-hour supervisors and student welfare officers who are available round the clock to ensure smooth management of the campus.

There are several advantages of studying in a boarding school:

  1. Zero travel time as classes (for both school and test preparation) and hostels are under the same roof
  2. Discipline and punctuality as all activities have pre-defined and earmarked time slots.
  3. Reduction of dependence on parents/guardian as students learn to become more responsible and independent

In a nutshell, Vikas, a fully residential state-of-the-art boarding school, located in India’s 5th cleanest city (also tagged to be a smart city under PM Modi’s smart city project), offers top-notch education besides safe, secure and comfortable living.  Here is what some of our former students have to say:

ALUMNI SPEAK 

12345Falguni, a student of class of 2012 at Vikas, says, “Vikas was fondly referred to as mini India and it really was, given the diversity of student base.  We had batchmates from different parts and cultures of India, all studying under one roof with a single mission”.  Falguni, daughter of Mr.Babul Chandra, Jalpaiguri, scored 95% in CBSE Class XII and is currently studying MBBS at NRS Medical College, Kolkata.

12345Priyanjana Saha, daughter of a serviceman father and advocate mother always cherished becoming a doctor.  Besides scoring 92% in CBSE Class XII at Vikas, Priyanjana also ranked 32 in the KPC Medical College Entrance test.  She says, “The whole credit for what I am today goes to my parents and teachers.  Sudha madam is like a 2nd mother and Dr.Venkat sir is like a 2nd father to me.  I miss a lot and remain grateful to Vikas for what I am today” 

12345Subhoday hails from Jalpaiguri and studied at Jermel’s Academy before moving to Vikas to pursue his 10+2.  He cracked the KIITEE, SRMJEE, WBJEE, COMEDK and finally settled for Electrical & Electronics Engineering at KIIT University, Odisha.  He goes on to say, “To me, Vikas was a wonderful place to learn to be independent in life.  The teaching staff was extremely supportive and the level of strictness helped us focus on studies”

12345Jyotirmoy, son of Mr.Akhil Chandra Barman who serves the Public Works Department of the Govt of West Bengal, passed out of Vikas in 2016.  He is known to be an extremely meritorious boy and results confirm the same.  He voted for NIT Allahabad over the newer IITs and chose to study computer science.  He recollects his days at Vikas, especially his interactions with Prof Eswaran, HOD Mathematics and CEO of Vikas Vidyaniketan.

Written by Sid Baliga

The National Level Talent Search Examination (NLTSE) 2016

The smell of legacy continues to linger at Vikas Vidyaniketan which kickstarts its admissions process, to class XI, for the academic year 2017-18 through the prestigious National Level Talent Search Examination (NLTSE).  This is the time of the year when candidates, currently in class X, take up the 60-minute test to gain admission to the integrated programs offered at the twin boarding campuses of Vikas at Visakhapatnam.

The examination assesses the candidate’s knowledge in Science, Mathematics and English and is aligned to the syllabi prescribed for classes IX and X of the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE).  It is a paper and pen based test and is organised at select schools in various states in the country.  To know whether a particular school is participating in the NLTSE or not, one may reach out to the admissions cell of Vikas.

Top performers in the NLTSE are awarded generous scholarships in the form of cash awards (for zonal toppers etc) or substantial tuition waivers that enable students to study for class XI+JEE/NEET Coaching at Vikas at a subsidised cost.

Vikas Vidyaniketan also admits students directly basis performance in the class X board examination.  Special scholarship/fee-waivers are offered to qualifiers in the Olympiad, Government of India’s NTSE etc.  Vikas has been in existence for over 2 decades and has prominent alumni who have gone on to study at prestigious institutions such as IIT/IIM/BITS etc and many of them are currently working in prominent blue-chip organizations.

 

Life Skills for the aspiring doctors and IITians at Vikas Girls Campus, Vizag

Addressing students is something I am passionate about-perhaps the inherent teacher in me makes its appearance! On a serious note, it gives me an opportunity to share real life experiences-some of my own and many from those of noted personalities. Experience sharing help people from falling into these common traps.  No doubt, all successful people go through their own unique cycles of setbacks, but a few thumb rules can always be handy.

Attitude plays the most important role in the game of life.  While each person is shaped by the environment and education that he grows with, a positive attitude creates a fertile mind for new ideas.  Most students were shy to admit that they day-dream, but day-dreaming is extremely productive as it helps visualise success and you become what you feel.  Ideas shape up into new innovations and the entire process from the dream stage to the actual finished product in the real world shapes the dreamer’s personality.  While preparing for the IIT-JEE is gruesome, 2-3 years of hard work does strengthen fundamentals and does more good than harm even if one does not eventually make it to the IITs.  The eternal optimist looks at the key learning in contrast to the pessimist who would relate non-selected candidates in JEE to failures.

12345

“All those who have attained great heights have not attained them in a single flight; they, while their friends slept, toiled upward in the night”

Behind every successful man/woman, there are years of hard work.  It is a common misconception that successful people are plain lucky while others are not.  Luck does play an important role in success but that luck is again circumstantial and fighting hard can make you lucky too.  “Stay long to get lucky” is a common pithy.  Success is relative, subjective and time-centric.  I consider my day successful and well spent as Dr.Venkat, Principal, found me worthy of delivering a talk here.  The general  (not necessarily correct) definition of success is to correlate the person with the amount of money he has made.

Most people give up when they are close to the finish line and perseverance & hunger are two qualities that define winning traits.  Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win.  Procrastination is fatal and most people who procrastinate are eternal losers who don’t realise that time is a limited commodity.

Education in its broadest form shapes up citizens of tomorrow.  Value based learning is as critical as academic education because value learning imbibes judgmental capabilities that are missing in pure academic learning.  The highly ambitious girls of Vikas found the six rules of success useful and liked the idea of self-branding from a young age.

Written by Sid Baliga