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Every student not meant to become an engineer: Dr Manpreet Singh Manna

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“We don’t want to make every student an engineer with standard curriculum. We want good farmers, politicians, social worker as well. When students start pursuing higher education, they come with a mindset that my father said to choose the branch that’s why I opted for it,” said Dr Manpreet Singh Manna, Former Director, AICTE, MHRD, Govt. of India & Member, World committee for SDG4 United Nations Organisation.

Dr Manna shared his thoughts at 11th School Leadership Summit, Chandigarh in March 2019. He also inaugurated the summit in the presence of other eminent dignitaries.

“There are 75 types of engineering happening in the country in 35,000 institutes but we only talk about Computer Science. This is the catch. School education has to be revamped as per the present scenario. It has to be more value-centric,” Dr Manna added.

Further elaborating his vision, Dr Manna said, “In the last 5 to 15 years, a large number of crimes were committed by the juveniles on the juveniles. Is this what we are teaching in schools or parents are teaching their wards? The answer is NO, but it means we are lacking somewhere while imparting education. We have to find that. We cannot wait for CBSE or Punjab Education Board to come up with a syllabus. We have to think on it”.

Dr Manna also talked about the gap between earlier generation and today’s generation. He said, “Today, if you ask an eight year child about the features of the smartphone, he will say – “10 mins khelne ko do abhi btata hoom” (allow me to play for 10 mins and I will tell you). He will tell you all the features that even you don’t know as the user of the smart-phone. So this is the gap I am talking about.”

“When we were in class 12 we were doing what the teacher was asking us to do. Spoon feeding – the concept was very clear – jo padhaya hai wahi exam me aayega (Whatever has been taught to you will come in the exam). Then after going to the college, we realise the meaning of education, learning and other worldly things – social learning I should say. Today, students are becoming mature even before going to the higher education, in social life, human life and external life,” Dr Manna further stated.

Dr Manna, during his speech, also highlighted why skill development should be an integral part of today’s school education system. According to him, “Today school children are well aware and well connected through the media and internet. He/She should be fetched with the right education at the right time. If we are not imparting skills at schooling level we are not going to get innovations at the engineering level. We are talking a lot about innovation. And for Skills, we have even formed a ministry but haven’t reached the starting point from where skills should begin. Skills have to start from school.”

Expressing his opinions on making the schools and colleges autonomous, Dr Manna said, “Today we say, go to UGC and make this college autonomous so that we ourselves can decide the syllabus for the college, regulate the fees and try to  teach the latest curriculum to the students with an industry connect .  The fact of matter is if a student is not connected to his own life, his parents how will he connect with the industry. Unless schools will become autonomous, there will be no use of autonomous in colleges. Every school is supposed to have the autonomy to design the curriculum as per their local area demand and gap”.

Highlighting the Parent’s role in education of a child, Dr Manna said, “Parents do everything for their ward. So if they don’t get proper education, parents regret the most for it. A bureaucrat also sends his ward to private school? Why? For the complete educational package! They are ready to pay extra to get the facility which is not available in Government schools”.

He also underlined that “Parents Education Centres” are the need of the hour. In a country like India, we have 800 plus Universities and 43,000 institutions but no dedicated body to guide parents about their ward’s education.

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