Given the huge demographic bonanza India is currently blessed with today and for another at least 2 decades to continue, it is imperative that today’s youth, the tomorrow’s leaders, have to be properly directed and guided. We have the world’s largest young population. As per the 2011 census almost 41% of our population is below the age of 19. And that is a staggering 500 million! That is the population of the European Union or 1.5 time the population of the United States of America. We are currently the third largest economy by Purchasing Power Parity and expected to become the world’s 2nd largest by PPP by 2030 a USD 46 Trillion economy (Source Oxford Economics, Brookings).
And yet we are 130th out of 189 countries in the Human Development Index. Vihaan is an initiative which seeks to start a conversation on this crucial issue. Vihaan in Sanskrit means dawn and signifies awakening. SIP Academy brought together the key stakeholders, viz., School Principals, College Deans, Corporate Leaders and Entrepreneurs in 4 separate panel discussions each addressing a specific requirement, in a one day event held on 24th January in Chennai. The topics for panel discussions were namely, skills relevant for work which can be developed in Schools as seen by top Corporates, skills relevant for higher Education that can be developed in Schools as seen by College and university deans, skills relevant for Entrepreneurs that can be encouraged in schools as seen by successful entrepreneurs who were not that successful academically.
Keynote Speaker, Arnab Bhattacharya, Scientist TIFR & Founder of ‘Chai & Why’, said that all kids are researchers; however, the current education system roots out creativity by not allowing them to ask questions, experiment and discover things for themselves. We need to develop a scientific temper in children by giving them to give ample opportunities to explore and learn for themselves. Narendra Murkumbi, Founder – Sri Renuka Sugars Limited (World’s 2nd largest Sugar Producer), representing Corporate World of India, pointed out that other than basic communication & mathematic skills, schools should focus on inculcating problem solving skills, adaptability, decision making and team spirit which help in preparing students for a successful corporate life while Sandeep Bhushan, Director & Head of India GMS – Facebook, the other Panelist added that the top corporates look at core skills such as language, mathematics, computing, as also basic rigour, sociability and most important understanding and applying their domain knowledge.
Rev. Dr. F. Andrew, S.J. Principal – Loyola College, Chennai, representing Colleges & Universities of India, sought for identification of students’ potential and channelizing them effectively. Train them to have healthy relationships, avoid instant gratification and teach them to accept failure & develop their problem coping mechanism. Dr. C. Muthamizhchelvan, Director, Engineering & Technology, SRM Institute of Science & Technology suggested that the Schools should help students in their goal setting and nurture skills such as creativity, critical thinking, social consciousness and adaptability. Students should be given an opportunity to develop team spirit and empathy.C K Kumaravel, Founder, Naturals Salon, India’s leading chain of salons, representing first generation entrepreneurs advocated that the ability to learn, unlearn & re-learn are skills that children need to develop in the modern times. M.V. Subramanian , Co-Founder & MD of Future Focus Infotech P Ltd., added that the quality of managing resources to fulfil an ambition , needs to be taught in schools . The schools need to encourage the Parents & Alumni , who are entrepreneurs to interact with the students.
Prof Dr Sridhar Srivastava, Dean (Coordination) NCERT, New Delhi, representing top ranked Schools of India, highlighted that knowledge has to be constructed in the classroom and that Schools are to give students ample opportunities to question, debate and clarify. The other panellist, Mr.Skand Bali, Principal of Hyderabad Public School, Hyderabad, said that schools should focus on 4Cs – Character, Compassion, Critical thinking & Creativity. Schools should treat every child as an individual and help her/him excel in their area of interest, instead of pushing them towards traditional career choices such as Engineering, Medicine, etc. In 2016, SIP Academy India went International and now the programme runs in 8 countries across the world. Every week over 150000 students are touched by a SIP Academy Programme in India. Log in to https://www.sipacademyindia.com/ for more details.