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Jul 05

Does Indian education system teaches how to collaborate?

Education, along with infrastructure development and democratization of media are the three key sectors on which progression of any society depends. In United states in particular, and the western world in general, the foundations of world leadership were laid when the country channeled massive investments into the educational sector. The result was a robust and innovative educational system that nurtured research and advancement in the society. This robust system consists of individual systems, like Harvard’s and MIT’s, but speaks to a larger,  nationwide framework on which educational policies and innovations are built. In fact, many of the business trace their origins to the innovative university labs.

A similar revolution (although still on a much smaller scale and a slower pace) is in progress in India too. Groups like Indian Institutes of Technologies and Indian school of business have incorporated world class standards and their alumni can be found in executive positions in every industry, all over the world.  India today is the largest exporter of software technology and engineers in the world and much of this success is owned to the stress of information and communication technologies in the Indian educational curriculum. These, however, reflect only a small number of advancements.

As the world changes and moves at a rapid pace, particularly the global business environment,  people are rethinking the way they run their companies by reforming corporate strategies and realigning their values – many times from a competitive approach to a collaborative one. This process of  making decisions is becoming more prominent and involving employees operating at all levels.

I recently came across plethora of  initiatives that reflect these ideas at the academic level, like the joint venture, edX, between Harvard university and MIT. Others like Dweeber and ePals are innovative start ups that advocate for collaboration. Then there are large, established innovative corporations like HCL Technologies which are rethinking management.  Disruption, is the keyword here, whether its at the academic, business or at an individual level. And this has major implications for (and dependence on) our educational system.

Is the Indian educational system operating in a way that prepares its citizens to become contributors to these world changing initiatives?  Is our educational system inclusive? Does it encourage students in all ways to become responsible global citizens? Is the education system keeping up with the changes in the global business environment? Can “disruption” in the the way education is imparted in our schools and colleges make the world a better place to live and work? Being a fairly pragmatic person, my answer to all these questions , except the last, is “no”. Being an eternal optimist, my answer to the last question is “yes”.

To bring about change, I believe we need to:

Encourage collaboration in everyday classes:

Most schools prepare students for a “dog eat a dog” world. School systems need to imbibe a collaborative mindset in these growing minds. Not only will it make them better professionals and team players, it will inculcate a responsibility towards the society. “Growing by learning and sharing together” is a much better proposition, both at an individual level and at a global community level.

A mandatory participation in an open source project:

Benefits of participation in an open source project are collateral in nature.  This kind of initiative will not only open opportunities for students to network with other students with similar interests and subject based inclinations, it will add immense value to their resumes. Students will learn how to connect to each other, work together on small projects with diverse set of people and help them form a better understanding of and appreciation for a “collaborative world”.

I will share more of my thoughts on how a revolutionized educational system can revolutionize the world in general and the business in particular in my next article.

This article of mine was published here at opensource.com