Are we raising global citizens?

Vinaya Patil
Friday, 13 October 2017

Dr Yogesh Velankar, learning and development professional, talks about the loopholes in our education system and the need to look at the bigger picture while shaping our children’s future

Young parents are one of the most stressed lot these days. Apart from the usual work-life balance, the anxiety about their children’s education and future is making lives extra stressful for them. Deciding on the right school and right board, and the right kind of parenting is becoming increasingly challenging for them. To lessen their stress, Dr Yogesh Velankar, a learning and development professional, has this piece of advice: “We, as parents and as a system, need to adopt what works better for the children so as to make them better global citizens and future leaders.” Velankar was one of the speakers at an education conference recently held in the city.

What works?
Velankar, who earned his PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University, USA, also holds an MS in Electrical Engineering and MEd in Mathematics Education as an Instructional Specialist, both from the University of Texas at El Paso, USA. Mathematics, a subject that often spreads fear among students, has been Velankar’s niche. “Teachers must adopt scientific practices in educating young minds. In India, our education system works by the hit or miss approach. While that is how we learn, the system of learning need not necessarily be based on those lines,” he says. We must learn from the past, and continuously adopt the techniques that have worked, he believes.

Currently, a senior project advisor in the Teaching Learning Centre at Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Velankar says that our teachers from kindergarten to Class XII must be enabled with the tools and techniques necessary for imparting quality education. “The need of the hour is to connect the dots and bring all stakeholders together when it comes to the education system in India. From teachers to students, academia, institutions, and researchers, everyone needs to come together and be on the same page, for a strong and smart education system,” he insists.

Speaking of the several boards existing in India, Velankar believes that the board you choose for your child shouldn’t matter as long as s/he is well equipped in terms of knowledge and learning. “An enabling environment and the right learning attitude makes a child’s education strong, not the choice of board,” he says, adding that the onus lies on the student too.

The road ahead
Having worked in the USA and India in multinational organisations such as Indo Universal Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE), Infosys, etc, Velankar’s industrial experiences include strategic talent management, competency and knowledge management, workplace learning, training, and professional development. Add to it, his academic research and teaching experience across educational levels in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, which leads him to believe that building capacity for teachers is the way to go. “There are two ways of doing this: pre-school and in-service training for teachers. Both, according to me, are equally important,” he says.

The heavily traditional courses need to adapt to changing trends and technology must be put to positive use in terms of harnessing students’ interests. “We must re-purpose technology for learning and develop our educational infrastructure accordingly. This is difficult to achieve at a time where some of our government schools are struggling with basic infrastructure,” he sighs.

India vs abroad
Velankar says that in most developed countries, the focus is on choice-based learning. “It is this holistic learning that India lacks. Parents have to run around to ensure the extra-curricular growth of their children. Our schools largely fail to provide that,” he says. We must urge people to start these discussions. “Are we looking at the big picture? We must constantly ask  this question for sustainable development and change,” he concludes.

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