Interviewed by-Mr. Nagaraj M.S.
It is indeed an honor to introduce to the readers, Dr. S.Anil Kumar, Principal, SSMRV College, a visionary in the field of education .An acclaimed author who has travelled extensively in India and abroad, interacting with fellow colleagues and students, a well-known academician, a guide, mentor and motivator to many aspiring youngsters, he is one who enjoys exploration of new methods and models.
He has published 20 articles in reputed journals and presented more than 30 research papers in National and International conferences around the world.
He has received awards in recognition of his commitment to excellence in education and research.He was conferred ‘Dedicated Service as a Teacher Award’ by his excellency, Dr .Hansraj Bharadwaj, the Governor of Karnataka organised by Rotary Bangalore South and Karnataka Civil Defence Corps. He is a proud recipient of “Dr. Abdul Kalam Gold Medal Award by “Global Economic Progress and Research Association, New Delhi.
In this interview, I look forward to understanding the forethought of the new model of education coined and implemented in our Institution by him.
Having vast experience of over more than three decades in the field of education,what, according to you, are the challenges of higher education faced by the Colleges today?
Colleges in the present competitive environment have a plethora of challenges to face. The primary issue, in the given scenario, is to reframe the mindset of the students. Majority of the students who join our Institution are first generation learners with limited exposure to goal setting and focus towards their career. This calls for the Colleges, to create a platform for the students to utilize the ‘golden period of their life’ productively. The onus lies on the Institutions- to be accountable, to make the students dream big and to foster a culture of setting ‘realizable progressive goals’ by offering them n-number of opportunities to polish their skills and unleash their talents. There are a number of other challenges that play a role in dampening the spirit of the Institution and of the students.
Can you explain further?
The other challenges faced by the Institution are the array of professional and job oriented courses that are mushrooming. The BPOs and KPOs wish to take the workforce at a young age and at a reasonable price. Students pursuing general Degree courses come from varied clusters of the society. They also have diversified interests to aspire. Therefore, these heterogeneous groups of students have to be nurtured by the Institutions as an answer to these requirements, from the available talent pool.
All factors play a role- big or small on an individual’s achievements.How,in your opinion should an Institution equip itself to deal with these factors/issues?
Everybody recognizes that time is money; that time is life; but it has to be understood that time is also mind. In my opinion, challenges that are envisaged through the journey of time be they big or small, if proactively handled ensure success. Institutions are the vehicles in this journey of time, acting as facilitation platforms for the students to face challenges in the right spirit. Thus, the need of the hour is to develop a strong culture of commitment in every institution for a socially conscious mind. The concept of ‘Education for Wholeness’ is education that encompasses within itself all the means and measures of holistic development of an individual. We all know that, today’s education is not merely acquiring of knowledge. It also refers to comprehensive and integration of diverged activities to make a student a ‘socially conscientious citizen’. This aspect, according to me is the most important aspect of education.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the concept of ‘Education for Wholeness?’
A child grows into an adult acquiring knowledge, learning from his surroundings and internalizing the values and attitudes that he is acquainted with. All the role models that a child has worshipped go through an editing phase during the child’s adolescent phase. The internalization and stabilization happens during the prime time of student life, when he/she comes to pursue his/her Degree in Colleges like ours. The learning that has happened till now by observation, now transforms into knowledge acquisition, internalization and execution. ‘Education for Wholeness’ is thus, not only delivering knowledge but also facilitating the internalization process and providing platforms to the student to experiment and execute the knowledge acquired. In this journey we see the child blooming with all the brightness, glowing with the satisfaction of the inner self, and also emitting the rays of wellness to the surroundings. Thus, ‘Education for Wholeness’ focuses on providing a ‘holistic approach’ to the journey of learning.
Where do you see the Institution in this journey?
The Institution is seen as the vehicle that carries the students through this journey. To facilitate the learning process the vehicle is designed scientifically. A model known as ‘360 degree – Education for Wholeness’ is designed and adapted. It is a ‘5 Dimensional model’ that has academics, skill development, extracurricular activities, career development, ethics and governance, as the wheels that keep it going. This ensures a smooth ride towards the student’s pinnacle of success.
The front wheel being the ‘academics’ is referred to as the knowledge of the subject that a student intends to acquire. In our Institution, we understand that a student would wish to test the constructs developed and taught. Hence, the thrust is on its execution through meticulous planning and pedagogical innovations. ‘Industry-Academia Interface’ gets a priority in the journey of delivery of knowledge. We believe in learning through interaction with all the stakeholders. To create an assured environment of learning through exploration, the Institution believes in building a congenial ‘student-teacher’ relationship. Hand holding for the desired students is provided. Additional help from experts in the industry and counseling help to bring in the concept of ‘wholeness’ in every student.
‘Skill’ is the wheel that balances and carries forward the knowledge acquired. To me, skill is very critical for the students as it creates an ability and capacity to learn to execute any task, through sustained efforts. So, upgrading the skills to competitive standards is required through active involvement of the industry. Through ‘Personality Development Programs’ we augment the skill sets of every individual in our Institution. Certificate courses are complementary to academics. Alongside, the ‘Placement Center’ provides assistance for internships to students opening doors for them into the Corporate World.
The Vehicle gains momentum with the help of the third wheel ‘Extracurricular and Co-curricular activities’.Hand in hand with knowledge and skill the key drivers for holistic development of an individual are the Extracurricular activities, and the focus on ‘Career Development’. Student involvement in other activities exposes them to the world of reality and is believed to enhance their performance in all areas. With this view in mind, our Institution has established 24 Activity Centers which help equip the students for their life skills. These Activity Centers help the students in team building, organizing and leadership qualities. Every Activity Center creates a podium for students to imbibe the life skills that are necessary for their development as individuals.
‘Career’ is a critical wheel in the journey. It helps the individual to maneuver to the heights into the direction of the goal that is set. In this endeavor, a trained Counselor helps the students in our College. The ‘Career Development and Counseling Cell’ work to help in enhancing the quality of students, by moulding them into employable, productive and skilled human resource. This Cell provides ‘Employability training’, by equipping them to enhance their aptitude, reasoning skills and making them competent to enter the Corporate World. This is reflected in our placements, I am proud to announce that placements were 94% in 2014-15, and around 90% of our students are placed till date. Some students have the urge to do something on their own,and become entrepreneurs. Our ‘Centre for Entrepreneurship Development’, has facilitated the transformation of some of our students to accomplished entrepreneurs.
A vehicle has four wheels. Your vehicle of education is beautifully balanced, but, what about the 5th wheel?
Well the spare wheel or the fifth wheel acts as an assurance to keep the mind calm and ready for any adversities to be faced during a ride. The journey of education is incomplete without the assurance of ‘Values and Culture of belongingness to the Society’. The journey of education in our College is seen to be taken in the society that we belong to. Thus, we have instituted a ‘Center for Community Services’- which contributes to the wellbeing of the society. Other Activity Centers such as NSS, the Eco-Club, Health Club, help the students to learn the values of life and teach them to live ‘In a Community, For the Community’. The foundation of Indian culture is ‘Ethics’. It is the philosophy that involves systemizing, defending and recommending what is wrong and what is right. This is an initiative by the College, with the objective of grooming the students towards ethical governance.
Sir, it is not only the students who are in this vehicle of education, what about the faculty, administration and the support services? What is the part that they play in the journey of ‘Education for Wholeness’?
To me, faculty members are the chauffeurs of the vehicle, called the ‘Educational Institution’. Students emulate the behaviors of the faculty members whom they consider as role models. Having aethically grounded and culturally rich faculty team is a pride for any institution. We believe that the learning process for a faculty does not stop here, the College initiates all those activities that help to upgrade the knowledge of the staff to set a quality benchmark in the ‘teaching-learning’ process. Majority of our faculty members are active in research. We persuade and encourage all of them to present and publish papers in various National and International platforms. One of the most significant steps taken by our Institution is the ‘Study Circle – Knowledge Sharing Platform’, the first of its kind in the Bangalore University.
The Administrative and Support Staff facilitate the smooth running of the vehicle.The processes and procedures of the Institution are facilitated by them. Meticulous in their day to day operations they contribute to the process of Institutional development acting as connectors of the five wheels. Their contribution cannot ever be undermined.
Wonderful Sir, the other stake holders like Management, parents, and employers what is their role in ‘Education for Wholeness’?
The creator of the vehicle is the Management. Without the magnanimous support of the Management the vehicle would not be in existence and in the condition that it is today. The values and culture emphasized by the vehicle is a replication of the thinking of the Management. The decision makers are out of the ordinary, and they do things that are out of the ordinary. The oil in the engine of the vehicle is what keeps the engine alive. The Management is the ensuring force that keeps this engine alive and keeps it going smooth and fast. The complete structure of the institution is the gift given by the Management to society. It is the belief that they keep in us that makes us envision to reach greater heights.
Parents and employers are the two faces of the same coin ‘The Student’. Both their views matter a lot to the students, in their journey of life. Thus, in this system of ‘Education for Wholeness’ we make all of them an integral part of the journey.
Any road blocks, breakdown lessons in your experience ?
As I have mentioned any journey is full of challenges. We are prepared for road blocks and are cautious in our approach. We are well equipped with the fifth wheel, ‘Emotional Stability’ to face breakdowns if any with peace and equanimity. When all the constituents come together and work in union, the expected results are bound to follow. The manifestation of this rule is evident in all our activities.
Thank you very much for your time, Sir. You have been an agent of change in our college, who has brought tremendous transformation by bringing revelation in all actions. We, all the staff of SSMRV College congratulates you on the positive changes brought about in the College by you, and wish you the very best in all your future endeavors!!!.