Interview by Pratyasha
Dr. Ashok Kumar Gwal is currently designated as the Vice-Chancellor of Rabindranath Tagore University. Considered as a strong education professional with a Ph.D. in Space & Plasma Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology. He has led the Indian Antarctic Expedition team and is renowned globally for his contribution in Plasma Physics. He has worked as a scientist at IIT Kharagpur and IIT New Delhi.
In an exclusive interview with Collegedunia, Dr. Gwal talks about his experience in the education industry and challenges faced in the same.
Dr. Gwal’s take on technology changing the education industry
Education is the synergy of customs, science, soft skills, methodology and innovative thinking. I have spent a considerable amount of time in this field and have found that it is a great field to work in. This industry provides us a lot of autonomy and freedom to inculcate and execute ideas. I have had the pleasure to watch the students and teachers nurture each other’sskills while contributing to society.
Time and technology have moved far ahead. The internet has revolutionized the whole worlds. 28 years back, when computers were not existing, it was nearly impossible to think of a gadget in the hand, which could control even the gates of our garage. Technology has empowered a layman to do wonders with IoT, it has changed the lifestyle of each and every individual.
The scenario is pretty much changed; the students have a laptop, or a tablet to work on, the digital classrooms have made learning easier. MOOC enables a student to learn from teachers from any corner of the world. But yes, no one can deny the need of a teacher. A teacher was, is and will always be the center point of learning. We just need to strike a balance between the old and new methods.
Views on education industry of India
Education deals with individuals, theory, concepts, principles and practice to create competent professionals. It is crucial in a democracy, as it helps strengthen the society, which is responsible for bringing the change in various aspects of innovations, technologies, and many more things. Considering the changing interpretation and the nature of modern times, there is a need to create a robust and flexible education system. It should be able to develop a capable workforce who will be competent enough to address the multifaceted social, economic, and political changes in a vast democracy like India.
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Advanced learning and curriculum practices at Rabindranath Tagore University
Our curriculum is highly advanced in terms of theory, concepts, and hands-on opportunities from any routine curriculum. We accommodate recent trends in our syllabus periodically. The learning at the University is enhanced with subtle advancements so that students get new experiences and improve their skills. Students explore many unique aspects of their career, which will help them make their future bright and prosperous.
“Our curriculum does not burden the students rather it teaches them to be more systematic and enhances their management skills. It makes them future-ready by making them understand the importance of education.”
Challenges faced being a Vice-Chancellor
Being in an era of ever-changing scenario and different approach towards employment, the responsibility of institutes to deliver as per the expectations has become a challenge. The institution needs to undergo a significant transformation, which is inclined towards more practical and realistic policies to clutch the paradigm shift towards start-ups, innovation, and disruptive technologies. Being a Higher Education Institution, we also need to pay attention to the emotional quotient of the students and orient their approach accordingly.
Leadership style and philosophy of Dr. Gwal
Being a Vice-Chancellor, my philosophy is to focus on exploring the core competency and hidden potential of my students. We endeavour to go for the transition from “simple education” to “knowledge building.” Sustainability of knowledge in the mind of an individual is the end objective. The faculty members are aiming to help the students to use their knowledge effectively.
I believe that education should never mean a crude focus on course modules. Soft skills and confidence, among others, are the dominating traits that help us in unlocking their potential. Here, my objective is to make everyone fit to survive and not just survive; our endeavour is to help them shine. For this, we organize personality development programs, practical presentations, debates, extempores, and similar events.
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Ideal School environment and culture
It is the beauty of any educational institution to be able to inculcate a perfect blend of culture, science, and resources. My understanding of an ideal environment towards growth and enhancement is where the students are taught the right path to success. The students should be guided in a friendly and innovative way rather than being conventional in approach.
Upcoming goals for the University
Our goal is to make our university a better place for the students to get academically sound and also a better human being. We are committed to value-based education, research, innovation, knowledge sharing openness, and entrepreneurial skills.
We want our students to achieve their dreams and become global leaders while developing capabilities to accept new challenges hence forth, we seek to nurture the skills of students for all sorts of industries. In future, we shall be focusing on the mutual growth of institution and students. Innovations and creativity will dominate the conventional methods of teaching. The coming years would be more interactive and informative for students that would help them grow and learn new things.
Suggestions to the Millennial
My advice to young minds is that always be passionate about their dream and aspirations and never be shy to do more than what is expected out of them. Dreams might exceed your grasp, but this should never discourage you from working towards what you strongly believe in. Institutional education is only a mode of inculcating necessary skills in your life. But, it is your own will power that will decide how beautifully you adopt and blossom those skills. Hard work is the only way to become successful to unlock your potential.