Interview by Kritika Gupta
Dr. Sitaram Soni is the Vice Chancellor of ITM University, Raipur. He has over 30 years of experience in research, industry and academia. Having published and presented various research papers at a national and international level, he is also a regular speaker in the field of AI, accelerated learning, mechanism of mind, humour, creativity and design. The eminent designer has created the Brand FUNgineering™ (A trademark of ITM Group of Institutions) to popularize the science and mathematics education in various schools across India.
Dr Soni views on education industry in India
In India, the education industry is completely misaligned. It lacks the direction, focus and strategy. Barring few institutes imparting higher education, most of them are following the rut without any thinking on the causal relationship and the dynamics emerging out of continuously changing ecosystem with the short and long-term goals.
Philosophy and leadership style as the Vice Chancellor of ITM University
My philosophy of leadership is simple and clear. It comprises of two parts - Lead by shared vision and lead by example.
It simply means that every stakeholder should share the broader vision and know his/her place and contribution to make the system working and growing. Moreover, a leader should show the team that he has the first-hand experience of what he is commanding and demanding and should show them by occasionally involved in doing it. It gives everybody involved, a sense of pride and achievement. Pride and respect seem to be better motivators beyond the lower strata of needs.
Changes observed in the education industry over the past few years
The conventional leaders of education, “Mammoth Monoliths” are losing their relevance because of the rigidity in the attitude and failure to see the paradigm shift in the role of education. The agile players who are tuned to continually changing the role and purpose of the knowledge and education will lead the industry in the next three to five years.
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The signal is becoming visible; the clarity will be sharp and clear by next decade. Institutes which remain fixated to the prescribed syllabus are already outdated and will become irrelevant. Institutes which will be able to solve the problem of paradigms like Work-Based Learning (WBL) at scale will be the winners.
Ideal school environment and culture as per Dr. Sitaram
An ecosystem which drives the creative thinking, innovation, diversity, fluidity, initiatives will be the aptest school environment in the coming years. The mechanism to establish such culture is a systematic process of ensuring, discussing, free-thinking, interacting and collaborating, without too much emphasis on the rigidity of the syllabus and course structure should be followed.
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Suggestions to the youth and aspiring students
My only advice to the youth is to focus on developing the creativity and innovative mindset. Because, that is the entity which will have the maximum value in the next decade, rote knowledge, algorithmic thinking will be taken over by the machines.