Reshape IT Education

IT education in India has spread very widely in the last two decades. The mismatch between demand and supply of qualified IT professionals in the 1990s led to very rapid growth of educational institutions. Many new institutions came up and gave special emphasis to produce students with decent abilities in computer related skills. As a result, large number of students with degrees like BTech and MCA could be readily employed cashing on the high demand in the software market. Unfortunately, this situation is now passé. We are beginning to see a decline in the number of students being absorbed by the industry.

As if this is not bad enough, leading employers from the IT industry continue to complain about the quality of the students they get to employ. The industry mentions that an unflattering 75 percent of the available graduates are not employable due to inadequate quality. It is therefore important to ponder over the reasons and devise the necessary corrective steps.

The reasons are not very difficult to find. Rapid spread of colleges and universities to impart IT education in a market that was growing fast led to reduced emphasis on quality. Regulatory authorities in their wisdom chose to put emphasis only on creation of physical infrastructure. Very little attention was paid to the quality of human elements. In this competition to generate numbers, compromises may have been made regarding the quality of students registering for the courses and quality of teachers teaching these courses. Even the syllabus used in various universities became static and do not keep pace with the rapid changes in the technology spectrum. A more subtle point, balancing between the concept and skill parts in the curriculum is also missed out.

Looking at the way Indian economy is evolving, we need to harness our great demographic potential. We have millions of intelligent students and teachers. They need to be mentored appropriately. While learning of the skills to do a job is required, it is not enough. It is also essential to learn the traits needed to think, conceptualize and innovate. Without these abilities in the workforce, India will continue to be a marginal player in the high stakes of technology world of future. In the last three decades large numbers of talented scientists and engineers have opted for careers in IT and software. We can bank on them and encourage the right ones among them to pursue innovation and ideate. As automation and software gets integrated into practically every aspect of our living we must develop new products and solutions based on local ideas. If the right scales of usage can be found, India will turn itself from a net technology importer to an exporter. This transformation can begin only with appropriate changes to education, particularly technology education. It should be taken up as a national mission without any further delay.

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