Ruth Butaumocho recently in New Delhi, India
When Budiriro Maunda (22) left for India to study for a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Sharda University three years ago, all he wanted was to attain good passes that would enable him to get a good job back home. Two years into his studies, it dawned on him that he could actually set up a business once he finished the programme instead of looking for a job.
“It would be a waste of knowledge to become an employee instead of starting my own company,” he told The Herald in an interview.
“The curricular is designed in such a way that you have to redirect your planning towards employment creation.”
Budiriro is among hundreds of students studying in India. He has benefited immensely from an education system that is futuristic and focuses on employment creation. This is coming at a time when most countries across the world are grappling with unemployment. Educationists say the internet and other automation technologies have impacted on organisations and societies in an unprecedented manner.
They say automated and artificial intelligence have shortened the life cycle of jobs and skills. Skills acquired by students in their graduate schools help them only for possibly next three to four years.
Higher education institutions and policy makers cannot remain untouched with these developments. It is against this background that India has in the past few years revamped its curriculum to align it with emerging global trends that require higher education systems to act as nexus for employment creation and start-ups.
India stands tall among nations that have made a paradigm shift in its education system by implementing futuristic higher education systems that take into account emerging trends in information communication technology. Recently, India hosted global a higher education summit that attracted more than 2 000 delegates from 50 countries.
Chairman for the Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dr Raman Saxena said a paradigm shift in learning models for students was crucial to ensure that their skills remained relevant to the needs and demands of industry. “Just as the customer is at the centre of business today, it is the student who is at the core. Hence learning models have to be redefined to enable this digital savvy student to learn in a 24×7 mode from global resources,” he said.
Dr Saxena added that such a model would only be achievable once higher education institutions do away with conventional education systems that are mass based and have no room for individual and experiential learning. “For the student, the value of conventional education has ceased to exist because it is not equipping him or her for new job and skills. Institutions need to adopt the education 4,0 model, which encourages personalised learning in both physical and virtual learning environment,” he said.
The shift in curriculum has also seen several Zimbabwean students strategically positioning themselves for tertiary institutions that are futuristic and keen on start-ups. Sharda University in New Delhi, which currently has 30 students from Zimbabwe studying various disciplines, said they have robust curricular across disciplines focusing on employment creation and start-ups.
“We are satisfied by the academic commitment shown by students studying at the tertiary institution, who are keen on becoming leaders and employers rather than see themselves as employees after graduation,” said Saubhik Dey, a Sharda University official. “Most of our curricular focus on employment creation through the use of various models that are already in use in our industries and have been a hallmark of success.”
Mr Dey said the students were committed to their work, adding that the institution was working to increase its enrolment of students from Zimbabwe. The global summit also provided a forum for international education providers interested in partnering and engaging Indian higher education institutions on a number of areas, among them exchange programmes for both students and teaching staff.
Another Zimbabwean student studying engineering at Chandigarh University, also in India, Maxima Mutena, said there were vast reservoirs of learning resources in the world that students could take advantage of and equip themselves with virtual knowledge. This, he said, could encourage them to work on start-ups.
“Global trends on any subject are changing everyday as information communication systems become the integral part of any society. The student will need to focus on integrating these global resources of knowledge,” he said. India is one of the top countries that have successfully linked tertiary institutions with industry promoting employment creation.
Mutena added that the majority of his friends chose courses that promoted start-ups rather than focus on becoming employees. “The majority of the nearly 3 000 students that are here — including my friends from Zimbabwe — are studying information technology, engineering, business administration, nanotechnology, and agro-related studies, premised on the projection that Africa would be the next frontier in agriculture,” he said.
India has the largest higher education system in the world in terms of the numbers of institutions and the second largest in terms of higher education students enrolled at its universities and colleges. More than 20 million tertiary students — 3 000 of them from Zimbabwe — are studying in India’s 677 universities and nearly 40 000 colleges.
India presently offers an encouraging ecosystem of learning with strong industry placement focus. Increasingly, a strong start-up ecosystem is under creation in addition to the strong industry placement focus, which is making India a preferred destination for international students particularly those coming from Africa.