Why should governments set academic standards? Why should government institutions create benchmarks for academic institutions? Why should bureaucrats decide about academic standards? It is the academic institutions that should prescribe what bureaucrats should do – not vice versa. It is the role of academic institutions to define and establish ideals for democracies. The roles of academic institutions should not be limited to the thinking of bureaucrats. There is a need to revisit the academic ecosystem.
India always has held a tradition of respecting knowledge above all other aspects of life. Even in ancient history, we find mention of powerful kings displaying the highest respect for knowledge centres of that time. The Gurukuls (which were the centres of knowledge in Ancient India) were respected and regarded as apex institutions and their verdicts were followed even by the most powerful kings. The tradition of respecting knowledge and knowledge disseminating institution is one of the most fundamental principle values of any civilization.
Long ago in History, we find mention of great scholars visiting Taxshila, Nalanda, and other Indian universities so that they could remain true scholars. Travelling was not easy in those days. The spirit to learn and share was so dominant that those scholars overcame all challenges and immersed in these difficulties with joy in order to learn and grow. The spirit to share and exchange knowledge and the spirit to engage in purposeful dialogue was the central spirit in those academic institutions. Those academic institutions have not survived, but the spirit to share knowledge still survives.
Fortunately, the academic ecosystem has started expanding now. If globalization has affected all industries, why shouldn’t it affect academics also? If every industry is today part of a global network – why shouldn’t the education sector also be a part of a global network? The education sector is a global sector now. Thinking about the national benchmark is obsolete. There is a need to replace these benchmarks with global benchmarks. There is a need to replace quality standards from regional standards to global standards. There is a need to introduce global benchmarks in all our academic institutions. Very few academic institutions are able to integrate themselves with global networks.
Teachers have to be students first. They have to constantly try to keep their student alive. The spirit to learn is essential. A teacher doesn’t teach by verbal lectures alone – he inspires through his actions. His respect for learning will create a passion to learn among the students. The process of learning is more important than learning itself. Students must develop an appetite for learning. Teachers have the challenge of maintaining their learning spirit and keep updating themselves. They have to search for an academic community to keep learning
Digital societies are new options for teachers to learn and grow. A large number of internet-based platforms are available that enable teachers to keep learning and sharing. Teachers have to engage in the process of learning from their peers in other institutions and pass on this knowledge to their students.
Online knowledge-sharing communities are growing and this is a positive opportunity for teachers to engage in the process of learning and growing. The most important challenge is to create powerful learning communities that can create new benchmarks of knowledge sharing. Academic networks should start creating their own standards and benchmarks, which should guide all other institutions. There is a need to revive the role of academic networks – which should again become the apex centre.
Academic fraternity should revive their lost confidence and should re-establish their identity and stature. They should start guiding all other organizations including bureaucrats. They must understand their roles and establish the highest standards of research, publications, and knowledge creation. They should become knowledge creators in the true sense. If society is facing darkness or climate crisis or lack of clarity regarding the future directions, there is hope in the form of the academic community. This community is actively searching for the best options for society. This community takes the wellbeing of society as its goal and sacrifices its own personal interest for the benefit of the larger society.
Every educational institution should expand its horizon beyond its physical boundaries and enable its faculty members to be a part of a greater academic ecosystem. Every academic body must lay down its own standards, which should obviously be much higher than regional or national standards. Let us hope that we have true knowledge creators, who become a source of hope for us. Digital platforms will enable knowledge creators to establish, share and revive the highest standards for society again.
About the Author:
Trilok Kumar Jain, Professor & Dean, Suresh Gyan Vihar University Jaipur
Trilok Kumar Jain is Professor and Dean at International School of Business Management, Suresh Gyan Vihar University Jaipur, and Director of Ecosystem for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with expertise in Spiritualism, Higher Education Management, Spiritual Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship. He is actively engaged in mentoring startups, conducting FDPs, motivating teachers, and is also active on many social media platforms. He is also a contributor to the UN encyclopedia on sustainable development, published by Springer Nature. He has been writing articles, poems, and inspiring articles for the youth. He has contributed a large number of e-books, articles, videos on academics, educational management, the transformation of society, and faculty empowerment. He is an active contributor to many journals and blogs including IU E-magazine. He is on the board of many institutions including ICFAI University Jaipur, Atal Incubation Centre, JITO Incubation center.
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