New Delhi: The Vice President, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today asked universities to become thought leaders in finding solutions to global challenges such as climate change, poverty and pollution. He also wanted the universities to discuss various socio-economic and political issues facing the world and come up with ideas that can be implemented by the governments as per their needs and suitability.
Addressing the inaugural session of World Universities Summit organised by O.P. Jindal University, Sonipat virtually, the Vice President said that universities should produce good academicians, economists and politicians who have good conduct, capacity, character and caliber.
Referring to the theme of the Summit, “Universities of the Future: Building Institutional Resilience, Social Responsibility and Community Impact”, Shri Naidu called for promoting multi-disciplinary approaches and emphasised the need for collaborative academic effort to create sustainable and scalable solutions to the challenges around us. He opined that sustainable development was the answer to many challenges faced by the world today and universities can play a major role towards this end. “Universities need to embed sustainability as an underlying mission across all activities they pursue in various fields”, he said.
Stating that virtual education cannot be a substitute for conventional classroom learning, the Vice President emphasised the need to develop a hybrid teaching model for future by combining the best elements of offline and online education. He said that such a model should be both interactive and interesting for the learner as well as the teacher to ensure the optimum learning outcomes. He stressed that teaching is not simply content delivery; rather it should prepare students to learn independently and creatively. “Through pro-active critical thinking, learners should be moulded into leaders in their chosen fields, so that eventually they evolve into drivers of social change”, he added.
Shri Naidu recognised that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced faster innovation in the discipline of education which can help us build a more equitable system of teaching and learning. However, he also expressed the need to constantly improve and upgrade the online academic ecosystem. Calling for increased use of artificial intelligence in edutech, the Vice President opined that it could enrich the teaching–learning experience significantly and can also provide personalized education to every child. In addition to this, Shri Naidu wanted online educational tools to be used in skill training and adult education to enhance the skills and employability of our huge youth population.
At the same time, the Vice President observed that experts have cautioned about the risk of myopia among children who spend long hours on digital devices and stay indoors. In this context, he suggested that students should spend half of their time in the classroom and the rest in the playground or with nature.
The Vice President said that the current pandemic has made us realise that no polity in the world is fully prepared against the unknown threats of the future. Referring to the saying that—‘no one is safe until everyone is’, he stated that crisis management on a global scale requires a many-pronged, multicultural, collective approach warranting the cooperation of all.
Appreciating the role of universities in research on Covid-19 vaccination and related fields, Shri Naidu said that humanity owes much to thousands of faculty members, research scholars and students who have spent countless days and nights working silently to bring out useful research for the benefit of the world.
Calling for internationalization of curriculum, he wanted increased collaboration on research, joint classes and student projects with the active involvement of the industry. He also wanted Indian varsities to sensitize the world to the richness of ancient Indian knowledge systems that seek to promote sustainable ways of production and consumption.
The Vice President termed education as very critical to laying a robust foundation for any nation in ensuring its economic and social prosperity. He complimented O.P. Jindal Global University for being ranked amongst top 700 universities globally and the number one private university in India in the QS World University Rankings 2021. Highlighting the importance of higher education, he said that beyond their primary role of teaching and learning, higher education institutions are also centres of knowledge and rich intellectual capital which, through their impact-driven research, contribute significantly to the cause of nation-building.
Referring to the complexity and diversity of India’s large population, the Vice President wanted equity of access to education and called for the balance of quantity and quality of education to reap the benefits of our huge demographic dividend. “With our rich history of Vedas and Upanishads, we must strive to become a landmark knowledge capital of the world or Vishwa Guru, once again”, he added.
In this context, Shri Naidu suggested that public-private partnership is the way forward as the governments alone cannot do everything. Appreciating the founder chancellor of JGU, Shri Naveen Jindal for his efforts, he urged philanthropists and industrialists to help in the cause of education by joining the education sector and improving facilities.
The Vice President commended the O.P. Jindal Global University Vice Chancellor Prof (Dr.) C Raj Kumar for bringing together over 150 thought leaders from across 25+ countries who will deliberate to drive innovation in higher education. He expressed optimism that the three-day Summit will result in some transformative ideas for innovation and re-imagination of the future of Indian and global higher education.
Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister of Education, Prof. (Dr.) D. P. Singh, Chairman, University Grants Commission (UGC), Shri Naveen Jindal, Founding Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University, Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar, Founding Vice Chancellor and Prof. Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, Registrar, O.P. Jindal Global University were among the dignitaries who attended the virtual event.