Liberal education can inculcate curiosity and ability to learn, say experts

Panelists share views at webinar on liberal education hosted by The Hindu jointly with Sai University

Indian higher education should develop students with an ability to be curious, question everything, be articulate, and able to solve problems proactively.

At a webinar on liberal education hosted by The Hindu jointly with Sai University on Friday, panelists pointed out that the traditional system of acquiring knowledge did not hold meaning any more. Instead, candidates with skills such as being able to communicate clearly and offer solutions to problems, will be much in demand in future.

Infosys founder N. R. Narayana Murthy believes that liberal education enhances curiosity, improves ability to think critically and independently, and could be a force in solving the problems of our society. He suggested an education model that can provide curiosity, critical thinking, and proactive problem solving.

K.V. Ramani, founder of Sai University, said liberal education should go across disciplines and permit students to pick a group of subjects that interests them instead of the current trend of choosing a course based on marks and the job it can land.

At Sai University, the focus was on providing progressively a broad, strong and wide foundation. “First we should promote critical, analytical, tech skills, which we teach in the first semester. In the second semester, students can pick their course,” he explained.

Sai University’s founding Vice-Chancellor Jamshed Barucha that said at a time when the country was introducing a National Education Policy, “we have to move very fast to prepare our youth and maximise their innate talent. That will be key for the success of India”.

“We see liberal education as a full spectrum of disciplines, of occupations, of life aspirations, including technology,” he said, adding that the institution had modelled its curriculum on “the Harvard model”, allowing a student to study data science, music and philosophy.

Mr. Murthy said that when companies hire candidates, they look for professionals who are proactive and solve problems. With top software technology companies getting 90-98% of their revenue from other countries, it had become mandatory that candidates had the ability to learn new skills, and understand aspects of new cultures to be able to deal with clients from different countries, he said.

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