Dr. Nissar Ahmed
Chairman, Presidency Group of Institutions, Bangalore
Dr. Nissar Ahmed is chairman of the Bangalore-based Presidency Group of Institutions (PGI, estb.1976) which comprise seven CBSE/CISCE-affiliated schools, three undergrad/postgrad colleges and Presidency University, Bangalore, with an aggregate 25,000 students and 1,300 teachers.
PGI’s Covid-19 response. After the mandated closure of our institutions in mid-March, we immediately began preparing to take teaching-learning to the online mode with faculty receiving intensive training in digital skills and pedagogies. Online classes commenced in end March and have proved a success. Credit for this success story should also accrue to our parents who extended full support by creating supportive home environments to facilitate smooth transition to digital learning.
Major challenges confronting Indian education in the Covid era. Most parents don’t want to send their children, especially to kindergarten and primary school. School managements need to win parents’ confidence by creating safe learning environments for children. Moreover, there’s the big challenge of poor Internet connectivity and access to digital devices.
State government fee waiver/deferment circulars to private school managements. Government should have weighed the ground realities of private education before issuing these circulars. All private schools are dependent on fees for paying teachers salaries and other capex and opex expenses. And the Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected their cash flow.
Top 3 proposals for reforming higher education in India. The draft National Education Policy 2019 has made some important recommendations for reforming the higher education system. My proposals:
Deregulation. The government should deregulate higher education, encourage promotion of private higher education institutions and grant them full autonomy
Syllabus and curriculum reform. Universities should be incentivised to offer new-age programmes and invest in research and development
Quality assurance. Government must ensure all higher education institutions provide acceptable quality tertiary education and enabling infrastructure.
Future plans. Our main focus right now is to tide over the Covid-19 crisis and ensure our campuses are compliant with the health and safety norms prescribed by WHO and government.