How the Cafeteria Approach helps nurture global leaders

Dr Adya Sharma, director, Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, Pune

With each passing day, there is an increasing need for global leaders who can create new jobs and provide services and products which directly benefit the steadily growing world population. These leaders don’t become leaders overnight but gain valuable skills over a period of time that help them become successful entrepreneurs and business leaders. 

Our education system is now witnessing a sea change with the focus shifting from pure academics to nurturing future leaders. Therefore, institutions are offering degrees that incorporate different disciplines from different fields. A cafeteria curriculum is designed to expand the creative insight in a student. Now students can study elective subjects alongside the disciplines included in their graduate or postgraduate programme.   

The cafeteria approach allows students to select subjects and courses from different specialisations and gain credit points that are required at the end of each semester. This allows a student pursuing BBA to learn subjects related to Marketing or Human Resource Management which will prove beneficial for them in the future. 

The cafeteria approach provides students the power to choose; instead of providing a rigid curriculum, it gives students the freedom to choose their subjects according to their interests. Colleges lately are providing this freedom of choice to their students and offering them a chance to study subjects from diverse fields — all under one degree. There are numerous ways in which a Cafeteria Approach to education brings out the best in students. 

Expands the creative mind which is important for a leader

The buffet type spread of the subjects in a Cafeteria curriculum expands the student’s creative mind more than the traditional curriculum. The student gets to learn subjects of other specialisations which opens a new arena of knowledge for them each semester. Additionally, students are also placed in real-world situations to improve their problem-solving skills and ability to cope under pressure. 

Provides the freedom to choose

The Cafeteria Curriculum enables a student to create their own curriculum with a combination of core subjects, elective subjects, and ability enhancement subjects. This inculcates in them the ability to make free, just choices at a young age using their logic and understanding. Furthermore, with the freedom at hand, it also enables students to take ownership of their decisions from a young age. 

Enhances appreciation of different subjects

The curriculum gives students a choice to study a collection of subjects they like. Students can study subjects of their choice from various specialisations and even choose from other specialisations, making a flexible and highly customised curriculum of their choice. This keeps the students engaged and enables them to absorb the entire knowledge of each subject.

Provides overall knowledge for aspiring entrepreneurs

For a student aiming to become an entrepreneur, only having an understanding of business or any particular specialisation isn’t sufficient. The chance to study marketing and business management subjects along with their core subjects increases their skillset, providing more opportunities to attain their future goals.

Challenges traditional education structure

Earlier, if a student chose to study a particular subject they had to carry it for a lifetime or drop out. The new curriculum allows students to study different preferred subjects and change their specialisation accordingly. This also prevents students from making subject choices based on parental preferences, thereby giving students the freedom to follow their own preferred path and change it based on their preferences.

Many prominent global leaders are individuals who made offbeat decisions and choices as compared to the rest of the community and the Cafeteria Approach allows one to make these unconventional decisions in a flexible and organised manner. 

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