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Varsities should discuss socio-economic, political issues facing world: VP

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Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday 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 governments as per their requirements.

Virtually addressing the inaugural session of World Universities Summit, the vice president said 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”, Naidu called for promoting multi-disciplinary approaches and emphasised on collaborative academic effort to create sustainable and scalable solutions to the challenges around us. 

According to an official statement, 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.

Noting that virtual education cannot be a substitute for conventional classroom learning, the vice president said there was a need to develop a hybrid teaching model for future by combining the best elements of offline and online education.

He said 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.

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 personalised education to every child.

Naidu also called for use of online educational tools in skill training and adult education to enhance skills and employability of the huge youth population. 

Appreciating the role of universities in research on COVID-19 vaccination and related fields, 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 internationalisation 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 sensitise the world to the richness of ancient Indian knowledge systems that seek to promote sustainable ways of production and consumption.

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 the 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.

Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and UGC chairman D P Singh were among those who attended the virtual event organised by the O P Jindal University.

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