Participation from eminent academicians, policy makers and the government.
In recent years, the state of Haryana has emerged as a major hub for higher education. Ashoka University, in collaboration with the Government of Haryana recently hosted a two-day academic conference titled Making Haryana as an Education Powerhouse at the Ashoka University campus at Sonepat, on 15-16 September 2017, to foster the mutually strong relationship between the State of Haryana and the higher education sector. The Hon'ble Chief Minister of Haryana Sh. Manohar Lal Khattar, graced the conference as the Chief Guest and was joined by Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Vice Chancellor, Ashoka University; Sanjeev Bikhchandani, Co-Founder and CEO, Naukri.com; Vineet Gupta, Founder and Trustee, Ashoka University; Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Advisor, Ministry of Finance and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director India, The World Bank among other eminent academicians, policy-makers, government officials and representatives from the Ministry of Education.
Today Haryana is home to one Central University, six Deemed Universities, 15 State Universities and 20 private universities. The Conference focused on ways to strengthen the education ecosystem, identify areas of growth, open up possibilities for collaboration with world-class international universities as well as facilitate a dialogue on key issues faced by the Higher Education sector in India such as need for increased partnership between public and private universities, expanding access to higher education in the State as well as social and infrastructural development.
The Chief Minister Shri Manohar Lal, emphasized on building Haryana as a hub for higher education and spoke about the importance of virtual classrooms and the need to integrate digital lessons into the curriculum. He said that the government has appointed 5000 computer science teachers while emphasizing the need for knowledge of technology and computer science. “In today’s era, without the knowledge of computers, no one can be considered to be educated,” he said. “Skill development and employability are equally important and we need talent and motivation to put all these together,” he added.
Hon'ble Chief Minister Shri Manohar Lal speaking at the conference
Addressing the audience at the event, Shri Rajesh Khullar, ACS and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Haryana, added, “The only route through which we can make Haryana a powerhouse is by welcoming students to ask questions and then encouraging them to find the answers themselves. We are already on our way to be a powerhouse as Haryana constitutes 1% area, 2% population and 7% universities of the country.”
Shri Rajesh Khullar, ACS and Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister of Haryana
“The challenge for the government is to make a regulatory framework that doesn’t restrict creativity,” said Jyoti Arora, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Govt. of Haryana, emphasizing the necessity of frameworks to improve the quality of education before dealing with expansion and aspirations for higher education. Highlighting the growth of the State, she noted, “We have moved from one university and 47 colleges to 47 university level institutions and more than 1100 colleges in the last 50 years in Haryana. Haryana has a GER of 26.1 against the national average of 24.5.”
Jyoti Arora, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Govt. of Haryana
Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University, urged the audience to aim high and highlighted the correlation between institution building and nation building. He said, “There is no single State in India that can be treated as a model in Higher Education. Can Haryana be the catalyst that can help us overcome this defeatism that has set in the Higher education system? Average doesn't work in higher education, leadership is the only thing which works! Freedom is the elixir that drives higher education, freedom for researchers and students.”
Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Vice-Chancellor, Ashoka University
Over the course of the conference, key issues relating to the present state of educational initiatives, sustainable training, development opportunities and technological advancements were discussed by the panelists. There was emphasis on the key elements that have contributed to the evolution of the sector in recent times such as the rise of digital education, increase of access and cutting-edge academic research.
Vineet Gupta, Founder and Trustee, Ashoka University concluded the conference by addressing the challenge in higher education today and leaving the audience with some food for thought, “I personally believe India has a big challenge of access and quality in higher education. At present, only one out of four students go to college. In terms of Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), Haryana is better than the national average but still there is a long way to go. As a country, we need to double our higher education ability.”