We are living in an era where the traditional forms and processes of teaching and learning are changing rapidly.
The ancient ideal of the institutions of higher learning being a kind of cloister or an ashram where seekers of knowledge could abstract themselves from the persistent problems of daily life, and concentrate on higher values and principles, is no longer meaningful.
One of the important aims of institutions of higher learning is to prepare the youth for work, to equip them for occupations, as well as prepare them for cultivated intellectual and human lives.
The institutions of higher learning—the universities and colleges, come into contact with students in the formative stages of their life.
The students not only study the prescribed syllabus but also acquire the intellectual equipment with which they face the problems of life. One of the persistent life problems before them is to enter into the world of work.
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In the new industrial and technological era, institutions of higher learning have to ensure that their products suit adequately to the needs of the market which constantly requires higher levels of education, skill development and professional specialisation. They have also to ensure that their products are employable.
Therefore, all levels of education must quickly move to assume greater responsibilities for preparing men and women into the changed and changing world of technological work.
Technology has created a new relationship between man, his education and his work, in which education is placed squarely between man and his work. Technology today, in fact, dictates the role that education must play in preparing man for work.
It is also being increasingly felt that all engineering, technical and vocational courses need to be made industry-oriented. They say that courses should not be just institutions-based; rather the professional trainees should be given the feel of work.
The Education Commission (1964-66) recommended: “Practical training for full time degree students should commence from the third year of the course, and should be properly prepared and supervised in cooperation with the industry. Wherever possible sandwich type of courses should be adopted.”
“For colleges and institutes of technology to become more concerned with the needs of the industry, research design projects sponsored by industry or government should be made a part of the curriculum.”
It is a valuable advice which we can ignore at our own peril.
A clear linkage and working arrangement between education and the world of work is also necessary to control lopsided development of educational facilities.
This would enable us to make education an effective instrument for occupational preparation of the labour market entrants and harness manpower resources effectively.
Future development of educational facilities in agriculture, science, engineering and technology and expansion of other vocational and technical courses needs to be so planned as to meet the requirements of employment market and the new technology.
There should be close coordination between the institutions of higher learning and the world of work due to the challenge posed by super-industrialism and tremendous increase in the rate of scientific activity which necessitate estimating and forecasting technical man-power requirements at all levels.
The development of science and technology, new fields of knowledge such as electronics, instrument technology, aeronautics and astronautics and nuclear power generation, and advanced research in various areas need careful planning for which institutions of higher learning and world of work must join hands.
We cannot get away from the idea that good higher education is one of the stepping stones to a good world of work.
Institutions of higher learning have to shoulder the responsibility of feeding the entire economic system in a country, coordinate education with man-power requirements, estimate and forecast the future requirements, plan and adjust its plans and programmes to suit the present and emerging requirements.
They cannot afford to remain in the ivory towers quite oblivious of what is needed for the changing world of work.