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“An education institution should be supportive of the students”, says HR College principal

All it took was one phone call and we agreed to a time for this interview. Understanding and soft spoken, he is a perfect role model for his students, who can learn much more than just finance and accounting from him. Recently taking over as the I/C Principal, he has several ideas for student development. CA Parag Thakkar, I/C Principal – H.R. College of Commerce and Economics, Churchgate, shares his thoughts with Knowledge. Excerpts from an interview:

What can educators do beyond the syllabus to engage the students more creatively in class?

I feel that teachers should share their practical experience with the students. Plus, at most colleges, at least at H.R. we have visiting faculty coming in to teach the students. Since these are professionals from the industry, the students get a good idea about how the industry works and what it expects. Today, for educational institutions, the greatest challenge is to bridge the gap between industry and academia.

According to me, the immediate solution for this could come in the form of those from the corporate sector engaging themselves with the students in terms of lectures, workshops and seminars. Going a step ahead, I would say if they can offer summer or other internships to students, the industry-preparedness would set in. At H.R., apart from hosting several such lectures and seminars, we have a placement cell which works hard to secure internships for our students.

Could you offer me a recent example?

Definitely. Recently, we conducted a panel discussion on GST almost within a week of it being passed by the parliament. We had leading practicing chartered accountants (CAs) and other organisations like Deloitte addressing the students. This enables the students to understand the situation and topic in real time from the practical perspective. What’s better, the panel members have promised to come up again to the college for further discussions as an when there are new developments, to help the students keep updated.

How can teachers motivate the students to attend their lectures without resorting to enforcing the university rules? They do attend the coaching classes regularly, though!

The faculty of most colleges is well qualified and equipped to prepare the students for the university exams. It is the student mindset that needs to be changed that the faculty at the coaching classes is better. If this change is mindset happens, the attendance will automatically improve.

I feel that educational institutions, within the framework of rules and regulations should be supportive of the students and encourage and enable them to pursue a career of their choice, whether it is academic or non-academic. Whether students are pursuing a professional course like CA, or they are trying to excel at a sport, or even working to pursue an art form, the college should be as supportive as it can.

For instance, our student, Sanjana Santosh, recently won the International Gold Medal at Varcolor Polish International 2016. It was an important tournament for her, and everyone at out college understood that. For all the classes that she had missed during the preparation and playing of the tournament, the faculty put in personal hours with her, so that she would not miss out on her academics. Her success brought fame to the country as well as the college. In fact, we hope that like P. V. Sindhu, she too represents the country at coveted events like the Olympics.

Even then, sir, most of the students will still be concerned about the marks they score, and will want to work towards marks rather than knowledge. Your views?

For certain exams like the 10th and 12th classes marks play an important role for students, because further admissions depend on the marks. At such times, the students’ focus should be on studying and securing the marks. In the other years, the focus should be on all round development of the students. You do understand that for instance, a student from class six will go to class seven after the academic year no matter what the marks – whether he scored 90% or 80%. It is the interest of the student that matters, and that should be factored in for all round development.

One of the largest stakeholder group of an education institution is the student group. In fact, the institutions exist for them and because of them. Working so closely with my students for so many years, has offered me several opportunities to get feedback from them on everything that concerns them. In this way, I am able to work towards fulfilling their expectations from the college and overcome the challenges and hurdles faced by them. If I would not have that feedback, there would be a gap between the expectations of the students and the delivery by the college.

How important are soft skills according to you?

Very! Nowadays, before even the marks, communication skills are judged by the employer. This is also realised by the education institutions, and therefore they not only train the students in this respect, but have gone beyond. You see, earlier, inter-collegiate events consisted mostly of cultural and sports competitions, whereas now events based on soft skills, research and analytical abilities are also being conducted. Teams from H.R. have participated and won many such competitions. We also lay a thrust on research and academic papers, we have a separate research cell. Regular sessions are held in college for guiding the students in research. This enhances the students’ skills in presentation and talking as well, enabling them to develop confidence in carrying themselves.

What is your message to our student readers?

There would be many challenges in building any career, but they should not be looked at as hurdles, to mane the students change their career path. These challenges should be faced, and overcome by them to build their careers. However, they have to be ethical in achieving their goals.

Original: http://www.freepressjournal.in/education/an-education-institution-should-be-supportive-of-the-students-says-hr-college-principal/955664
By: Shraddha Kamdar
Posted: October 17, 2016, 11:41 am