Chancellor of Shobhit University, Meerut, Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra chats up about how employment has become intrinsically related to education and forms the basis of conscious decisions of today’s students, along with the initiatives taken by his university focussing on skill sets of individual candidates, thus paving the way for better grooming and superior results. Excerpts:
Education is an investment in knowledge that pays the best interest. Kunwar Shekhar Vijendra, Chancellor of Shobhit University Meerut and Shobhit University Gangoh, Uttar Pradesh, is also an acclaimed social entrepreneur based in New Delhi who is adept in leadership roles in many organisations and has been awarded a number of honorary positions and accolades including Lions International Award for Selfless Service to Humanity.
When asked about his notion on the education structure of today, he says “we have over 600 million youth (below 25 years of age) in our country but the real lookout is, are we really ‘young’ in our aspirations, the possibilities and the opportunities available.” He also stresses “a report by Harvard University points out that 26 per cent of academic infrastructure is used optimally, which means with over 33,000 higher educational institutes, we have the capacity to hold over 1 lakh students.”
Vijendra also adds “to alleviate our education system, we must understand the youth and where they aspire to be”. He explains how the prime concern of today’s youth is employment and how through this idea they perceive education as a direct connection with money. He reminiscences “earlier education was the key to liberation, empowerment and being a good human being and then to earn a livelihood”. The major issue today as he portrays is “settlement”. “At Shobhit University, we are running some investigations on the education system. We had our annual national submit in the presence of the Minister of Skill Development and we have decided to develop a model termed SEIZ (Skill Entrepreneurship Innovation Zone).” He further adds: “This will help the education system at lot. We visited at least 20 villages along with 100 schools and urged people to come forward and join SEIZ.”
He also states: “Our motive is to educate the youth, give them a skill set and make them able enough to take up a profession of their choice”. He explains how they are inspiring the impoverished youth to have an education at no cost. “Once when I went to a factory and came back with the technician, the engineering students had to learn to weld and we invited over 20 boys from the villages after consideration with the Pradhans, and after a month, we had almost 18 students who learned the skills and were employable with Rs 18,000 remuneration per month.” He dots on how the SEIZ can be built without any monetary investment but with proper planning and how it’s crucial for the development of the youth in every possible way. “Where there is a problem, there’s a solution and believe we have to introduce new ideas rather than copying, which will not take us anywhere.”
While talking about the enrolment of youth in education, he points out “education should be all-inclusive and we should not look at the figures alone but focus more on how students can achieve quality. We don’t have enough higher education institutes as opposed to our number of students and that’s where we are lagging. This is why a high percentage of today’s youth are not pursuing higher education”. He solemnly believes that the online education system has democratised the opportunities and such initiatives should always be celebrated. He adds “ours is an agrarian country and does not have a wide range of educational options in that field. However, employment rates are high as agriculture is multi-disciplinary and to incentivise the youth, we have devised a sector with the former Director General of NIC”.
While talking about placement snags, he says: “I believe universities should not be job-providing factories and rather impart quality education. I disagree when people call somebody non-employable — as a matter of fact, an individual is good at something or the other, he just needs to discover his knack.” He adds: “In Shobhit, I always ask students what is the social impact of their paper? When we all begin to perceive that we are united and that all the institutions are under one educational ecosystem, then only can we engage in the betterment of the system”. Vijendra also talks about how they don’t have a placement cell in their university yet 90 per cent of their students are now working under renowned projects. “We take in students and from the 5th semester onwards, they are given individual attention and they share their aspirations and the companies they want to work with according to which necessary training is entailed so they begin their internships at the earliest.” He exclaims: “We are trying to transform students into skilled professionals rather than robots.” While addressing the Gordian knot regarding migration, he adds: “We are setting up projects in rural areas and we have to deduce the skills everyone requires so that from every city, the employment issue can be eradicated and we get to understand the needed skill sets in accordance with the area”.
He amalgamates the ways education system worked at Nalanda when he explains how it ran on the revenue collected from 100 nearby villages and stresses on how it is a lesson learnt from history that would actually expedite the journey towards a better educational environment. He also adds: “We are all small fishes in a big ocean and only through joint endeavours, we can survive.”
Lastly, he states: “We should enthuse our children to think out of the box, engage in collateral education where the mind is independent because, at the end of the day, education should always lead to liberation and solace.”