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Reinvigorating higher education is a major challenge: President

President of India Pranab Mukherjee addressed the first convocation of the English and Foreign Languages University here on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said shared some enduring reflections that ought to guide us in advancing our vision of education. He stated that to his mind, knowledge must pave the path of life; and living must essentially encompass pursue the path of learning. From times immemorial the continent of Asia, and South East Asia in particular, opened up novel paths of learning. “Wherever the Buddha traversed – seeds of knowledge sprouted and flourished. Nalanda, after Takshashila, held the beacon of light very high for over a millennium across lands and seas and welcomed drifting seekers of knowledge and provided them a lasting resting place,” he said.

The President said that today sustaining and reinvigorating higher education, in India as well as in other parts of the world, has become a major challenge, especially so in public institutions. Challenges exist for such institutions, both from outside and inside. At least four distinct factors impinge from outside as well as inside on the administration of an institution of higher learning. According to him, these are escalation of costs of learning; narrow pragmatics, i.e. market-oriented fast-track skill acquisition, as the sole goal of learning; the allure of invasive dominant communication systems depleting attention span; and corrosion of trust. He stressed that any attempt to build or re-orient higher education in such a situation requires administrative acumen. Administrative strength and sensitivity removes hurdles in the path of learning, and allows academics to thrive, as this University has displayed. (INN)

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