November 17, 2014 — Meeting with Education Commission of West Bengal

AMCHAM Eastern Region was invited by the Education Commission of West Bengal to participate in an Industry meeting to share its observations on the gaps in knowledge, skills and technical knowhow among the students of West Bengal. They had asked for recommendations from the Industry on modifying the education system to ensure that students become employable not only in West Bengal but across the country/world.

AMCHAM was represented by Mr. K. P. Sengupta, Chairman, Education and Knowledge Sub-Committee, Ms. Amada Kidwai, Regional Director, Eastern Region, Ms. Britta Leick-Milde, Member Executive Committee and General Manager, Hyatt Regency and Ms. Susmita Mallik, Genpact CSR Global Head.

Professor Samir K. Brahmachari, Chairman, West Bengal Education System chaired the meeting. The Hon’ble Minister of State, Department of School Education, Higher Education, GoWB and Professor Saugata Roy M.P. attended the meeting and took note of the inputs and recommendations of the Industry.

The most common view expressed in the meeting across the board was that the education system should not be politicised, as it was felt that this would improve the academic environment. It was suggested that “Student Unions” bodies could be changed to “Student Councils”.

Some of the salient suggestions were:
• In many colleges the quality of teachers varies diversely. It was felt that there should be an efficient control system on performance of teachers and their effective teaching time. It is observed that classes are often cancelled due to lack of teachers or due to teachers being on other assignments.

• There should be a focus on specific need based education rather than more general education. Apprenticeship or vocational training should be regularized and controlled by the Government. Vocational training should be a mix of theoretical knowledge (school) and practical skills (on the job) monitored by the Apprentice board.

• Language and Computer Skills should be given due importance. Computer skills are relatively good in West Bengal. However, if students from West Bengal are to be leaders across the country and abroad then there should be more emphasis on communication skills and English.

• The percentage marking system in West Bengal needs to be aligned with the Universities and Colleges in the rest of India to ensure uniform employability. It was felt that this would the retain students in the State.

Britta Leick-Milde said that the curriculum needs to be permanently modernized/ updated not only for Hospitality Management Courses but all subjects. One source of update could be to involve the industry (have HR Managers of related industries on your school board). In general service sector industries are looking for employees educated in English, who are flexible, quick in decision making and adaptable to changing situations. This comes along with a certain open mindedness which is difficult to find in students without college degree. However especially the hospitality industry does require strong practical skills and a vocational training or apprenticeship as per the German model including theoretical