Every educational institution focuses on moulding students into able bodied professionals and dedicated citizens, who would lead the nation towards prosperity. However, the proper functioning of any institution requires the leadership of an excellent principal, who ensures that educational activities are properly carried out. They take equal care of teachers, students, and staff, while ensuring their overall development.
One such erudite Principal, who is taking Bajaj Institute of Technology, Wardha to the heights of curricular and extra-curricular prominence is none other than Dr. Narendra Kanhe. He is a veteran educator, who is guiding the institute and assisting students so that they can build a bright career path.
In an interview with The Knowledge Review, Dr. Narendra Kanhe shares about his journey, his contribution towards the education industry, his major achievements, and future plans. Following are the highlights of the interview:
1. Please introduce yourself to our readers and your professional journey so far.
I am a B.E. in Civil Engg. from Govt. College of Engineering, Amravati, Maharashtra and M.E., Ph.D. in Environmental Engg. from VNIT, Nagpur. I have 30 years of rich experience in technical education, research, and consultancy, including 11 years of experience as a Principal of Engineering Institution, out of which 4 years at Bajaj Institute of Technology, Wardha. I have to my credit 35 research papers published in international and national journals and conferences. I had registered seven patents in the field of energy, environment and hydraulics, out of which three patents have been awarded by the Indian Patent office.
I had visited Ohio State University and Lamar University USA, Hohai University, Nanjing China for research collaborations and for presenting research paper. I am an approved supervisor of R.T.M. Nagpur University, and six candidates have been awarded Ph. D. in Civil Engineering under my supervision. I am a Life Fellow of Indian Water Works Association and Life Member of Indian Concrete Institute and Indian Society for Technical Education. I am currently serving as an Executive Council Member of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University, Lonere, Maharashtra, an only Technological University of Govt. of Maharashtra. I have also translated a book on “Environmental Science” from English to Marathi in AICTE’s regional language education initiative. I am a motivational speaker, guide, and counsellor to the students. I strongly believe in the proverb “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently”.
2. What inspired you to step into the education industry?
While applying the theoretical concepts on field, I always felt that I would have got more exposure in student life. This thought triggered an idea of guiding the students, while I was working on projects in my initial professional career years.
I started conducting practical training for students and understood that I have been gifted with nice presentation and communication skills. These training activities became the passion and after working for 6 years on industrial projects, I decided to enter the education field. I am a self-made person who tried to imbibe the best qualities of my teachers and my mentors from industry and education fields. My inspiration of guiding the youngsters to go on right paths made my education profession as my passion.
3. Tell us about Bajaj Institute of Technology and how you came to be the principal of it.
Shiksha Mandal started the Bajaj Institute of Technology at Wardha in 2017-18, which is affiliated to Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Technological University, the only state Technological University of Maharashtra. The advantage of this is that the curriculum and valuation is of high quality. Its uniqueness is its focus on enhancing students’ capability through rigorous learning, an emphasis on learning fundamentals, and capacity to use them through hands-on work in the workshop and laboratories and through projects. All students undergo internship in industry during the summer break at various reputed companies all over India. In short, BIT is committed for producing industry ready engineers and good human beings who will innovate and deliver.
In 2017, I had completed seven years of experience as head of Engineering Institute and wanted to shift to newer institutes to take up the challenge of its development. I was well aware about the excellent work culture of Shiksha Mandal Wardha, a 100+ years old education trust. It is growth oriented, student centric, and follows all ethical practices. Bajaj Institute of Technology, Wardha, has renowned industrialist Padma Bhushan Rahulji Bajaj, President of Bajaj Auto Ltd.; Shri Shekharji Bajaj, CMD of Bajaj Electricals; and other renowned industry persons on Board of Governance. The wonderful infrastructure designed by Architect Christopher Benninger and excellent laboratory equipment for imparting best practical education to students and the way of recruiting faculty on merit basis. The Chairman Mr. Sanjay Bhargav has a strong vision for the institute. This vision is supported by Mr. Charudatt Deshpande, Dean of Engg, who is Ex G.M. of R&D division, Bajaj Auto Ltd. They were the motivating factors who made my decision stronger to take up the responsibility of the Institute as a Principal.
4. Kindly share your views regarding interactive, online educational content and how it is affecting students and modern classrooms. How are you helping make educational technology usable and applicable to school or college education?
Online learning programmes are helping the educators enhance their skills in curriculum implementation, policy, education systems, and leadership, both independently and with support of their institutions. It lets them collaborate with their peers and learn new instructional skills that are relevant to their career.
These programs help them develop new skills and capabilities in their students with the help of technology and interdisciplinary approaches. Online learning helps students to pursue highly individualised learning programmes combined with hands on exercises, real world exploration and thorough assessments. Technology adds on to the visual experience by incorporating graphics, animations that can be used interactively for effective learning and communication.
In the online mode of education, we altered the ways in which students’ achievements are measured, eliminating the lengthy assignments and changing assessment strategies altogether. Such alterations include determining learning through strategies that leverage the online delivery mode such as interactive discussions, student-led teaching, and the use of games and interesting quizzes to increase motivation and attention. Specific changes that are being continued include flexible or extended deadlines for assignments completion, more student’s choice regarding measures of learning, and more authentic experiences that involve the meaningful application of newly learned skills and knowledge. For eg. team-based projects that involve multiple creative and social media tools in support of collaborative problem solving.
5. Which branch of educational philosophy do you and Bajaj Institute of Technology subscribe to and implement in your classrooms? And why?
We believe in the philosophy of such education system which will prepare our students for a rapidly changing and increasing complex world. We believe in essentialism which involves teaching of basic skills that have been proven over time to be needed in the society. In pursuit of student centricity, ours is student-centred philosophy which includes progressivism which focuses on developing the student’s moral compass, and humanism to foster each student to his or her fullest potential. Our constructivism philosophy focuses on using education to shape a student’s world view. We also believe in re-constructivism which depicts the perspective that education is the means to solve social problems.
6. Education is considered a tool for empowerment. What effort do you and BIT Wardha take to make sure that education is provided to those who need it?
Basically, my ideology and the institute’s principle is to provide quality education to all the stakeholders including socio-economically weaker sections of the society in much affordable fees. Besides various applicable govt. scholarships, we provide Bajaj foundation’s scholarships funded by our parent organization Shiksha Mandal to needy merit students based on their family’s economic status. We have also tied up with three NGOs which provide scholarships to deserving students who can’t afford the fees.
7. What is the one thing you would like to change in India’s higher education system?
I would suggest skill-based learning after secondary education and the examination patterns should be designed suitably for each course based on the practical things and the gained skills presentation practically.
8. Please share what lies ahead for you and your institute in the near future.
Our institute would like to gain an autonomous status in next 5 years and start industry need-based training, practical, live projects, and all year internships in industries. We ensure that students really become industry ready and compatible to face the competitive world. We would seek support from major industries for having people from their R & D, design, planning, and execution fields to collaborate with us on regular basis to train our students and make them educated with real world applications.
9. What advice would you like to give those who aspire to step into the field of education?
Take up this responsibility as your interest and passion. Enter after getting in-depth knowledge and practical exposure. One should be well versed with industry application aspects and should be knowing the latest technology and trends in their respective fields so that students would be benefitted by their know-how. The educators should be lifelong learners and should have tremendous enthusiasm and interest in student’s development. They should be a facilitator, guide and counsellor to students. Educators should also have character, positive attitude, and should be considerate and empathetic.