Education as Business – M.S. Srinivasan

[When education and business come together it leads to a confusing mixture of aims. This article examines some of the problems of private enterprise in business.]

Education and business have different aims or to use the more pregnant Indian terminology, dharmas. The dharma of business is to gain profit and create wealth for the society. The dharma of education is to impart knowledge, values and skills or in a broader perspective the art and science of right living. But in our contemporary society, dominated by the commercial motive, there is an obscuring mixture of dharmas between these two human activities. Education is becoming business and business is entering in a big way into education. Recently, a leading Indian business magazine brought out a special issue on “Edupreneurs”, Indian entrepreneurs who have built highly profitable business empires in education. There is nothing wrong or adharmic in allowing private enterprise in education. But the edupreneurs have to make a conscious effort to keep the dharma of education in front and should not allow the commercial motive to smother it. As we have indicated earlier, the dharma of education is not to create “intellectual capital” or merely to impart employable skills but to build balanced and integrated individuals who can use their knowledge and skill under the guidance of higher values.

However, once we allow private enterprise into education, we cannot keep education entirely free from the commercial motive and a certain amount of dilution of the dharma of education in order to cater to the needs of the career oriented, ambitious and get-rich-quick mentality of the “customer.” This puts enormous pressure on the faculties of those institutions which do not succumb entirely to the commercial motive and make the difficult and brave attempt to hold on to the ideals of educational dharma. We must note here that there is no such additional or special pressure on educational institutions which are run entirely on business lines. They are for all practical purpose no longer educational institutions, but business organisations where teachers are executives who have to face the same type of stress or pressure any executive has to cope with in a commercial organisation.

But in an institution which tries to hold on to the dharmic ideal of education and at the same time have to cope with the demands of the present student generation and the commercial need of a private management the pressure on the faculties are great. They have to maintain a difficult balance between teaching, research and inculcating higher values to the student community.

There is no easy solution to the problem. The long-term remedy has to begin at the level of recruitment, by choosing people who love teaching or research, sensitive to higher values and willing to make the effort to live them. The second step is to create an environment which provides sufficient leisure, opportunities and motivation for the intellectual, moral and spiritual development of the faculties. Another important factor is to maintain right balance between teaching and research among faculties according to their inner aptitude. The prevailing formula, “publish or perish” should not be uniformly applied to all the teachers, disregarding their natural inclinations. The third factor is a greater stress on development of inner faculties ─ intellectual, ethical, aesthetic, pragmatic and dynamic ─ rather than on imparting concepts or external skills.

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2 thoughts on “Education as Business – M.S. Srinivasan

  1. In real life, when commercial interest steps in this noble field, it begins with cost cutting by not having optimum staff, charge more fees ,etc. It should be made taxable like any other business.

  2. 12 December 2014 Thank you for this message “EDUCATION AS BUSINESS”. I fully agree with the statements in the message. Making a living, and how best to live with the earnings must not be linked. The skills needed to make a living, however involved and demanding, are low-level skills at the physical level though involving mental skills. Learning involves personal inclinations for bettering one’s quality of living and continuing self-education as providing opportunities for upgrading oneself above the physical level. In today’s life these are mixed up unthinkingly. Children are advised to choose their pursuits as linked to the ability to earn and attaining higher financial status, however unsuitable to their mental orientation. This rat-race for higher and higher status are the real Ponzi schemes touted in front of the younger generation. Gone are the days when lawyers were self-taught scholars in other disciplines, physicians were pursuing fine arts, nuclear scientists could discuss philosophy with the best in the line, and even avowed business magnates patronised schooling and fine arts out of their personal inclination. Converting the survival level skills as the be-all-in life rules the world today. By singing film songs expertly one can earn very high prizes, while a medico gets employed by medical institutions at lower than clerical salaries of state employees. Even the Corporate Social Responsibility is implemented ulteriorly to improve the commercial exposure and meet competition. People need to be taught to distinguish property and status on the one hand and self-growth at the personal level on the other. Please continue to provide further insights similar to this.

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