Quality and quantity cannot be mutually exclusive in Indian education if the country wants to continue on the growth path. That was the message coming out of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s two-day National Summit on Quality in Education being held in Chennai.

“Our demographic dividend can become a demographic disaster unless scaleability, inclusiveness and excellence are achieved,” said Anand Sudarshan, managing director of Manipal Education.

Without appropriate hand-holding for the rural and other disadvantaged sections of society, India cannot pursue the dream of being the next superpower, said K.N. Shenoy, chairman of the CII Institute of Quality, which is organising the event.

He noted that his Institute had been carrying out training programmes for headmasters, cluster school programmes and other quality improvement measures, especially in government schools, in order to achieve this goal.

M.V. Subbiah, who is chairman of the National Skills Development Council and former chairman of the Murugappa Group, proposed a two-pronged approach.

He felt school education should go back to the traditional Gurukul format which promotes holistic personality growth. Higher education should follow the German vocational model, where a student specialises in the vocational field of his choice immediately after his schooling.

“Any person who spends at least 10,000 hours pursuing his or her passion will become an expert…We need to create many such experts,” he said.

“The biggest graveyard is pilot projects,” felt Y.S. Rajan, a principal adviser to the CII on education.

“All initiatives need to be scaleable, so that they can reach a wider mass and also be self-sustainable beyond the project period.”

“Certification is not the only answer,” warned the CBSE regional officer Nagaraju N. “Many schools have certification, but they are still mediocre…We need a better definition of quality.”

The sessions during the two-day summit bring educationists, NGOs and industrialists to showcase viable models to scale up quality education. An exhibition centre also presents some of the technology and solutions available in this quest.