Goa – A Potential Paradise for Education

The opportunities in the field of Information Technology are phenomenal. It is not just because the stock market is again booming. Even during the bad period, the jobs were being created but not at the same rate and, hence, salaries were not increasing at an astonishing rate. It is an error to assume that these opportunities lie only in Computer Engineering or similar courses. We are being constantly reminded that India's future is very bright in the ITES (IT enabled services). As a society, it is not desirable that we produce all students with similar qualification. (Nor is it reasonable to assume that all students will have the same capabilities and can cope with the rigours of the engineering courses.)

It is desirable to offer a variety of courses but the issue before us is that how do we create a cafetaria of options. Once we agree that a variety is desirable, we can look into the constraints and see how we can overcome them.

The first constraint is that the student population of Goa is too small to support an elaborate and varied educational system. However, the strength of Goa is that it is a very hospitable state and tourism is a major industry of Goa. Can we use that somehow? We hear about Medical tourism. Why not education tourism.

For various reasons, the education system in India is not meeting the needs of our people. This is providing major opportunities to foreign Universities to offer attractive educational opportunities for Indians. We should encourage the exchange of students but it should be for reasons other than the absence of opportunities for capable students.

It has been my belief for a long time that the environment of Goa is ideal for higher education. If we aim to create a great University, we can attract many good faculty members and students from across the country (and the world). We can create a interdisciplinary courses which have a very promising future. An example is game programming. In fact, it could be an example of several very distinct courses. A very technical course in this area would require the study of Physics, Mathaematics and Computer Science; while an art oriented course may even be similar to a course in film production but with extensive usage of technology.

The direct benefits of a large visiting student community are very similar to those from tourism. We can even expect an increase in tourism because the parents and relations of the students will use the excuse of their ward being in Goa to take a trip.

Indirect benefits are even more attractive. The IT Vision of Goa is to make this state into a preferred destination for R&D centres. An important factor in creation of R&D centres is the excellence of the local Universities. Hence, the expansion of the higher educational system and the encouragement of R&D centres are mutually supportive of each other. Success in one will encourage success in the other though an excellent university probably comes first. Silicon Valley was directly related to Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley. We will, similarly, find that numerous terrific organisations were formed around MIT and Harvard campuses. We in India rarely hear of Bose Corporation, which was probably the first very successful hi-tech firm set up by an NRI. Prof. Amar G. Bose was a professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT and setup the firm in 1964. Even today, Bose Corporation is the leading firm in acoustics and high quality speakers.

A second indirect benefit is that our students get a chance to study the fields which best fit their capabilities and inclination simply because more options will become available.

A third benefit is that a strong India needs a highly qualified work force. Goa being a small state can take quick decisions and implement innovative educational schemes. If Indian faculty members abroad can create and support excellent educational institutions, there is every reason to believe that we can have many more of educational organisations like the IISc, IIT's, IIM's, The major reason for the success of these institutions has been a well defined goal, freedom and autonomy. There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that Goa can do it provided the same three ingredients are made available to Goa University (and, of course, the examination system radically changed.)