‘Smriti Irani did a lot to maintain transparency in education’

In an interview with The Education Post, Arun Jagannathan, CEO of Crack Verbal, talks about management education, GMAT, and the new education policy of Narendra Modi government

What’re the factors behind the increase in Executive MBA programs in India?

More and more professionals are realizing the need for management education that would help them fast-track their career path. This trend is aided by the exposure to the western world, where routinely mid-career executives look for executive education.

Why Indian B-Schools are looking at GMAT over CAT for entrance?

Apart from limiting students to taking it just once a year, the CAT is not designed to accurately capture the management potential of a candidate. It was designed to be (largely) a test to differentiate the grain from the chaff for the IIMs. On the other hand, the GMAT is a more scientifically designed test that accurately captures the potential success of a candidate in a management program and beyond.

What has changed in GMAT scores in the last 10 years?

10 years ago, the best GMAT teacher might have been sitting in a different city, and the only way to reach him might have been to travel there. However, today with technology, there has been a level playing field so we see some of our students from smaller towns such as Jalandhar, Vadodara, and Bhilai opting for our online courses.

In terms of the impact of the test-scores, a better-evolved GMAT teaching pedagogy has resulted in better outcomes. The average GMAT score is on the rise. For example scoring 750 out of a possible 800 would have gotten you a 99th percentile 10-years ago, but today it is reduced to a 98th percentile.

Online courses versus classroom programs – which way to go?

This is pretty much a question of personal preference. The student today has the best of both worlds – he can choose to attend a traditional classroom program if he feels he wants the discipline and rigour of a classroom setting. Or he can choose to attend an online program if he prefers the flexibility and personalization of an online course.

Many courses such as the ones offered at CrackVerbal, provide a blended learning model where a student can choose both the classroom and the online model to suit his convenience.

Why young learners want to learn on their mobile phones?

We are spending more time on the mobile than in front of our computers. So the biggest advantage it offers is it is always with us. For a busy professional, preparation might mean stealing sometime from a busy work schedule, or doing a long commute to work. There is no need to do anything – just put on the headphones and consume content. With better internet bandwidth and greater mobile penetration, mobile learning is changing the face of test prep.

What do you think of the new education policy of Central government?

It is really positive that we have an open discussion on the national educational policy, and that the common man has been invited to present his views on this matter. According to me, the top two things are: focus on creating the right environment to promote online education, and internationalisation of higher education so we have more home-grown “Harvards”.

How do you view the policies of Narendra Modi government from an edupreneur’s perspective?

Though Smriti Irani was caught up in a few issues that got the attention of the national media, the fact remains she did a lot to maintain transparency.

For example she released rankings of various centre funded institutions through the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF). I think reaching out to the common man on his inputs on the National Education Policy 2016 has been a huge plus for the government. Important education policy discussions cannot be relegated to a few government officials, and should have the participation of all.

On these two points, I think the Modi government has done very well.

What do you think the immediate priorities of HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar?

Though overall the GST has been welcomed, this would adversely impact the education sector as the tuition fees would be revised to accommodate the new rates. This should be mitigated by providing some relief to students through more loans, and scholarships.

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