The Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) organised an Executive Round Table on Educational Leadership: Re-Defining Quality in Education – Policy & Perspectives, at 10 AM on 7th January 2023, at Hotel Crowne Plaza, Chennai. This Round Table was executed under the leadership of Dr Thangam Meganathan, Chair of the SICCI Education Committee & Chairperson of the Rajalakshmi Group of Institutions. 

SICCI conclave stage

The Honourable Minister for Information Technology, Tamil Nadu, Thiru. Mano Thangaraj graced this occasion. He patiently listened to the presentations delivered by the participants, who were senior decision-makers, and included Chancellors, Vice Chancellors, Directors, Principals from Institutions, and Industry Leaders.

Listening to presentations

Associated with SICCI for many years, now as Chair of the Employability Task Force, I was invited to this executive round table conference.

The welcome address was delivered by Mr V.N. Shivashankar, VP SICCI, Founder, VNS Legal. The theme message was given by Dr Thangam Meganathan, and a special address, by Dr Krishnaswami Srihari, Dean of Thomas J Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science, Binghamton University, SUNY. Professor P.Kaliraj, Former Vice Chancellor of Bharathiar University delivered a talk on educational leadership.

Seven topics relevant to redefining the quality of education were assigned to participants of each table. They were allotted 45 minutes to discuss the topic and to present the top 3 challenges and the solutions.

One participant from each table was nominated to present the summary of the discussion to the audience. The topics were:

  1. Quality
  2. Policies
  3. Employability
  4. Research and Consultancy
  5. Industry Connect
  6. Edutech
  7. Finance
Group Discussion

I was a participant at the table discussing the various challenges affecting the quality of education in our country. All the participants at our table provided valuable inputs on the topic, and the team came up with the following top three challenges;

  1. The need for quality faculty/teaching staff
  2. The need for a quality curriculum
  3. The need for quality infrastructure and an effective learning process

After a long debate, we decided on the top challenge, the need for quality faculty/teachers over the need for a quality curriculum. Irrespective of the curriculum, if the faculty members are passionate about teaching possessing the right skills, knowledge and attitude, the students stand to gain. It is the accountability of the teaching fraternity to update their skills and be knowledgeable about the advancement in their field of study and teaching methodologies. 


Assessment of the skills of faculty members in colleges and universities is imperative. It would help identify and fix the gaps in a phased and processed manner.

The Quality team discussed that, despite many Faculty Development Programs delivered in various institutions, they lacked continuity and relevant skill development for the teaching community. One of the solutions discussed was that the government should create Academies for faculty members, to provide continuous coaching for the teaching staff. Higher pay was also addressed as the need of the hour, to make teaching jobs more attractive.

When discussed on the priority given for qualification over skills for professors and lecturers, a couple of educators from the team pointed out the new initiative launched by the UGC, called the Professor of Practice. As per this initiative, a faculty position can be filled in by industry experts without formal academic qualifications, by those who have the skills and a passion for teaching. 

The non-availability of quality, industry-ready curricula that can help in improving employability for students, was also discussed as a challenge.

One of the participants of our group, questioned the process of education, sharing an example of the CA exams. For this exam, if the candidate fails one paper, they would have to take the whole test again, which includes all the other cleared papers too. The processes in different institutions give importance to the structure and curriculum over skills and learning. Do all academic institutions have the required standard and quality infrastructure to deliver education and learning, providing equal opportunities for students?

It was a pleasure to meet so many leaders from the educational fraternity under one roof. I was happy to have had the privilege to invite Dr Paul Wilson, the Principal of my alma mater, Madras Christian College, to the stage to present his team’s findings on the industry connect. He pointed out the need for two types of content namely the static and dynamic curriculum. He also stated that the accountability to create relevant curricula should be with the industry and not with the institution.

The finance team reiterated increasing the salaries of the teaching staff to improve the quality of education and the need for the Government to create a corpus fund for the same.

I had the opportunity to share the stage with the Honourable Minister of Information Technology, Thiru Mano Thangaraj, Dr Thangam Meghnathan, Dr Lalitha Balakrishnan, Principal of MOP Vaishnav college and Mr Joseph Abraham, Founder and CEO of Startup Atom.

Dr Lalitha Balakrishnan articulated the summary of all topics discussed in the round table conference to help retain some of the key ideas.

The minister, in his chief guest address, emphasized the importance of education in Tamilnadu and how the state has become a hub for education, just like it is a hub for healthcare. He delivered a candid speech about him being a backbencher and how it took over 30 years for him to become an MLA. He differentiated the GDP contribution between Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. He stated that the GDP contribution in Maharashtra was localized to Mumbai and how it was distributed across Tamil Nadu, thereby showing the benefit of education in the state.

Ministers address

There were many thoughts and ideas discussed at the executive round table conference, and listing them all would make this article a lengthy one. Hence, I chose a few key ideas that emerged from this conference and have shared them here.

It was a well-spent Saturday morning, with the bright minds from education discussing the challenges and finding solutions for better education in the country.

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Venkatarama Krishnan B · January 11, 2023 at 7:28 pm

Excellent Summary Sir. Beautifully Narrated. It was very useful for me to retrospect & identify the key challenges & taking relevant actions on the same. The most important point I felt was that the education curriculum for employability lies with the Industry & not with the institute. Thank you so much for sharing.

Kirubakaran C · January 12, 2023 at 12:44 am

Good initiative. Hope the discussions result in actionable items

Jayakumar D · January 12, 2023 at 6:25 am


Jayakumar D · January 12, 2023 at 6:25 am


SN Giri · January 13, 2023 at 9:29 am

Well summarised George. It was as if I too was there participating. The agenda and points discussed are really the need of the hour. Especially passionate teachers and the salary part to them is very important!!
I am sure the finding and solutions would reach the right people to make reforms!!
Best wishes for a glorious 2023.

Jibu Abraham · January 13, 2023 at 12:53 pm

I felt the major thrust should be on the faculty/teachers with continuos training on teaching and making the children an interesting one to come back to school/college/university. Rest all can be followed with industry and experts guidance.

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