‘Too few quality maths institutes’

KOLKATA: Schools have lost the competence to identify students talented in science and groom them. This is one of the reasons why fundamental research has not thrown up anything substantial in recent years in India, felt MS Raghunathan, head of the Centre for Mathematics, IIT-Mumbai.
Speaking on the history of Indian mathematics at the Presidency University Global Education Summit on Tuesday, Raghunathan blamed the lack of good schoolteachers for the dearth of talented young scientists in the country. Only a lot more investment in school education can change the situation for the better, he felt.
“A large number of our schoolteachers are not competent. This is true of teachers at all levels. School education is in urgent need of reforms. We need the political will to spend 10 times more on school education. The problem lies in the quality of teachers. School salaries can’t match those offered by other sectors, which is why we don’t have good, competent people. They have also lost respect,” said Raghunathan, a former professor at TIFR.He also rued the lack of top-notch maths institutes in the country. “There are not more than half-a-dozen maths institutes in India, which is unfortunate. Most science and research institutes have poor syllabi. There is a tendency to work in narrow areas, which is why nothing new has been coming up. We need to identify the right people and groom them,” felt the mathematician.
Raghunathan went on to lambast the universities as well. “They are in a shambles and have done nothing notable. The work that comes out of universities is not of a high quality. This can be ascribed to the fact that our intellectuals have turned themselves into interpreters of old stuff rather than trying to work on original subjects,” Raghunathan pointed out.


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