In our interview with the Chairman of Quest Group of Institutions Mr. D.P.S.Sekhon, we talk about the importance of skilled education. This man who is also a founder of Quest Infosys and has been awarded many prestigious awards in the field of education throws a light on the system of education prevalent in Punjab and how it can be improved.
How has been your journey as a Chairman of Quest Group of Institutes?
I would describe my journey as a roller-coaster ride. It has been very challenging and at the same time rewarding. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to have set up a world class institution where new ideas are born every day and dreams are turned into reality. It is a privilege to have set up an institution that has students from more than 20 states of India along with international students from different countries like Nepal, Cameroon, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria etc. It is a very positive feeling to guide students during their most crucial time of their careers.
Success never comes easy. Also, you have mentioned that your journey has been very challenging. Why don’t you talk about the initial years of struggle?
As I didn’t belong to a business family, I started from scratch. It meant that I had no cushion for failures and had to work hard on every aspect of business. I have performed every role in the business like Marketing, Sales, Accounting, HR management, Liasion, Fire Fighting etc. There had been times where I had to struggle hard even to meet my daily needs. But determination and self-belief were my guiding principles at that stage. I believe that was the most important learning time of my life. The lessons I learned during that time couldn’t be learned in school, college or even at home. Today when I face something challenging, I am able to overcome it by the virtue of the skills developed during the initial years of my struggle.
What do you think is the importance of skilled education?
Being associated with development and promotion of skill oriented education for more than 20 years, I think the youth of our country should evaluate their education in terms of skills gained by them.
I have come across hundreds of graduates and post graduates who don’t possess any skill and can, therefore, not start anything in their lives. Even the toppers tend to forget their theoretical courses over the course of time, but the skills they develop remain with them forever. If you are working in an environment that corresponds your skills area, you will never feel the burden of work and that is, according to me, the key to success.
I hope that thrust on skill education will change the existing system of education that focuses on content learning system.
What are your efforts towards imparting skilled education to students?
At Quest Group, we have transformed the lives of thousands of youth with our professional programs which lead to job-oriented skills.
In the year 2000, we started first of its kind Public Private Partnership (PPP) in education in India for offering skill-oriented Post-Graduate Diplomas in E-Commerce Technologies and Post Graduate Diploma in Software Technologies to the students in association with Govt. of Punjab and Punjab Technical University.
In the year 2001, we were instrumental in the launch of highly successful Distance Education Program of Punjab Technical University, which had more than 1.5 lac students across the country benefitting from it by getting a good quality technical education at highly affordable cost. As a founder president of All India PTU DEP Associates, I played an instrumental role in developing the policy and framework for the development of this Program.
Quest Group and its subsidiaries have trained more than 10, 000 students into various job roles defined by NSDC like CNC Operator / Machining Technician, Beauty Therapist, etc.
Is there any field of education where you are making some special contribution?
Although I have been working for the promotion of Technical Education in the region as a whole, but Information Technology is one area which has always been a focus for us. We have been working on IT Education since 1995 when people were not even aware how computers are going to help them in their lives.
Engineering and Technology education is another area where we are contributing a lot our innovative approach to studies. Our students have developed many projects and ideas to solve real life problems being faced by society/industry.
How would you describe the system of Education in Punjab and what can be done to bring it at par with national/international standards?
The system of education in Punjab is no different from most of the other states of India. There are serious problems being faced by the State and one of the major problems is unemployability of the youth.
The problem is deep rooted and starts from the initial years of schooling itself. On one hand, our government spends huge money to run government schools whereas 80-90% of the parents who can afford a little amount of fee also prefer to send their children to Private Schools, even in villages.
A lot of emphases is given on the quantity of learning not the quality of learning, leaving students to rote learning, a habit which most of them cannot shun even when they study professional courses later on in college. The scene is similar in higher education sector.
In my opinion, only Govt. Schools / Colleges or Only Private Schools / Colleges working in isolation and blaming each other is not the solution. Govt. should recognize the efforts of Private Institutions in the effective management of resources and help them to develop their institutions. Instead of spending huge money on opening new Colleges or Schools itself, the Govt. should spend this money offering Scholarships to the needy students so that they can pursue their education at their own choice. Similar incentives should be offered to institutions which offer good quality education so as to encourage the building of a good ecosyste. Even, it will be a win-win situation for everyone.
Finally, I think we must always keep the students in a loop, for whom everything is being worked upon. At present, there is no mechanism in place to have feedback from existing or pass out students about what they felt about the education system and what changes they think should be done for betterment. If we integrate students into the whole process, our policies and their implementation will be much more effective and beneficial for the students. After all, student is the end product out of the education system and all the resources spent are mere wastage if the end product is not good.