An average person in India would define ‘Design’ as something related to beauty, aesthetics, decoration or piece of art. It is much beyond that, Kshitiz Anand explains.

“It is a wholesome solution for a need. It is an answer to some problem. It is something that betters the is an integral part of any design..”

The Design Village hosted a discussion which emphasized on many aspects of Design Education in India. About 15 participants, mainly from education contributed their views. Issues like Design Paedagogy, Curriculum, Education – Industry connection, Upgradation of teachers, Teaching and Learning environment was also discussed. Kshitiz Anand moderated the discussion and many questions which ranged from fundamental question like ‘what defines design education in India?’ to advanced questions on entrepreneurial spirit among students..,  sparked intriguing debate among the participants.

Design Education In India

Informal discussion at The Design Village, Noida

Below, I am sharing my views on the discussion, and, i would welcome your comments and feedback on the same.

1. Elitist Approach of Design Institutions

At present Design Education is accessible to only upper strata of the society. It was argued during the discussion that due to high costs of running the institutions, the fee cannot be lowered. In that case, what are the steps that these institutes shall take to ensure that Design Education reaches masses. Some of the solutions that were put forth were

  • Conducting workshops (on Design Education) at primary schools both in urban and rural setups.
  • Introducing ‘Design’ at a very primary level at schools, like in third or fourth standards

My personal view is that, this elitist approach is not going to go away easily and education is going to be much costlier in near future. I am afraid that this will also widen the gap between rich and poor. And if that happens, Design will continue serve only elite.

2. Job mentality and Degree mentality

Among many students who opt for Design Education there is this ‘Degree mentality’. In India Entrepreneurial  mindset doesn’t easily come and there are many hurdles that entrepreneurs have to face. I am not sure, if apart from MBA curriculum any other curriculum talks about entrepreneurship.  Thus, job mentality among students is aparent at a larger extent. Institutes must encourage students to create jobs and more partnerships than looking for jobs.

3. Location of Design Schools

Design Schools shall not be restricted to urban settings, efforts should be made to ensure that they come up in ‘rurban’ places as well. unfortunately the talent among children in rural and ‘rurban’ areas is untapped. Above that there is increasing unemployment. Design Institutes in rurban areas will create more entrepreneurs and jobs, in addition, this will also help create more awareness about Design.

4. Curriculum and teachers

This is most important aspect among all. The curriculum must be revised at regular intervals, say every three years. It must be flexible enough to suit the different needs of the students also the location of the institute. Same curriculum cannot work for rural setup and urban setup. Teachers must have enough freedom to tailor the curriculum.

Teachers. Design cannot be taught, it can only be learnt. A batch of students shall not be looked at as one entity, it is many different mind sets, it includes students coming from different background, culture and influences. It is must that teachers are able to connect to each student individually. And to be able to achieve that, teacher – student ratio shall be thoughtfully implemented.

Upgradation of teachers is a very important factor for any education setup. I am aware that many institutes  take steps to ensure the upgradation of teachers and these encourage teachers to participate in conferences, indulge in research and writing and improve upon communication skills.

Concluding, Design Education in India is still at the nascent stage. With the latest announcement from the newly elected Government about NID, there is tremendous hope among design fraternity. Nevertheless, depending completely on the Government is not advisable, institutes individually shall take major steps to create awareness about Design Education in India.