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‘Instruction is not education’

Before forming the World Education Group,Dr Ferrin was President of the Salem International University...

Written by Shalini Rai |
April 14, 2009 5:27:16 am

Dr Richard Ferrin,an educationist with more than 35 years of experience,speaks about how recession is the best time to go back to school,overhauling the Indian educational system and polarities between the Indian and American methods of education

Before forming the World Education Group (WEGroup),Dr Ferrin was President of the Salem International University,which ranked at the third spot in the US in terms of international students in its student body. Currently the President of the Penn Foster College,an international distance learning institution with a strength of 25,000 students,Dr Ferrin says,“Instruction is not education. Education is more interactive,consists of greater involvement.”

An educationist with more than 35 years of experience,Dr Ferrin says,“We are working at helping institutions internationalise education and get involved in more productive working relationships.” He was in town recently to conduct discussions about a collaboration with city-based Overseas Education Consultancy Services. Having served on higher education advisory boards in Singapore and South Korea,Dr Ferrin is currently the President of the US-China Higher Education Alliance,an organisation working towards bringing American and Chinese universities together for dynamic working relationships.

He says it’s the right time to go back to school and acquire certain useful skill sets. “As someone has said,‘When jobs are scarce,people go back to school’. Although the current recession is not going to last more than two years,this is the best time to pursue higher studies and add strength to your CV. By the time the economic crisis is over,those who are currently in school will be well-equipped to take on new jobs,” says Dr Ferrin,who has earned his PhD from the Stanford University. “Say,a student already has a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy and decides to now pursue an MBA in Hospital Administration. By the time he finishes the MBA,he’ll be in a better position than so many other students to be offered a plush job,” he adds.

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Stressing that there is a lot of scope for improvement in the Indian educational system,Dr Ferrin says Indian students are the best in the world when it comes to assimilating knowledge. “However,analysis and application of that knowledge is the real problem area with Indian students. There’s too much of ‘instruction’ in Indian schools and colleges,whereas true education means a healthy exchange of knowledge and ideas. The technical knowledge of Indian students is very strong,but their problem-solving ability needs to be worked upon,” he says. “The opposite is true of the system of education in the US. A healthy balance between the two methods is what is needed. And no educational system is fine ‘as it is’; there’s also scope for improvement,” he adds.

Since 2002,Dr Ferrin has conducted recruitment and program planning trips to India,China,Thailand,Singapore,Malaysia,Taiwan,Hong Kong and Vietnam. “It’s my endeavour to increase student enrolments while instituting cross-cultural,student and faculty exchange programs around the world,” he adds.

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