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Foreword - Keep Learning To Remain a Part of the Dynamic World

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Learning And Education - An Introduction

What? Again to start Learning! I had my exhaustive schedule of education at the school, the college and later at professional institutes for more than 17 years. Now I am employed and also put in 10 years service. Am I to revert back to the younger years and restart education again. But how long?

You will not pose this question, if you appreciate the difference between education and learning. Education starts when you reach the school-age ( 3 to 5). As it has a beginning it also has an end. But learning has started when you were born and you will continue learning in this world, as long as you exist. Your initial education has opened the doors of your vision and has made you to continuously learn many things thereafter with a rapidity, that it will not be possible for you to do, if you did not have the initial opening of your perception, your capacity to observe critically at things and events, your ability to think and draw inferences, and the analytical curiosity that generates in you when you come across something new or novel. All these fundamental ingredients were secured by you through your initial education. School/College education is the initial capital invested to build your ever expanding knowledge enterprise.

Let us perceive this subject in a different point of view. You have pursued your education for 17 years and now you are in service. But what exactly are the knowledge resources that you depend upon in your activities, in the place of work and in the social circles outside? Much of it, you will agree, is what you have learned outside the school and college, after completing your education. And do you remember the exact particulars (contents) of the knowledge gained in your earlier education, i.e. what all you have studied and learnt with so much effort and spending long years in the school, college etc. It is a fact, that you may not even be able to recall many things that you had studied 'lesson-wise' at the school and much of what you have studied in the college, though you have retained some basic knowledge of the subjects. You will also agree that you are not in a position without a fresh study and preparation to face another examination in the subjects you had already learned and qualified, perhaps learnt creditably with distinction, at your school and college. Much of it has faded and erased form your memory.

Does it mean that the costly education provided to you is not of much utility to you in real life? If you ponder a while, you will agree that this is not so. Whatever you have learned (or you were taught) in the school and college is the real foundation, and what you have learned thereafter is the super-structure put over the foundation. It is that the structure is visible and not the foundation. Education, that you receive in the formative years in your childhood and youth-hood has broadened your vision. It has given you a character, culture and the ability to easily mingle in the elite society. Without education, you will not gain these benefits and without these abilities, you could not learn many things that you consider as valuable resources today. Education is thus a pre-qualification for gaining effective awareness, and assimilating day to day experiences into practical wisdom for reuse and recycle in your life and in the pursuit of your activities. Education has enabled you to understand and learn things in life much faster and more easily. It has changed the quality of your life, and in fact of your very personality and outlook.

The urgent need is that our education system should enlighten citizens from their formative age about the values and importance of an accomplished life in the modern world - an emerging order of things to crystallize in the coming decades of the new millenium, that has ushered the information age and global perspective, that enables the common citizen to look for opportunities to thrive and to prosper on the entire globe.

The education that you have received has sharpened your focus and has enabled you to enter the bigger world of learning. But then it remains at the base. You need to progress further in the knowledge world of the new millenium, you have to carefully prepare for that.

Knowledge that we learn from text books is static, but the real world environment is dynamic. Knowledge has to be kept updated in a changing world, in a world of emerging new values and newer culture and discipline.

It is in this background that Bank officers are placed today.

The Internet and onset of the revolution in information technology has changed the entire facet of business and human life. Sitting at the desk before your computer, it is possible for you to think of the world as the area for your operations. Life is turning electronic, e-governance, e-commerce, e-banking, e-learning, e-mail, electronic chat etc. All these have great impact in the business organizations and business systems of today. In fact Learning is not confined to individuals at large. Today Organizations call themselves as learning organisations

Peter Senge in his popular treatise, The Fifth Discipline, asserts that the leader's role in a learning organisation is to build a shared vision and to challenge the old ways of thinking. Senge argues that leaders are responsible for learning. The importance of this remark, as Senge states, is that "the rate at which organisations learn may become the only sustainable source of competitive advantage." Such a forecast gives cause to look closely at how we do business and to wonder, are we asking the right questions?

If you think in terms more particularly of the situation of banking in India, the need for converting our banking institutions as learning organizations cannot be under emphasized. The different articles appearing in this web-site under the project Indian Banking Today & Tomorrow candidly emphasise this urgent need.

It is apt to mention in this context that the Indian Institute of Bankers has eminently realised the need for advancing professional education for practising bankers. The message of the CEO of the Institute reads as under:

". we thought it emergent to improve the financial management skills of those working in the financial services industry in general and those of the bankers in particular. We also found the need to strengthen the financial advisory/ counseling skills of these people so that investors receive responsible advice.

The Institute has therefore decided upon a three-pronged action plan comprising of high-level Financial Counseling Program in collaboration with the Australian Securities Institute who has been successfully running a similar program in Australia for past many years, a comprehensive Bank Financial Management program in collaboration with the Institute of Canadian Bankers whose program is acclaimed world over, and creating an army of barefoot financial counselors.

The last mentioned agenda is aimed at utilization of the large reservoir of human resources who have left the formal financial sector under the recent voluntary separation scheme and making available the same to the general public, especially to the micro-enterprises and individual investors. The Institute will also organize at periodic intervals programs to upgrade their skills so that the customers get the most up-to-date service."

The Institute has diversified its certification courses to meet comprehensive needs of today's banking. This web site aims at assisting the candidates interested in pursuing learning in the different courses of the Institute. The initial beginning will start with JAIIB.

The articles under 'Management' and 'Finance' are of elementary nature intended for introducing these subjects to the beginners. Bankers finance industry and business, in whose case, the important subjects are finance and management (as banking is deemed part of 'finance'.) An insight knowledge in finance to assess credit-worthiness of entrepreneurs, viability of their projects/enterprises and the ability to assess the management effectiveness of the entrepreneurs are part of the essential pre-requisites for a successful banker. Choose well-managed corporates possessing efficiently managed financial systems, for credit delivery. Promote industry and business, but more than that ensure they are all well-managed, as the global competition in the coming decades is going to be extremely severe. Plan your learning schedule to provide knowledge resources to lead you at the forefront.

Part: 2
How to Organise Study Circles

Continuous Learning is self-learning by employed persons, while still pursuing their existing activities. Such education should be normally relevant to their employment either existing or a new position for which the employee aspires. I will suggest that a group of employees/officers in a centre, interested in a particular course form themselves as a Study Circle to pool joint efforts. Each subject to be specialised by Lead members selected for the subject. Each member should allot specific hours per week (20 to 30 hours) for study. Half (or 35 to 40% at your discretion) the time for the Lead subject, where the lead-member will be responsible to study, prepare study notes, if needed and make a presentation for the benefit of the others. Balance time for the other subjects. Every member would make original reading of the Lead subject from all study material that he can gather. The study circle will meet on alternate days and the Lead member will make a presentation of his subject before others. Similarly he will attend presentation of the other subjects by other members of the Study Circle. Each subject is thus exhaustively and thoroughly studied by one member and the benefit passed on to others through the presentation. He will also submit written notes of his subject to the others. Others will learn from listening to the presentation, and supplementary reading thereafter. There can also be a discussion on points of doubt. Group effort is proved to be powerful and it sets a spirit of competition among each to fare better.

How to make effective presentation.

The web site has good suggestions in this respect. Please move to the web page How to Make Effective Presentation This is for your guidance. The article is exhaustive and exactly not intended for class room presentation of coaching subjects. In fact it is intended for guidance for presentation of topics before senior officers and valued customers. The contents of the article can also be made use to a limited extent for a class room presentation of a teaching subject.

The article is by Mr.Gerard M Blair. Mr.Gerard M Blair is a Senior Lecturer in VLSI Design at the Department of Electrical Engineering, The University of Edinburgh. His book "Starting to Manage: the essential skills" is published by Chartwell-Bratt (UK) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (USA). However Mr.Blair has now left Birmingham University and settled in U.S.A.

More About "Learning Organisations"

An extract about Learning Organizations by David Connell, David J. Connell & Associates is reproduced, as it is very much relevant and pertinent. (David Connell, B.Econ., B.Comm., M.B.A., is President of David J. Connell & Associates, a market consulting company based in Caledon)

"Today's business environment demands that we learn from our experiences. Learning, though, is not limited to individual employees. The organisation as a whole must become a learning system. This concept is growing in importance given the increasing complexity and uncertainty of the business environment. Learning starts by asking simple questions. For example, how were sales last year? What surprised us? What did we do well? And by asking questions about the future: What do we expect over the next twelve months? Are there emerging trends we should plan for? Is now the time to introduce new products? Should we look for new markets? If you are like most people, it won't take long to start feeling overwhelmed soon after you start asking the right questions. The growing list of things to do can be daunting. On the other hand, the prospect of increased sales and the challenge of new markets can energise entrepreneurial spirits. The answers to these questions must not constrain your company's goals. Success is not measured by what a business owner or manager knows. Success comes from improving business performance. In a learning organisation, how the whole system learns is critical to improved performance. How an organisation learns is often described as a living body. There is a constant influx of data, every 'cell' of the organisation acts like a sensor, and the flow of information is constantly circulating.

Creating a learning organisation, then, requires processes and procedures that promote and encourage the flow of information. More importantly, a company's values and culture must foster an attitude that seeks out and embraces new ideas, new information, and new technologies. As these elements come together, they become seamless. The elements are no longer seen as parts, but as a function within the whole system."

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