Transforming Indian Education – UPSC GS2

Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN)
  • Launched by MHRD
  • To enlarge and deepen the interface between India’s institutions of higher learning and globally recognized institutions
  • Under the programme faculty from abroad will visit and interact and partner with their counterpart and students in India and deliver specialized coursework
  • a Pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in ten technology domains relevant to India
  • The objectives of this initiative is to
    1. identify areas of immediate relevance to society requiring innovation,
    2. direct scientific research into identified areas,
    3. ensure higher funding support for research into these areas and
    4. measure outcomes of the research effort with reference to impact on the standard of living in the rural/urban areas.
  • IMPRINT India will focus on ten themes with each to be coordinated by one IIT/IISc, namely:- Health Care, Computer Science and ICT, Advance Materials, Water Resources and River systems, Sustainable Urban Design, Defence, Manufacturing, Nano-technology Hardware, Environmental Science and Climate Change and Energy Security.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.
Transforming Indian School Education: Policy Concerns and Priorities
India embarked on the task of transforming the elitist system of education inherited from the colonial past into one that is mass based and built on principles of equality and social justice. In last six decades, India has witnessed several significant policy measures resulting in remarkable progress as reflected in near universal enrolment of children in schools. Constitutional amendment of 2009 made education a Fundamental Right and adoption of the corresponding Right to Education Act by the Indian Parliament in 2009. The country has also embarked on the ambitious path of making secondary education universal and ensuring equitable access to higher education for all. Having achieved near universal enrolment of children in elementary stage and enormous expansion of access to education at all levels the focus now is to provide quality education at all levels.
Steps in school education critically needed for further progress in provision of quality education for all:
  • Moving Towards Consolidation: move towards new framework for establishing new  schools as well as combining the existing ones to create academically viable to provide  quality infrastructure and academic facilities like library, laboratory and so on.
  • Primary School: Too Late to Begin Education? Learning starts well before the formal entry of the child to the primary school. Benefits of pre-primary education are carried over to primary school. Institutional support for children before the school age has gained considerable attention in recent years, particularly with respect to health and nutrition programmes.
    Working Children’s Issues Engagement of small children in remunerative labour severely affects their education. Main approach should be to create such conditions that enable parents to send their children to school. Mere advocacy on banning child labour is not enough. It is essential to design policies that help delineate concrete alternate programmes of education which effectively take children out of work.
    Investing in Teacher: Investing for the Future Recent Teacher Eligibility Tests have revealed that a large proportion of the teacher-aspirants do not qualify despite having requisite academic and professional degrees. This highlights the poor quality of the aspirants who seek to enter the teaching profession. We need to develop a proper policy on professional development of the school teacher. Such a policy should incorporate several critical elements such as subject matter upgradation and use of ICT.
  • Reshaping the Gender Discourse in Education Though positive change is visible in recent years in terms of decreasing gender gap in school enrolment across all states we need to do more. Several factors seem to be impeding the education of girls. Girls are doubly affected by the absence of effective early childhood education programmes as they are invariably burdened with the responsibility of caring for the younger siblings. Distance norms for opening middle schools work against the interest of girls as often they are not allowed to go out of the village for schooling. Further, provision of basic infrastructure and women teachers in the school could considerably influence the situation. Several programmes have been launched including the more recent ‘Beti bachao, Beti padhao’ programme. Yet it is necessary to formulate a more comprehensive policy for girls’ education that goes beyond the school years and shift the focus from mere parity to gender equality.
  • ICT and School Education We have to move beyond the current paradigm of supplying hardware and proprietary software to schools and embed ICT into all aspects of school life. In present information society effective and proper usage of ICT and its integration into learning experience is a must.
  • Learning Achievement to be the Primary Focus: Learning is at the centre of all educational processes. Poor learning levels act doubly against the interest of the marginalised groups. Two broad sets of factors that cause inequity in quality have to be recognized and dealt with, namely, inequality of provision of quality schools and secondly inequitable practices and discrimination within schools.
  • Refocusing the Curriculum Debate: Curriculum is critical determining the quality of education imparted.
  • Engaging the Civil Society and Private Sector- New Framework: Generally, the efforts by the three stakeholders, namely, the Government, NGOs and Private entities have been viewed as three distinct compartments. It is time that a comprehensive policy is framed to find common ground and propose a framework in which the Government, the NGOs and the private schools occupy common public space of education in a mutually supportive fashion and not occupy exclusive domains that divide.

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