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Seeking Expansion of Education!

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By Roli S
As India enters its 75th Year of Independence, all I can think of is how far we have come as a nation in the field of education during these over seven decades. By the way, are we not aware of our golden heritage in education and the folklore of our traditional gurukul education system? The same system that we largely lost during British rule, as we are made to understand and believe.

Seventy-four years are lot of time to at least look like regaining the seat of India as the centre of learning and growth in the world, but have we really made any kind of progress despite all the advancement in technology and outlook?

After independence, for the first thirty to forty years, our structured schools and higher education in India were aligned to serve the industrial era work opportunities that were created the world over by the developed western nations. To meet this need, professional education and work opportunities were available to a select few and that, too, in English medium; while the larger part of the population of India learnt from life and indirect means instead of schools and colleges and grew far from their potential.

To meet the same demand of the industry, the fundamental brilliance of many generations found their way to growth via a network of coaching institutes that came up everywhere, run by education entrepreneurs who apparently brought out the best of talent in our country to the fore, thus making every school and college going student of India an aspiring engineer or doctor, as if this was the ultimate goal of education.

Though the coaching and tutoring industry provided the structure that regular education could not, but this made our children live two lives, one at school and the other learning out of school to really grow and make a career. Even though in the last decade a lot of democratisation of learning and growth opportunities has been seen across all professional domains and the education system, actively revamping and bringing equal importance to all elements of modern education, digital learning, life skills and self-awareness for the holistic human development, but a colossal gap still exists. An extremely large imbalance and inequality in delivering a useful and effective education to the young citizen of India, stares questioningly at all the stakeholders involved in improving the structure of the education system.

NEP 2020 has come as a godsend at the most opportune moment in the history of free India. Literally to shake up and wake up the right-minded people who wish to see India’s young population find its true purpose in life and turn into an advantage for India as a nation.

The next seventy-five years of the education system in India, with its enormous digital content and tools available, must structure, curate and connect to experiential learning and skill-powered growth for the benefit of the country.

With the changes happening in the mindset and lifestyles due to deadly pandemic, we must work together on holistic education and integrating back the spiritual and human essence to the education system of India.

Immediately, the next decade could be one of inclusive growth, of bringing equal learning opportunities to every corner of India and in every language of India, leaving aside all barriers to learning, ensuring that all our students have access to digital learning in the language of their choice.

The inclusion of rural India into mainstream quality learning may very well drive the next stage of evolution for the education sector.

Education is not merely learning of facts; it is training our mind to think. Education systems must provide opportunities to each and every individual to learn through experience and should help to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Education is a journey, and on its way to the future it focuses on learning with technology. With technology, education will be a learner-based system, for the learner and by the learner. It will be skill-based learning which meets the individual learner’s need.

The system of Gurukuls began around the third century BCE. In the ancient education system in India, people were taught as per the skills required for their development. Today, with the integration of technology the blended system of education provides better avenues of understanding the concept. Additionally, it helps learners to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Digital learning has converted teachers into facilitators who provide learners all possible resources. In the time of the Pandemic, technology was the saviour, even though little over eleven percent of the schools in India were truly equipped for online learning. Even so, today’s education system has the potential to develop a skilled future generation.

Swami Vivekananda rightly said: “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already existing.” We are a long way to achieving the education envisaged by Swami Vivekananda but, in the past few years, the Indian Education system has shown the will to change a lot, and recent policies on digitalisation in education have the potential to transform the centuries’ old biases, the social shifts and economic and technological discoveries.

(Roli S is an Educator, Teacher Trainer, Author and School Reviewer based in Thane.)