The National Education Policy was revised in 2016 with the aim to provide:
- Affordable education and lifelong learning
- Skilled workforce
- Strengthen education industry partnership
- Holistic education - literacy, employability and life skills
The Central Government along with its think tank - Niti Aayog has put together ambitious plans to introduce large-scale education reforms to align with "Skill India" and "Digital India" programs. Starting with increasing the overall expenditure estimate to 4%, the government has planned a slew of initiatives and exploring ways to implement technologies in the education sector. Some of the key initiatives are:
Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) scheme: The government allocated Rs 1 lakh crore to transform the infrastructure and systems with focus on government and rural schools and higher education institutions. The RISE scheme plans to invest in various areas such as development of Eklavya Model Residential Schools in remote tribal regions, Ph.D fellowship programs for B.Tech students , improving teacher education, increasing the digital intensity to move gradually from blackboard to digital board and others.
Continuous Teacher training: In one of our previous posts, we laid steps to improve teacher effectiveness by focusing on "Select, Nurture and Incentivize". Some initiatives in that direction are: development of an integrated B.Ed programme for teachers , in service training, investing in technology platforms like Diksha that aid teachers with digital and tech-based teaching solutions and MOOC courses like Swayam.
Project-based and STEAM Learning
In our previous posts, we highlighted the need for the Education sector to focus on STEAM and Project-based Learning. The Indian government has hopped on this bandwagon to develop a culture of thinking, invention and tinkering and doing. This will lead to building future-ready employability skills. Some schemes initiated are:
Atal Tinkering Labs are set up with the objective of "fostering adaptive learning, computational thinking and a design mindset." The vision behind creating these labs is to "Cultivate one Million children in India as Innovators". These labs will give shape to their ideas through hands-on do-it-yourself.
Rashtriya Avhishkar Abhiyan aims to "connect school-based knowledge to life outside school and also make the learning of science and mathematics a joyful and meaningful activity." The RAA is a convergent framework that aims at "nurturing a spirit of inquiry and creativity, love for Science and Mathematics and effective use of technology amongst children and support students with an inclination and talent for these subjects to reach heights of academic excellence and research.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The early adoption of AI and ML will positively impact the growth of an emerging economy such as India. The AIForAll Initiative aims to apply AI in education sector to augment and enhance the learning experience through personalizing learning, predicting the need for student intervention to reduce dropouts or recommend vocational training. In Andhra Pradesh, an application powered by Azure Machine Learning, processes the data of all students to find predictive patterns on school drop out rates. The state education officials used these data insights to identify 19,500 probable dropouts from government schools in Visakhapatnam district for the academic year (2018-19). Programs like YouCode run in India's rural areas, teach AI and Robotics to school children of classes 6 to 8. The growing significance of AI will bring together the tech giants, industry , social sector and the government to develop low-cost, high impact, national level AI based solutions.
The government has realized the enormous potential of a secure, digitized and distributed ledger technology to store extensive amount of records. Project IndiaChain will begin with the digital certification of education degrees starting with batches graduating in 2019. IndiaChain will link to IndiaStack, other government digital identification databases, and the government's digital locker project. This will ensure reduction in fraudulent certificates, enable faster transactions and allow students to access their education proofs online.
Through private public partnerships with tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon and its own GI Cloud, Meghraj, the Indian government is expanding the adoption of cloud services in various sectors to accelerate digital transformation. In education sector, cloud computing is an efficient and cost-effective way to disburse e-learning courses, streamline admission process, run remote classrooms and others. The AWS Educate program in partnership with Andhra Pradesh government plans to build Cloud computing technology skills of students and educators and also provide an opportunity to use these skills via 12 self-paced pathways aligned to labor market trends and workforce needs.
India needs to engage its youth to bring about necessary social innovation in the country. The government has established Smart India Hackathon initiative to promote innovation in the students by encouraging out of the box solutions for common problems faced by the society. In the first edition held in 2017, more than 40,000 students participated to solve more than 600 problems. A grassroots level implementation of such programs will usher in a creative and innovative culture.
- Infrastructure: An efficient power supply system and the fulfillment of promises made by Digital India (digitally powered and knowledge based economy) will lead to digital transformation of education.
- Risk averse culture: The mindset of Parents and educators needs a change and they should move beyond scores and allow development of soft skills and vocational abilities. The mindset change from curriculum learning to holistic learning will require an effort from government as well as educational sector.
- Skill Development: A sincere effort to bridge the gap between learning outcomes and employability will come through strong industry-government partnership.
All eyes are on the National Education Policy in 2019 which is expected to focus on rationalization of school curriculum, address regional inequality, affordability and access to higher education, special attention on language, sports and mathematics and others. The intent of the education policies and initiatives is to provide inclusive quality education and skill development to all and cater to the needs of our emerging economy. The gap between the intent and the results will close with an effective implementation of the above policies.