Budget 2020 holds significance for several reasons. The timing is such that the government is not under any electoral pressure. India is only a few years away from the commitment made by the Honorable Prime Minister for making India a 5 trillion dollar economy. Education is becoming a significant factor in building long term electoral capital and with an eye on 2024, the Govt should make some long term bets on education.
Compared to other BRIC nations, India’s spend on education as an overall % of budget is abysmally low. India stands at a 3% spend compared to China’s 4%, Brazil’s 5.9% and Russia’s 4.1%. India must increase its expenditure on education. It should also reallocate some of its existing spend on relevant and high impact areas.
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A strong correlation exists between a nation’s innovative capability and its growth. According to Vanguard, The United States constitutes a 55% share of the world’s equity market capitalisation, while India’s share is a meagre 1%. According to recent data from Morgan Stanley, a majority of today’s top 10 American companies (by stock market cap) were not in the top 10 list 10 years ago. These companies grew American economy because they are beacons of innovation. In India, majority of the largest companies are all imitators and fast followers of Western innovation models. The verdict is clear – the Indian education system has to refocus on building skills in innovation and creativity. Recognising this, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 3rd January, called on young scientists of India to “Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper”
Here are my recommendations to boost the education sector.
Change how teaching and learning is conducted in the K-12 sector Introduce progressive teaching methods such as problem based learning, inquiry based learning and experiential learning. These methods help build skills of innovation, complex problem solving, interpersonal skills, growth mindset and resilience. These skills will enhance the ‘life impact’ of India’s youth and future generations. A national mandate that teachers will not lecture for over 50% of the classroom time and instead will teach using progressive teaching methods will help. The government will need to partner with the private sector to create a new generation of teacher training institutes and programs.
Introduce new courses for relevant industries of the future
Our curriculum is excessive in content and is outdated. Outdated portions of the curriculum need to be replaced by new courses that include artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing, robotics, quantum computing, etc. Excessive content in the curriculum needs to be removed so teachers can instead spend time on development of ‘life impact’ skills.
Change the assessment process in the Indian Education System
‘Whatever is assessed is finally taught’. The government needs to modify the existing assessment system and introduce a rubric based assessment system where ‘life impact’ skills are measured. A minimum 33% of assessment weightage should be reserved for such skills. College entrance exams need to be modified to include assessment these vital skills.
Technology to create advanced learning management systems
Sophisticated and artificial intelligence based learning management systems (LMS) need to be deployed across schools in the country that can accurately measure whether cutting edge subjects and ‘life impact’ skills are being taught and learnt. These systems need to accurately report impact of the improvements to the district education officers. Real time data across districts from around the country can be compared and contrasted so that teaching methods can be modified and improved continuously.
Commission research studies
With the changing job landscape and requirements, pioneering experimental research studies need to be commissioned by employing credible agencies. The research needs to evaluate both traditional and progressive teaching methods in terms of their impact on developing ‘life impact’ skills.
By making these changes the government can help realise our collective dream of transforming India so it can become an innovative superpower.
(Author is Sandeep Hooda, Co-Founder, Vega Schools. Views expressed are personal)