While there is a big expectation in terms of the change that the new education policy will bring, the biggest expectation lies in its execution.
By Kunal Gupta
The current government has been all about execution. Not just bringing new policies and change, they have so far proven to be executors, India needed. From pulling off demonetization to implementing GST, there has been a landmark change in our country’s economic state of affairs. The biggest change, however, that any economy rides on the back of is employment which in turn is significantly dependent on the education system. The Indian education system is a ticking time bomb. Years of neglect, mismanagement, resource crunch, and a general apathy has made sure that there’s a huge gap between education standards of the rural & the urban; government & the private and between Indian and the global.
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There’s a difference of sky and earth when it comes to what the Indian system produces and what the Indian economy demands. This has led to not just unemployment, but has also stunted meaningful wage growth. With so much bowing it down, there’s only one way in which our system could go. Up. And Modi 2.0 has its task cut out.
While there is a big expectation in terms of the change that the new education policy will bring, the biggest expectation lies in its execution. Fortunately, most of these changes require little to no extra funds. All that they require is a mountain of political will and a desire to look beyond the usual five-year cycles.
Enable people to Communicate, Read & Write
Time and again, numerous reports have pointed to the abysmally low reading and writing skills. As recently as 2018, ASER pointed out that slightly more than half of all children enrolled in a class 5 can read at least a standard 2 level text, while all India figure for children in class 3 who are able to do at least subtraction is stagnant at measly 28%.
The bottom line is that time & over, the most important aspect of the education system is to deliver the ability to communicate, read & write, on which multiple abilities & awareness can be built upon. And the new education system should focus primarily on this.
It goes without saying that the first and the foremost job of any democratically elected government in a welfare state is to grant its citizens meaning employment opportunities, for nothing is worth anything without economic liberty. Unfortunately, while the rates of employed youths are actually falling, what is also falling is the growth of meaningful jobs. Many experts in the industry believe that the current lot of educated workforce is too jaded to learn any new skills later in their lives. And this leads to stagnation in the skilled manpower, stunting wages and bringing down productivity.
The 10+2 education has to be made whole & complete by adding skill training from secondary school onwards since the children need to be earning for their households sooner in India & to compete with the global community. The focus must shift on vocational training and first-hand experiences.
Technology Transcending Infrastructure
Technology is the new divider between the past and present government. Technology is the single most important resource. Infrastructure development has been a huge concern in the country and has spread out to almost every sector of the economy in the wake of inefficiencies & corruption. Even basics like clean drinking water, sanitation, classrooms, study infrastructure, physical development activities, ways and means of getting the right teachers, etc have been found wanting over the years. Internet & smartphone penetration could be an answer to grow fast & deliver big.
With the likes of Jio penetrating rural India, it will be a big win if the Government can use this never before available resource to impart education & skill training to increase people’s talents.
Cost of Education can be brought down considerably with technology as it can also replace the need for books and make it affordable for this country to send its kids to school along with increasing audits, teacher training by the best, running virtual classrooms & so on. It will be interesting to see how the new education policy uses that in everyday learning.
Women Education through Internet
A larger proportion of women in the workforce is something that every emerging economy should aspire for. It is important not just for the overall growth and progress but also for the holistic development of the family, for children to learn more from their mothers.
The Internet can take education & skilling inside the homes wherein there is still limited physical movement possible for multiple reasons. This could leapfrog multiple development years from the current state.
As new tools are made available, streams of innovative business models would be created with an open curriculum, engaging students and exposing them to new ideas spread over the globe. All that the government has to do is make sure that this pang of innovation doesn’t get scuttled by the aging bureaucracy and red tapism. India could usher in a golden age with entrepreneurs, efficiencies & ideas coming at the grass root level as have happened in China over the past few decades.
All this requires concerted effort and a vision that believes that it can be done. If the Modi government is able to think beyond the age-old methods and put technology to use to hasten the process of improving ‘real’ literacy rates, the vision of New India would be within our grasp.
The author is founder promoter of Mount Talent Consulting Pvt Ltd.