The Union HRD Minister, Prakash Javadekar addressed Jagranjosh.com’s Education Forum in New Delhi. The honourable minister delivered the keynote address for Jagranjosh.com’s Education Forum held at Taj Diplomatic Enclave, New Delhi.
Mr Javadekar said that the Government of India realises the potential of digital technology and the positive change it can bring about in the education sector. Using digital platforms and applications, the MHRD aims to empower the education sector and make it more accessible and affordable for the students. He also shared that on the lines of PM Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ mantra, his ministry has taken up ‘Sabko Shiksha, Acchi Shiksha’ movement as their mission to transform education.
He said that the challenges that face India’s higher education sector need to be addressed right at the school level, as a strong foundation is the key to a student’s success in higher education. He said that the MHRD has taken several steps to improve the condition of the government schools at a rapid pace.
The minister said that in order to move away from the rote learning which is prevalent in government schools, the MHRD has launched a ‘Learning Outcomes’ programme under which the learning of a student will be tracked on a regular basis. The programme will also define what a student must learn and what should be the final outcome of that learning. This programme is aimed at improving the quality of education and making it more meaningful and useful for the students.
The second step that Mr Javadekar highlighted, aimed at improving the quality of education in government schools through the re-introduction of exams for Class 5 to Class 8 students. In the absence of a proper testing mechanism, teachers and students have become complacent about the learning process. Reintroduction of exams at the primary school level will also ensure accountability of teachers. On similar lines, the government has decided to make Class 10 Board Exams compulsory for all the students from this year. The ministry has also ended the CBSE marks moderation policy as a move to enhance the quality of education in the board exams.
Taking about the Swayam Programme – India’s 1st Open Learning Platform, the minister said the government is committed to the use of digital technology and platforms to transform education and address the needs of the students. He said the Swayam platform is built on the concept of ‘Any Time Learning’ which makes learning fun, giving students the option of flexible timings. The minister also shared that with over 600+ online learning courses and 20 lakh registered users, which includes over 15 lakh teachers, the Swayam Programme is the world’s fastest-growing open education platform.
Stressing upon the need to give students the power to follow their dreams and passions, the honourable minister said that the government is also in the process of ‘Rationalization the Syllabus’. Currently, due to the extent of the syllabus that needs to be covered during the classroom training, teachers tend to ignore other aspects of learning in which students need grooming. Rationalization of the syllabus is expected to help India’s education sector move away from rote learning and help students develop interests in other activities such as physical education, value education and experiential learning for their holistic development. In addition to this, the minister also called upon teachers and educators to groom creative skills in the students which will go a long way in building a bright career ahead.
Emphasising that the education sector is the joint responsibility of different stakeholders, i.e., the government, educationists, parents and students, the honourable minister suggested that quality and autonomy are the two pillars that will drive the future of higher education.
To this end, the government of India has taken a revolutionary step of granting graded autonomy to over 60 higher education institutes, who have a NAAC accreditation score of 3.2 and above. Sharing the details of this historic step, Mr Javadekar said that the institutes that have been granted academic autonomy include 52 Universities i.e. 5 central universities, 21 state universities, 24 deemed universities, and 2 private universities. The move is expected to give more power and authority to the educational institutes to provide quality education to the students.
Apart from this, he also shared that India’s premier B-schools, i.e., IIMs have already been granted academic autonomy and applications from 20 other institutes of higher education are under consideration for the grant of graded autonomy. The minister also termed the government’s decision of granting autonomy to higher education as ‘Liberalization of Education’. He also said that the government has setup several incubation centres for start-ups and innovation centres to aid the growth of higher education in India. He also highlighted innovative measures such as ‘Hackathon’ through which government is trying to develop interests of the students towards new and upcoming fields of education.
Reiterating the government’s support to the education sector, the minister said that the Modi government has hiked the education budget 1.5 times. From the increased budget, Rs. 1 lakh crore has been set aside which will be infused in the higher education sector through the Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA). The funds will be primarily used to setup and update research infrastructure across India. To promote research and innovation in India, especially for doctoral scholars, the government has launched Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMFR) scheme. The PMFR scheme is intended to curb brain drain and promote brain gain in the country.
Summarizing his address, Mr Javadekar said that the transformation of education for a better India is only possible if all the stakeholders, including educationists, focus their efforts on providing quality education to the students, drive research and innovation, use autonomy to their advantage and be accountable towards the needs of the students, society and the country at large. In his concluding remarks, he said that transformation of India is only possible through transformation of education and invited all to be a part of this reformative journey.