Education Agenda : 2014 and beyond

Education Agenda for India: in urgent need of Disruptive Innovation !!

As we enter the 4th year of the 2nd decade of the 21st century, we cannot but help notice the rate of emergence of new technologies that are influencing the world of work, and consequently economic transformation for better and worse, echoing the opening lines of A Tale of Two cities: ” It was the best of times, it was the worst of times……”, and calling for Disruptive Innovations in education.

And “education across the life-span for all” is the only way forward, and that too with full force, commitment and conviction. We need to articulate the new learning goals in a globalised inter-connected Knowledge Society, provide for access to the newest technologies, adopt the newer teaching-learning models, implement new assessment methods for evidence of learning acquired,and create new flexible and personalised pathways for learning.
And organise capacity building so that ‘ every learner becomes a self-directed, motivated and accomplished learner’ and ‘every teacher a more effective teacher’.

We have to address the question whether teaching is primarily about transmitting knowledge or about facilitating learning? Probably maintain a balance so that regurgitation of content without its assimilation is not acceptable.

Of course administrative and policy changes would be required. We already have ‘The Right To Education Act’, and free education upto age 14. We have to make it high quality, world class and something to be proud of, by innovation that delivers.

We have to encourage curiosity and deep learning to raise a whole generation of smart learners, thinkers, tinkerers and makers who can demonstrate their value to the world at large.

Democracies have flourished where separation of roles and powers of the executive, judiciary and legislature is maintained. Our present education system is largely based on authority , a desire towards greater centralisation and significant lack of transparency. It has been said that ” as society evolves, it moves from Status to contract” and governance today is described as a social contract. In recent times it is moving to data and algorithms and educational policy too should be driven by data and processes.
So can we have bureaucracy replaced by professional bodies that carry out the task of student and Institutional assessments, maybe a new breed of ‘ educational auditors’. A new set of independent professional educators, much like doctors, lawyers, architects etc. who can educate learners anywhere by leveraging the power of technology, when learners have hand-held access devices and mobile Internet. And within this fold of ‘ independent professional educators’, there will be motivators, coaches, diagnosticians.
The concept of a’ National Testing Service’ was proposed in the 1986 education policy, but was not taken up yet. The damage because of not having done this may have been substantial.
India’s challenge of massive education has been very directly responded to by some of the best Institutions of the world, like MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Yale, the UK Open University and others. Over the last few years, MOOCs ( Massively Open Online Courses) and OERs ( Open Education Resources) have demonstrated their potential to give a high quality education to ‘all who are interested’. There need not be any admission tests and limitation on seats at all, because with adaptive MOOCs, the learning can be personalised, and all can achieve Mastery learning.

The challenge is to break from the past, free oneself from the various constraints operating in the education sector, be data and Analytics driven and benefit from the demographic dividend.
If we do this, then over the next decade we may actually see India at its rightfully expected position in the global economy.

Education is the key, and an investment in education is the best option.

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