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Opinion

Ensuring access and equity in education, writes Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” – analysis

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In your recent article, Life in the Covid-19 eraPrime Minister Narendra Modi declared that the poor are often beneficiaries of the transformative impact of technology. He said that technology demolishes bureaucratic hierarchies, eliminates intermediaries and accelerates welfare measures. He spoke of technology as a transformer for education.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a series of measures for the education sector as part of the Rs 20 lakh crore economic package, which is intended to re-channel the economy. The key principles behind educational sector reforms are equity and student access. She dedicated herself to adopting innovative study plans and pedagogies, concentrating energies in empty areas, being more inclusive and integrating technology at each stage to boost human capital.

Let’s see the access. When I took office, I focused on the gross enrollment rate (GER) in higher education. Of the total population in the 18-23 age group, which is around 150 million, only 26.3% (37 million) are enrolled in the education system. China, which had the same GER as India in the 1990s, has raised it to 48%. The United States is at 88% and the United Kingdom at 60%. This requires deep introspection. Although we have moved rapidly to increase access in the past six years, I think the tipping point has come. To create a new India and meet the immediate challenge to education posed by coronavirus disease (Covid-19), we need a paradigm shift in how young people can access the education system.

The other foundation on which the ads were based is equity. In a diverse country like India, we have to see how to provide equal opportunities for learning, so that a student in a rural setting gets the same educational material as a student in an urban setting. How can we ensure that the learning outcomes of students in a certain age group or even a certain degree in society are the same?

We have tried to find solutions to improve equity and access during and after the Covid-19 crisis. The Prime Minister has been firmly behind India’s path of progress and development from an information society to a creative one. The government-launched Digital India campaign has led to a digital revolution. Today, India has 504 million active Internet users, more than the population of the United States. Building on the success of Digital India, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) has launched a comprehensive initiative called PM e-Vidya that unifies all efforts related to digital / online / on-air education for further expansion of the e-learning in higher education. education. In other words, we are liberalizing the regulatory framework for open, distance and online education.

Digital learning through PM e-Vidya and Open Distance Learning (ODL) in higher education will create equitable access for teachers by integrating technology into their curriculum for students from different geographies and environments. This will ensure that no child is left intact by the power of technology and education. We view technology as a catalyst to bring equity to society.

The new educational paradigm will take the best of traditional classroom and digital learning to empower students and teachers as described in the new educational policy. Equity is the cornerstone of all educational decisions, ensuring that all students can thrive in the educational system. The equity and inclusion approach will remain common in all schools and higher education. The Ministry of Human Resources Development will continue to ensure equitable access to quality education, with special emphasis on disadvantaged socio-economic groups in all schools and higher education, providing each student with access to the best learning resources and teachers throughout the world. The policy vision includes the following key changes in the current system. One, move toward a higher education system consisting of large multidisciplinary universities and colleges, with at least one in or near each district. Two, the construction of free boarding facilities in the form of shelters. Three, modernizing curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and student support to enhance student experiences in schools and higher education. Four, strengthening open schooling. Five, a substantial increase in scholarships at private / philanthropic universities for disadvantaged and disadvantaged students. Sixth, the creation of a gender inclusion fund. Seven, and most importantly, create a cohort of highly motivated and rigorously trained teachers for all students.

The pandemic has presented new challenges and also opportunities for our educational system. India is ready and equipped to reimagine the future of digital education through PM e-Vidya while addressing the needs and rights of each child’s education. This will mark an era of progress where schools and colleges will be empowered to encourage constant innovation and be more resilient.

Ramesh Pokhriyal “Nishank” is the Union’s Minister of Human Resources Development

The opinions expressed are personal.

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