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December 30, 2019
Education Times looks at the massive transformations in the education sector that impacted the teaching-learning process, and changed students' lives
The last decade has witnessed new paradigms in education, changing the way students engage with courses and content. While the Draft National Educational Policy (NEP) has attempted to bring in a more equitable education system, NCERT is set to revise the curriculum framework, and edtech is disrupting the way students learn and introducing them to blended learning. On the other hand, skilling and entrepreneurship have become the buzzwords of education and infused into the school curriculum and HEIs. The focus overall is on strengthening the innovation ecosystem and making education learner-centric.
We take a look at the key drivers in education and the changes sweeping academia and beyond:
Draft NEP for holistic development
Various aspects of NEP 2019 overlap with the reforms mentioned in the National Curriculum Framework (NCF). Experts say the emphasis must be more on implementation than the introduction of new concepts. "Policymakers need to respond to the structural constraints that obstructed earlier reforms," says Krishna Kumar, former director, National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Salient suggestions of the new policy include transforming the 10+2 system of school education to a new 5+3+3+4 design; renaming the Ministry of Human Resource Development to Ministry of Education, and merging of accreditation bodies such as National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) and National Board of Accreditation (NBA) into National Higher Education Regulatory Authority (NHERA).
The policy also puts emphasis on establishing specialised research universities through National Research Foundation (NRF), which will fund academic research in science and technology, social sciences, arts and humanities.
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Influx of digital learning platforms
With the rise of digital learning, both educators and students have begun emb racing the concept of blended learning. This has paved the way for the emergence of various edtech platforms wherein online courses are offered in collaboration with national/foreign institutions and/or industry players to help students stay market-ready. Its easy accessibility across geographies and affordability has further widened its reach.
"Students look at learning outcomes since they do not want to study a programme that will not yield anything conclusive. With online learning having the right mix of industry and academia, students are becoming more inclined towards it," says Mayank Kumar, CEO and co-founder, upGrad.
However, Yogesh Deshpande, professor, department of Computer Engineering, Vishwakarma University, Pune, says automation cannot replace human interface in classrooms. "Making the learning experience interesting and explaining complicated topics as per the audience can only be possible in a classroom setup in the presence of a teacher."
Smart classrooms to reinforce concepts
"The transition of classrooms from traditional chalk and board to smart ones have made the education system interactive. Technology-enabled classrooms help students visualise," says Rashmi Raj Biswal, principal, DAV Public School, Pushpanjali Enclave, New Delhi.
Poonam Kumar Mendiratta, principal, The Manthan School, Greater Noida West, agrees, saying that the use of multimedia and smart classrooms have helped students improve their learning abilities through recorded lectures and notes. It is a boon to those who need to go through repeated explanations to grasp the concepts.
Entrepreneurship in school curriculum
The idea of infusing entrepreneurship into education has spurred much enthusiasm in the last few years from introducing it in Delhi schools to establishing incubation centres in higher education institutes.
"This testifies that the entrepreneurial education commencing at school level is essential to shape the mind-set of the young learners towards being job creators than being job seekers," says Amita Budhiraja, mentee teacher at Directorate of Education (DoE).
"Initiatives for skill development, Startup India, Digital India are praiseworthy and align with the promotion of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Currently, education in India is not designed to push innovation and entrepreneurship and largely restricted to passive learning. Only now the focus has shifted to giving entrepreneurship education a formal structure by integrating it with the curriculum," says Vimal Daga, director, India Innovation & Entrepreneurship Community.
Bridging the industry-academia gap
India needs to have strong legislations in place to facilitate university-industry linkages (UILs). In the last decade, constraints in research capacity, innovation and low enrolment in PhD programmes has widened the industry-academia gap. "An institutionalised framework for industry-academia connect is needed along with strong government support to improve the country's innovation ecosystem," says DK Aggarwal, president, PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Industry consultation while setting the pedagogy, gaining patents and regular interaction with industry for students' skill development and training will boost placement across institutions and raise students' employability quotient.
"At the institutional level, the gap can be bridged through collaborative learning where industry provides expertise and sponsorship funding to students across programmes and projects," says Bodh Raj Mehta, Dean (R&D) IIT Delhi. Institutes, he says, can also appoint 'professors of practice' where faculty with industry experience can be recruited for a fixed tenure (ranging from 6 months-5 years) to provide courses, lectures and mentorship to students. "Industry-funded startup projects and research in centres of excellence can further strengthen industry-academia ties," he adds.
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