We are entering a new decade as India celebrates the 10th anniversary of its Right to Education Act (RTE), which was passed in April 2010. While the RTE has been criticized for its limited focus on governance and learning outcomes, it has been successful in improving access to schooling. The report has also served as a rallying point for a wide range of stakeholders to intervene in the sector.
The country’s learning outcomes remain low, however, as has been well-established by now. In politics, quality concerns around education are rarely a priority. It isn’t possible to ignore these concerns forever, especially when the country is experiencing a human capital crisis, as can be seen from its unemployment statistics. Furthermore, more educated individuals have lower employment rates than those with less valuable degrees. Global Business Coalition for Education’s 2030 Skills Scorecard confirms these concerns – in 2030, India will be the most educated nation in South Asia, but nearly half of them will not have the skills to get a job.
So far, the band-aid response to such crises has been to establish a Ministry of Skilling instead of making more fundamental reforms in school education. To move forward, India must break out of this unstable equilibrium and view education within a broader human capital framework. India’s education sector must take both scale and substance into account in the upcoming decade, addressing the learning problem system-wide while also recalibrating the system’s raison d’être.
- Enhancing administration
Even the most sophisticated education policies and curriculum frameworks have failed to live up to their promise in the past due to weak administration. It is imperative to strengthen the pillars of governance in the education sector. According to Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister and chair of the Global Partnership on Education, “governments must be able to gather a diverse collection of instruments, each playing its own notes, to produce a sound of coherent splendour.” Many states have taken ownership of bringing about large-scale changes in the way education is administered in recent years, including Haryana, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. A common starting point has been the integration of schools in many of these states. Government schools often emerged organically without a coherent strategy, serving just a handful of students, resulting in a large, unwieldy system of schools. With inadequate frontline administration, information gaps, and many faculty vacancies, the state’s ability to manage such a system is limited.
- Evaluation system
It is still the marks that determine children’s future and students are often burdened as a result. Students often underperform due to the pressure of marks. Students should be evaluated on more than just a three-hour exam; they should be evaluated on their classroom participation, their projects, their communication and leadership abilities, and their extracurricular activities. Then and only then will the students give their best and will be evaluated accordingly.
- Introduction of technology
We are living in the era of the fourth industrial revolution. Technology is undergoing a renaissance today, and in an era like this, education and technology cannot be separated. In order for students to not feel alienated by technology in the future, it must be introduced in the early stages of their education. The Indian schools must embrace technology and education with an open heart and pass on the same to the students since it is there, where their future lies.