The Vice President, M. Venkaiah Naidu today called for harnessing technology to enhance access and quality of learning. Referring to how the pandemic has opened new frontiers for the transmission of knowledge, Naidu said that ‘Digital tools have made learning more engaging and interactive. He called for exploring the new possibilities in technology while also addressing the widening digital divide.
Lauding the contribution of teachers in the country in ensuring continuity of learning during the pandemic, Naidu said that they kept the learning process alive by swiftly shifting to an online mode. “They had kept the learner at the centre of their noble mission and minimized the learning losses”, he added.
Participating in the 10th edition of The New Indian Express’ ‘ThinkEdu’ Conclave in Chennai, Naidu stressed the need for ‘thinking through our vision of education and how we can make our country a ‘learning nation’’.
Referring to the National Education Policy (NEP 2020) as a blueprint to transform the education landscape in India, Naidu stressed the need for holistic education and the opening up of new avenues of employment to the country’s youth. “We must make education more integrated, multi-disciplinary, and relevant”, the Vice President added.
Naidu said that education must become an instrument of national transformation. He said that education should help build citizens who are perceptive, receptive, and communicative, who are thinking and feeling individuals, who have the passion for acquiring knowledge as well as the compassion to use that knowledge for making the world more liveable place.
Touching upon the need to get over ‘colonial hangover’ in education, Naidu stressed that Indian historical figures must be cherished and celebrated and their stories must be included in the school curriculum. ‘The British left a long time ago, but we are still following the Macaulay’s system’, Naidu added.
In this regard, the Vice President observed that education in the mother tongue, at least until the primary level, will boost learning outcomes in children and connect them with their intangible heritage. He also called for using local languages as the language of the administration and judiciary.
Naidu suggested that a ‘focus on ancient systems of knowledge as well contemporary advances like artificial intelligence and the emphasis on skill education is likely to fast track India’s progress towards an ‘assertive country’’.
An ‘assertive nation’ is one that can be built only on the foundation of quality education encompassing a wide knowledge base and a whole range of skills, Naidu reiterated. “Quality education is the most promising pathway to the ‘New India’ we are dreaming of.”
The Vice President noted that the education of the future must ‘build bridges between the world of learning and the world of work’ through entrepreneurship and skill upgradation. He also called for increased interaction with industry and agriculturists to ensure higher innovation and productivity in agriculture.
Referring to India’s demographic advantage, Naidu said that India is at that crucial moment in its development journey when it can derive great dividends and it will be possible if its human resource is given equitable access to quality learning opportunities. He said the government, private sector, and academia as well as media must create platforms to collaborate and achieve the required synergy.
On this occasion, Naidu noted India’s achievements in improving the literacy rate and approaching gender parity in gross enrolment ratios at all levels of education since independence. He said, “We have a lot to celebrate as we have moved from a literacy rate of a mere 18% when we became independent to around 80% today.” Naidu said that India has one of the largest education systems in the world which has produced many stalwarts occupying some of the most coveted leadership positions in various academic, scientific, and corporate bodies in the world.
The Vice President called for redefining the meaning of ‘Vishwa Guru’. He said, “We should set out a road map for building the Shrestha Bharat, Saksham Bharat, Ayushman Bharat, and Atma Nirbhar Bharat we are aspiring for.”
While urging policymakers to focus on the ‘unfinished literacy task’, the Vice President underlined the need to go further and create ‘a learning society’ with equal emphasis on all the four pillars of education enunciated by UNESCO – Learning to Know, Learning to Do, Learning to be and Learning to live together.
Underlining one of the objectives of education as improvement in the quality of life of people, Naidu called upon educationists to ‘foster this process by nurturing talent, recognizing excellence and creating a conducive environment where innovation will thrive’.
Naidu complimented the organizers for adapting the conclave to the digital mode and said that he was impressed by the high quality of discussions and deliberations that took place at this Summit.
Tamil Nadu Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Thiru T. M. Anbarasan, Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy, Lok Sabha MP, Shashi Tharoor, Editorial Director, The New Indian Express, Prabhu Chawla, CEO, The New Indian Express, Lakshmi Menon, and others were present.