The year 2020 has been a historical year for quite an unforgettable pandemic that has led to a monumental change in the existing process and composition of orders in every other system and the education system is no exception to the effecting change brought forward by the global pandemic.
The commencement of a year has encouraged the endeavour to drive positive, sustainable, and inclusive change to the global education system. And to bring inclusive and positive change to our education system, The Policy Times collaboration with, Shiv Nadar University, an institution for eminence in the education field organized World Education Conference 2021. It is a three-day-long event that is being organized on 15-17th January 2021 from 2 pm-8 pm through Zoom.
The second day of the World Education Conference 2021 was divided into four sessions followed by an excellent inauguration session with ‘Face-to-Face with Shri. S Rajen Singh, Education Minister of Manipur’ gracing WEC 2021 as Chief Guest discussing “Educational Challenges and Possibilities in Northeast Today: Collaborations Possible Ahead”.
This year has seen a monumental adaptation of digital education and this has ensured a plethora of chain reactions. The digital medium has no doubt bridged the gap of communication that the global pandemic has caused and this session discussed how we could leverage digital disruption for sustainable, productive, equitable and inclusive education in 2021. The first Plenary Session of the day was on the topic “Digital Disruption in Education” from 3 pm- 4:15 pm through Zoom.
This session was Chaired by Prof KG Suresh, Vice-Chancellor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi University and he started with deep insight that though we have adapted with digital interaction as the new normal people are still quite not settled within the digital culture for better and widespread digital adaptation we need to cultivate the right mindset in people. The session saw a discussion by some of the key figures dealing with digital education and digital advancement.
The session saw a discussion by some of the key figures dealing with digital education and digital advancement like Shri Thiru Santosh K. Misra, IAS, CEO, Commissionerate of e-Governance, Government of Tamil Nadu has ardently emphasized that digital medium has democratized education and widened the access to quality content among all. The digital medium has allowed people accessibility freedom as far as education is concerned.
Mr Rechard Rekhy, Board Member, KPMG Dubai & Former CEO, KPMG India, rightly pointed out that digital disruption is not an issue that has started only after the pandemic but it has been advancing on us way before the pandemic. Covid has only accelerated digital disruption, every big change has brought huge disruption and covid 19 has been the biggest challenge of last year that has challenged the preparedness of both industry and education to cope with change. He said, “Today’s world is volatile and ever-changing and to weather the change we must align ourselves with the way of the world as it happens”. The industry and academia correlation can only happen if both align with each other in a positive way and people of both the spectrum are ready to orient with the latest change in both the spectrum.
Mr Kothandaraman Sridharan, CEO – Clever Insight Pvt Ltd, San Jose, CA, USA, strongly believes that to exist in today’s world every sector of life must embrace technology or their existence will be shadowed by digital presence. Quoting his speech, “Digital and technological advances are happening by leaps and bounds and it is going to change the world in a positive way if we could regulate it properly otherwise it might backfire”.
The key areas he pointed out that could make a digital presence in education an evolutionary approach are being mindful of cybersecurity, augmented reality is going to make an unprecedented headway in practical education,game-based participative education and assessment based customization of education. Student, parents, NGO’s, education institute, corporate companies are the five stakeholders if sensitized, connected and aligned properly could mitigate digital divide and revolutionalize education.
Mr Tabrez Ahmad, Group Director, Government Affairs & Public Policy, Dell Technologies, highlighted a highly valued point that to apply technology amongst the mass we must have a cautious understanding of technology and deliberate on a few key points like ethics, content creation, consumption and how the communication to people about the technology or medium has been happening to reach mass education via the digital medium.
Mr Avik Dey, President & Business Head – Chancellor Cell, Adamas University, India deliberated on the abrupt shift of little online and mostly offline teaching model to totally online education model and all the adaptation that has taken from two major key stakeholders of education mainly faculty and teacher. Though online has become the new norm a blended model where online and offline mode greatly complement each other is the need of current time suited to the capacity of stakeholders in education and nature of the content. Mr Supreeth Nagaraju, Head Education, Digital Media – India & South Asia, Adobe, highlighted proper inspiration and touching human emotion being the innovative key point to digital education adaptation.
Mr Moorthy, Chief Operating Officer, ITeltronics Pvt. Ltd. Plc, urged for innovation of personal touch via technology to actually bring a positive adaptation of digital medium in the education field.
The second plenary session of the day was on “Grassroot Education Providers and Their Best Practices” from 4:30 pm-5:45 pm. This session was chaired by Mr Salman Ahmed, Co-Founder, The Policy Times. Education no doubt is the essence of building blocks of human life from the very young age or grassroots levels and grassroots education nowadays is no more about plain knowledge installation but preparing them for life ahead. Knowledge these days are not constant but a changing tide and the main task for grassroots educators are to train the young mind to be lifelong learners so they are ready to adapt to any change.
The speakers came from a broad spectrum of society but all of them has their own glorious tale of contribution towards providing grassroots education to underprivileged children and aiding to achieve quality grassroots education for all.
The eminent speakers of this session were Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, Chairperson, BRAC Bangladesh&Executive Chairman, Power and Participation Research Centre, Bangladesh, brought forward an insightful thought that underlined this pandemic underlined a fault in Indian education system present long before covid. A lot of pedagogy innovation like the usage of already present technology like community radio, non-smartphone conference call lesson among others has helped BRAC Bangladesh largely to reach marginalized children in the time of pandemic and before also. He strongly urged, “We need to deliberate on the fault line brought to light by the pandemic and re-imagine education as a larger experience than isolated content delivery”.
Mr Shisir Khanal, Founder and CEO, Nitishala Nepal; Advisor, Tulsipur Sub-Metropolitan City; Co-founder, PickNDrop & Co-founder, Teach For Nepal, really shared an eye-opening picture of Nepal’s education. Nepal has great accessibility to elementary education but only probably 10-%13% of people availing elementary education can reach to higher education. The major issue behind this was the unpreparedness of these pupils to their curriculum and lack of a trained teacher. But since last 2015 the education authority has been decentralized to city governance level and that has helped non-profit bodies like Teach For Nepal to reach more people via connection of this local authority. This really brought a change but pandemic has halted work as the majority of Nepal mainly in a rural area did not have the basic technological infrastructure.
Mr Atul Singh, Vice President – CSR, Emami Ltd, discussed a few of Emami’s brilliant initiatives like school development, skill development, pedagogy training, parent training etc to bring all the stakeholders of education and train them to make teaching more participative and for students to take more interest in it. Mr Saurabh Rai, National Coordinator-Schools 2030, Aga Khan Foundation India, shared a prevalent problem for online teaching for kids are that it is not engaging and in a situation where kids are home and communication with schools is cut and only bridge between student and teacher is the parent so the important thing is to bring the parent into the communication line of student-teacher for better reception by children.
Mr Babar Ali, who was toted as “Youngest Headmaster in the World” by BBC in Oct 2009 and since then achieved several other accolades for his tireless attempt to provide education to underprivileged children. The whole philosophy behind of his pedagogy is textbook cannot be the only medium of schooling, development of common values, igniting innovative spirit and wide awareness of modern world a rich lesson for education providers across the globe.
The third plenary session of the conference was on the topic of “Women in Education” from 5:45 pm-7:00 pm. This session was Chaired by Prof. Roshee Lamichhane, Assistant Professor, Kathmandu University School of Management, Nepal and the Chief Guest of this session was Prof. (Dr) Najma Akhtar, Vice-Chancellor, Jamia Millia Islamia (Central University).
The topic of this session was a recurring topic discussed many time but the necessity to re-visit this issue once again to find a flexible and time appropriate solution to the issue as we start afresh after a truly chaotic time brought out by the global pandemic. Prof. (Dr) Najma Akhtar took us in a quite an informative journey on the status of women education with India on a focus through hard and proven global statistics. She laid a statistical story of gender disparity in literacy and how government intervention, policy initiative, women role model or women representation in education, encouragement of women in STEM courses and concerted effort from all front could contribute to mitigating such gaping gender disparity in education especially in higher education and contribute to the general development of nation and world.
Prof. Amila Jayarathne, Head, Department of Marketing Management, Faculty of Management Studies, University of Sri Jayaewardenepura, Sri Lanka, pointed towards though Srilanka has less gender disparity than other South Asian countries. Free education policy, free school accessories, free university education has encouraged gender equality in Srilanka but better policies and converted acceptance of females in the job sector could perfect the situation for Sri Lanka.
Prof. Veera Gupta, Professor, National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), from her experience suggested policy loopholes, policy pronouncement(like 6% GDP is allocated to education but how much of that is allocated to address gender inequality in education) policy and accountability, proper budget or equity allocated to equality issue, policy gap between the jurisdiction body and authority body to be some of the contributors to gender inequality in education.
Dr Vasudha Prakash, Founder-Director – V-Excel Educational Trust, who reiterated that education should be tailored to the changing need of children and we must revisit the goal of education to eliminate the gender identity of the recipient of education. The other eminent speakers were Dr Sushan Acharya, Associate Professor, Central Department of Education, Tribhuvan University, Nepal, Ms Lena Deros, Expert in Global Philosophy, Founder President of Omnilink; an EU boutique investment bank, Associate Publisher, New Europe whose strong emphasis on the point that women are fundamentally different from men has to be taken into account when we are talking about women education.
The fourth and last plenary session of the day was on the topic of “Framework for Safe Campus and Curriculum Rationalization” from 7:00 pm-8:15 pm. This session was chaired by Shri. Gaur Hari Khanra, National Resource Person (Trainer Development Program), Government of India.
Dr Biswajit Saha, Director (Training & Skill Education), CBSE, shared how the student can indulge in digital education keeping in mind the difficulties and challenges behind it. He highlighted on individual behaviour which students need to be taught. He said, “Our focus should be a rationalization of the curriculum in terms of actual requirement. What we need to see is the requirement of a university education should match with the school curriculum delivery mechanisms”. Dr Saha also mentioned about syllabus rationalization which is very important for a competitive assessment for a university. Dr Suresh Kumar Soni, Hon’ble Chairman, Himachal Pradesh Board of School Education (HPBoSE) MHRD, shared his insight on NEP, which is going to put a positive effect on both school and university students. He also highlighted some valuable points on the education system.
Dr Mahua Das, President, W.B. Council of H.S. Education, Government of West Bengal, enlightened us with her valuable remarks on how all education boards are working and preparing for post covid opening. She also talked about vocational training of each student which is very much needed for a student to have a practical experience that will help them to take part in internships and placement in future.
The speakers of this session were Dr Ronald Kovach, Executive Director, American International Accreditation Association of Schools and Colleges (AIAASC) kept his point very short and comprehensive. Mainly he addressed many issues such as the digital divide during this covid time, education gaps, and inequality around the world. He said, “Reflection is the key, and students need an opportunity to reflect to engage a research to learn to how to learn.”
The second day of the event was wrapped up on a truly insightful note pertaining to the issues of a current hurdle to restarting safe educational environment and standardizing our curriculum that of modern time that prepares the student for modern time.
This educational conference was supported by educational institutes and several other organizations across India and it was only realized to the way it was conducted by all of their humble co-operation. The proud partners of WEC 2021 are East India’s best private university – Adamas University, Kolkata; Haryana’s best engineering college – Mewat Engineering College; Best technical institute of Malegaon – Maulana Mukhtar Ahmad Nadvi Technical Campus (MMANTC), one of India’s philanthropic business families – Hamdard National Foundation (HECA) and Business & Employment Bureau (BEB Delhi) supported by Hamdard National Foundation (HECA), Rajasthan’s Sunrise University in Alwar, Al-Ameen Mission; empowering poor and backward minority section of the society; education innovator, Smart Study Platform, Board Room Solutions providers – iTeltronics Pvt Ltd, a leading manufacturer, packager, marketer of incense sticks and perfumes in India – Rocket Agarbatty Company and Anees Classes which has been providing Education Service to thousands of students for over 29 years