Education can promote innovation, reduce socioeconomic inequalities, and strengthen institutions. UNESCO believes that education is a human right for all throughout life and that everyone has the right to access quality educational opportunities
National Education Day is celebrated on 11th of November each year. It seeks to enhance and improvise the quality of education for students in the country. The day also commemorates Azad’s contribution to laying the foundation for an independent Indian education system. Moulana Abdul Kalam Azad who was our independent India’s first education minister and contributed significantly to laying the foundation of India’s education system. He was also a strong advocate of universal primary education, girls’ education, free compulsory education for all children under the age of 14, vocational training, and technical education.
The current year’s theme is “changing course, transforming education”. This theme is also look into the reforms in education to promote quality and equitable education under the lenses of inclusion in education.
Further, it is guided to make education to competing with global trends by providing student centric education to meet the emerging trends and to make it more adaptable to the changing scenarios in India.
Every year, a different theme is set by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on Education Day. This implies that, transforming education and changing the course of education to focus on all children learning by introducing innovative and learner friendly environment to reduce education inequalities that shift education systems towards learning progress rather than curriculum completion.
Education stakeholders and donors must support the government to effectively and efficiently improve learning outcomes through various training and mentoring methods. Quality education transforms lives and societies and addresses many equities and social issues. Education is associated with improved life outcomes, including income, health, and opportunity.
Education can promote innovation, reduce socioeconomic inequalities, and strengthen institutions. UNESCO believes that education is a human right for all throughout life and that everyone has the right to access quality educational opportunities.
National Education Policy and SDG 4
National Education Policy’s basic principle is to develop good human beings capable of rational thought and action; having compassion and empathy, courage and resilience, scientific temper, creative imagination with sound ethical values.
It aims at producing engaged, productive and contributing citizens for building an equitable and inclusive society as envisaged by our constitution. However, these dreams are realized once the quality efforts on education are strengthened in the country and it requires lot of reforms in terms of curriculum construction, teacher education and teacher professional development and bring out the children from learning crisis with a child friendly environment as guided by NEP to contribute to sustainable development goal-4.
Sustainable development Goal-4 (SDG 4) is already mandated to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all the children. The goal also mandated that all girls and boys to complete free primary and secondary education by 2030 with equal access to affordable vocational training to eliminate gender and wealth disparities and to achieve universal access to a quality higher education.
It also estimates that, among 1 in 5 of them had dropped out and recent trends suggest that 2 in 5 of out of school children will never set foot in a class room. These challenges are really alarming the governments to take necessary steps to create appropriate avenues for the children to fulfill their dreams and gaining dignified life with quality and inclusion in education.
But the challenges are remained un-solved in terms of learning among children, infrastructure development and disparities in providing equal education to girl children in India. There are 32.9% girl children are dropping out from schools before completing their secondary education as per the UDISE 2017. There are 32 crore children are under learning poverty in India including 15.8 percentage of girls and 16.2 Crores boys due to Covid 19 due to school closure for the last two years as per the report by UNESCO 2020.
On-line education was not given any concreate solution and constructive learning to the children especially children from remote villages with no digital devices & no internet connectivity. Overall availability of computing devices in schools are 22 per cent in India with very less provision of 18 percent in comparison with urban areas are around 43 percent. The facility of internet is available in India is around 19 percent and only 14 percent in rural areas in comparison with urban locations with 42 percent.
Overall children learning scenario is declined and it is alarming the society to open-up the window of strategies to re-equip the children with grade and age-appropriate competencies by working on bridging children learning and re-skilling teacher capacities to build back better with safe back to schools.
Because, Children are unable to read, write and understand even simple text by age at 10 years & it is alarming that, there are low- and middle-income countries are facing learning crisis from 53% to 63% and it may increase and affect the children in many ways.
Recently Ministry of Education-India has released the National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 report and revealed the fact that, an average performance of schools in rural areas remained significantly below in comparison with urban areas. In additional to this, Covid 19 impact on households has been widen the inequalities in education with economic instabilities due to closure of business establishments, reduction in incomes among poor families, migrant and daily wage labourers and obstructed the children education and increased the risk of out of school.
Other hand, the ratio of challenges among girl children are very high in terms of their nutrition status due to non-availability of mid-day meal among school going children and amplified the risk of child marriages. All these challenges have impaled children on multiple fronts including their education, health, nutrition, safety and emotional wellbeing.
Besides to this, young children have missed out on early childhood education in their critical pre-school year. They missed the stimulating and enriching environment, learning opportunities, social interaction and in adequate nutrition in many cases.
The pandemic has also been made children are more vulnerable and pushed into learning crisis and created huge impact on girl child education where around 50% girl children are under the danger zone of school dropouts and fear of child marriages as revealed by The World of India Girls Report-WINGS report-2022 released by Save the Children.
These challenges are increasing day by day and becoming a challenge and it is impacting with un-recoverable loss among future citizens. Learning crisis, new trends in education and global Labour markets are very un-matched situations in the country.
Realize the priorities and work accordingly
For this, governments must realize the priorities and work on quick and implementable actions considering education is an emergency and it must be rolled out across the country by making a common framework with state governments to have a common vision and mission for creating a construction plans for the implementation with adequate resources and make them an autonomous in their approaches. Because, this is the need of the hour and governments to re-work on strategies to build the morale of the parents and students about their future and creating a new way of life for the children by providing special counselling, re-strategizing their curriculum and pedagogy along with creating a safe environment in schools.
In fact, Safe return to schools is one of the important agenda and it is necessary to ensure safe schools by making appropriate infrastructure, child protection measures & adequate facilities to all schools under the lenses of safe back to school under the lenses of home to school and school to home as mandated by NDMA under school safety.
It is necessary to recruit helping hands like qualified and trained un-employed teachers to schools to support the regular teachers on academics for ensuring wellbeing and quality learning in hand in hand for all the children to re-gain the children learning in schools for all the ages.
Government also should think in terms of making tailor made training programmes for skilling the teachers to engage children in accelerated learning interventions to recover the learning loss and strengthen future learning trends.
Apart from this, it is essential to re-look at the student teacher ratio in government schools to address the sudden increase of enrollments in government schools with various reasons to retain them with quality education and adequate infrastructure facilities to create a child friendly environment. The focus on FLN Foundation Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) is also one of the immediate and better option to create a strong foundation among young children from class 1-3 and beyond for re-equipping the skills even in higher class students who have upgraded their classes without any learning due to pandemic with shortening syllabus and assessment method.
To overcome these challenges, it is advised the governments to build the capacities of the teachers for managing the psycho social challenges of the children and ensuring school environments are safe and protected.
Required skills to be imparted to the teachers to engage children in accelerated learning interventions to recover the learning loss and strengthen future learning trends. Also required to encourage parent involvement in learning process to improve future outcomes.
This will only possible by encouraging learning continuity at home with various informal methodologies for ensuring parent engagement in learning through off-line and traditional teaching methods by adopting different strategies for age between 3-6 years and 6-14 along with providing an experiential learning by encouraging STEM and ICT enabled education.
Besides to this, building required skills to the teachers and improving mechanism for providing on-job support to the teachers and bring the local knowledge to the class rooms to acquire life skills for the children. This will become a window of opportunity for children for providing the knowledge beyond textbooks and it creates joyful learning with fun and happiness to address psycho social challenges as mentioned many senior psychologists.