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With educational institutions shutting down during the pandemic, online platforms supported by edtech start-ups bailed out scores of students by helping them maintain continuity in education, though technology was earlier used only as a supplementary form of education.

The inclusion of online learning and participation of edtech companies in the National Education Policy 2020 will be a huge boost to India’s growth story. So far, the country has been plagued by issues like infrastructure, electricity, accessibility, and Internet connectivity among others.

India spends nearly 4.6% of its GDP on education, much less than most of the G20 nations and doesn’t meet the aspirational value of Indian students. Now, with students being unable to travel to colleges abroad, the country will have to build world class resources for them to access.

How can India adapt global best practices to strengthen its grassroots infrastructure? For India to become a world superpower, education will be the catalyst along with the opportunities provided by industries. There are five areas where a public-private partnership can help make the education system robust, transparent, inexpensive and accessible to all.

Central repository for records: This should be one of the biggest exercises India should undertake in the education sector, where all academic records are stored in a single repository. This will ensure greater transparency in the education system, better monitoring of institutions and degrees, and help authenticate information instantly. To enable this, data infrastructure centres will have to be set up locally and a robust online framework with heightened security features will have to be put in place.

Better connectivity: Investment in research infrastructure and uninterrupted high-speed Internet access are among the reasons for the success of western countries. India should also invest in the same across the country and be driven by a satellite-linked Internet system. The government should also ensure zero load shedding by investing in renewable energy resources, which are both viable and self-sustaining.

Create remote learning and research centres: India should take a cue from countries like Australia and New Zealand and create remote learning or cluster centres of well-established schools, colleges and universities at the micro-level. The IIMs and IITs are among the most successful examples in ensuring quality irrespective of location. This will ensure that the local student population increases its aspirational quotient and, in turn, ensures a high per capita income.

Develop international standard teaching: Indian teachers, however versatile, are limited by opportunities and are highly underpaid. Teaching should be one of the highest paid professions in the country. The government, in collaboration with the industrial sector, must invest in continuous skill enhancement and training to bring our teachers on a par with global standards. This will also help reduce ‘brain drain’ and enable India to merge as one of the bigger education hubs.

Regulatory framework for innovation: Universities across Asia, Europe and the U.S. are known for the credibility of their academic research and innovation. The government must formulate a reform-oriented regulatory framework to allow innovation and new models where the focus can shift from pedantic degrees to practical and need-based learning. Increased focus on apprenticeship will help aspiring youth find livelihood options.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal

The writer is the Chairman of Ampersand Group and an educationist, an edu-tech entrepreneur and an expert in the global and Indian education policy landscape.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2021 7:08:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/a-robust-education-system-is-needed-for-india-is-to-re-establish-itself-as-a-knowledge-hub/article32302001.ece

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