Reform Education

Democratise access

There’s more to learning than mere book knowledge   | Photo Credit: Pixabay

Board and entrance exams have always terrified parents and children in India, even the hard-working and conscientious ones. These exams define social mobility by determining access to elite universities and the peer groups and job profiles that open up as a result. There have always been school and coaching ecosystems that have benefited and contributed to system but they remained the bastion of the few. Though the boom in edtech has enabled access to a larger population, they continue to propagate a narrow view of what our school-graduating students deserve. But a few key shifts will benefit both the system and the students.

Be capability centric: Our educational institutions must move away from a disproportionate focus on knowledge acquisition to preparing students for problem solving critical and analytical thinking, drawing insights from data and synthesising perspectives.

Blended approach: Moving away from an in-class teacher-led approach to a combination of assisted learning, school support systems outside the class and continuing the learning journey at home, educators need to redraw the boundaries of their institutions so that they can operate both in the physical and virtual mediums with the focus on holistic student outcomes.

Personalised learning: All students in a class will not have the same ability or orientation to learning. Therefore, content delivered in a single manner does not gel with each child’s unique story or relationship with learning. Educational institutions can use data to personalise learning and enable every child to attain its true potential.

Multidisciplinary skilling: Imagine creating a whole cohort of engineers who can comprehend the moral and ethical expressions of their technology or strong business leaders who can be people centric, or media leaders who can combine understanding of news with technology and political and social discourse. What we truly need is to break the “subject groups” silos in higher classes and enable true choice for the student to design his/her career paths and life plan.

It is not enough if these steps are taken in elite institutions. This must be done by every educator engaging with students in India. Educational institutions are not meant to be precision shops anchored around a big-stakes event such as the board or entrance exam. They must be a space for learning, skilling, and preparing individuals for the lives they envision for themselves. This freedom to learn is currently the stronghold of the few. It is time to democratise access to true learning.

The writer is the cofounder and CEO of LEAD School.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 8:09:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/educational-institutionsmust-be-a-space-for-learning-andskilling/article33200384.ece

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