Education For All: Inclusion in Education
The panel will focus on the issues of inclusion in education for the entire life-cycle of schooling (Early childhood, basic education, secondary education, tertiary/higher education) from diverse perspectives of divides that exist. This includes structural as well as other forms of barriers: gender, caste, religion, location (rural-urban), and access to technology, policy design as well as gaps in policy design and delivery, and governance.
Moderator: Jyotsna Jha
Building World Class University
The role of Universities in promoting democracy, promoting growth, safeguarding unpopular and diverse views, training new citizens for a new world and in terms of India, working for local, regional development and inclusiveness so that all universities go for the (global) elite areas of research and study?
Role of SMC's in improving the Quality of Education
The role of community in school education is immensely valuable. School Management Committees (SMCs) are the principal platform of community involvement defined in the Right to Education (RtE) Act 2009. It’s potential contribution to the schools as institutions is undeniable. Nationwide SMCs were notified subsequent to the RtE Act State Rule Notification. Since then steps have been taken by all State Governments to form and strengthen SMCs. Plan India has supported 3000 schools in 17 States across India in developing strong active SMCs. The schools have accepted the active role of parents in the school management process. Members have proactively supported the schools on issues to do with the wider community for e.g. leveraging funds for school infrastructure upkeep, enrolling out of school children, ensuring teacher regularity and mobilizing support for the school through the Area Counselor/Gram Panchayat representative. This year Plan India and Difficult Dialogues presents a panel discussion on the Role of SMCs in Improving the Quality of Education. The panelists are eminent personalities from national organizations as well as multinational corporates who will speak on the spirit of RtE Act and SMCs as effective school management bodies to have promoted quality education to all categories of children, without discrimination and strengthened school community relations. It is envisaged that the discussions held will lead to dissemination of exemplary stories for all stakeholders including State Government representatives. The aim is that stronger SMCs become the focus of the State Governments and local representatives and each of them contributes to achieve this all important objective.
New Threats to Academic Freedom
Academic Freedom has long been a pillar of research universities – the principle that an academic should be free and safe to hold and express views, however unpopular, radical or challenging. Yet all over the world this principle is under increasing threat from
(i) authoritarian and populist governments clamping down on dissident views and acts;
(ii) business and commerce increasing pressure for control of research discoveries in return for investment support;
(iii) students and academics demanding ‘their’ campuses must be ‘safe spaces’ without challenge to conventional liberal thinking on race, equality, identity, gender and migration;
(iv) public funders insisting universities focus more and more on student employability, job training and professional skills;
(v) new technologies devaluing the expertise and knowledge obtained from university educational information, data and ideas is open to all;
(vi) short-term contracts across universities undermining job security and creating a new weakened academic ‘precariat’.
How should we react to such threats ?Is this a turning point, with so many concomitant threats ? How can research universities defend academic freedom ?Have our institutions neglected their duties and responsibilities ? Our panel will engage with these issues and discuss how we might reclaim a vision and role for universities today, drawing on experience from across the globe.
Moderator: Paul Flather
Education, to be worthy of its name, must encompass not only information, concepts, and facts but also attitudes and values. This is all the more true today in view of the widespread confusion and questioning of traditional values in our culture.
The growing concern over the erosion of essential values and an increasing cynicism in society has brought to focus the need for readjustments in the curriculum in order to make education a forceful tool for the cultivation of social and moral values. People especially the young are confused about their values and value system. They are facing value conflicts and dilemmas. This is mainly due to the dramatic and far reaching socio-cultural and political changes that are taking place in our country and in other parts of the world. Besides these, there is breakdown of traditional values without proper replacement, lack of adequate role models, conflicting ideologies and double standards practiced by people in position of power and influence.
Higher Education in India is undergoing dramatic changes owing to several reasons including globalization. The need of the hour is to orient Higher Education in the light of India’s treasure of wisdom and values. Higher Education must serve as a vehicle to preserve and pass on what we have inherited from the past for posterity, which will stimulate society to aim at ever-greater heights of excellence and progress. Value Education in Higher Education will help in shaping the all round development of students and scholars-physical, psychological, moral, mental, spiritual and social in tune with the future challenges and changes.
Moderator: Allen Abreo
Educating Minds...Changing Mindsets
“Catch them young …watch them grow!” There couldn’t be a more succinct and better way to describe the role and impact of education.
Education – and equal access to it – is a long-standing goal of the UN and a number of progressive governments across the world. But education is far more than just literacy and numeracy. Have we really sat back and introspected upon the “super ‘sustaining’ powers” of education?
In a world where pervasive, discriminatory mindsets are rampant, it is only education that can address the root cause of human rights violations across continents. We can leverage its powers to break the cycles of violence, negative stereotypes, and prejudicial judgements, by investing in and encouraging the teaching of values such as empathy, and respect for the dignity and equality of others.
Nobody can dispute the fact that education is one of the most powerful weapons to wipe out the darkest evils that we face as humans! We know this but we haven’t yet unlocked it’s true potential. It’s time to open up to some dialogues that will bring out answers to some really difficult questions. Is there a recipe ? Is there an road map? Is it really possible? Who can make it possible? Who does the onus lie on? Why hasn’t it been done as yet? Has anyone come up with any solutions already?
These and many such questions will be discussed in a panel that aims to explore education as an investment in tomorrow.
Moderator: Anurradha Prasad Shukla
Financing of Education: Binding Constraint?
Should Religion be a Part of Education
Curriculum and Pedagogy
Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment are the three pillars of all formal education systems and are inextricably linked to each other. Therefore, efforts to improve any one of them must entail a comprehensive approach. Central to this triad is the centrality of Learning Resources essentially textbooks in the Indian context. These three in turn are linked to the respective roles and positions of teachers and students. Of late, learning outcomes of students are increasingly being assessed and accountability of teachers being questioned. Interestingly of late, reforms have been attempted at all levels in India and have been articulated quite sharply in National Curriculum Framework 2005 and Right to Education 2009. Recently however, the RTE 2009 Act has been amended and one progressive assessment-related reform been scrapped. This might tantamount to taking two steps forward and four step backwards.
Some of the questions that the panel will focus on addressing are:
How does one understand learning in the context of schools?
Should syllabus and textbooks define the scope of learning and if yes, how and to what extent?
What are the challenges with this approach?
What are ways in which learning can be made more meaningful and contextualised to the lives of children?
In a diverse country like India, how does one negotiate the nature of curriculum/learning resources to address the diverse needs of learners without confining them to their immediate context?
How does one define Learning Outcomes and understand the implications that this has for public provisioning of education for children?
How does one balance out between professional autonomy to teachers and their accountability to the system/children?
How does one ensure that assessments are meaningfully linked to curricular and pedagogic practices in schools?
Moderator: Disha Nawani
Role of Technologies in reshaping education system in India
Technology is evolving at a more rapid pace than anticipated, with the possibility of many paradigm shifts, even during active life of an individual. Design of education curriculum, therefore, needs a more innovative approach, to maintain its relevance in a fast changing technological scenario. The ability to adopt and adapt to new technology as it evolves, has to be a part of every one’s lifelong learning process. Linking education, technology and livelihood with societal development is the key to maintain competitiveness and sustainable progress.
Since the industrial revolution, technology has transformed all aspects of life and education too has been impacted. The life changing technologies that evolved was the result of the quest for new knowledge which in turn was the fruit of earlier investments made in education. Thus, education and technology have been complementing each other for almost two centuries, catering to the needs and aspirations of society. New trends in the current knowledge society are emerging largely due to developments in information and communication technologies and these in turn are creating opportunities for development of new skills for acquiring knowledge. Thus, there will always be pressure on educational, training and research institutions to recalibrate themselves to deliver avenues for human resource development.
Ubiquitous online access to reliable educational resources and services through multiple devices has posed a challenge to the existing education system particularly to the present teaching/learning process. Therefore, the panel discussion would like to deliberate on the following key issues:
• What key future technologies may put significant dent in our education system?
• What key components of current education system need changes, in order to embrace with the fast technological developments paradigm?
• Are our institutions equipped to face these challenges?
• Is our education policy sound enough to absorb these technological changes?
• What possible policy changes are required to raise our education standard upto the global level.
Moderator: G P Phondke