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Shishir Jaipuria, chairman of Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institutions shares his views on opportunities and challanges of the Indian education system with FE Education Online.

What is the best thing about today’s education system?

The best thing about today’s education system is its resilience, adaptability and continuous evolution in the face of new technology and pedagogy. Today, educators, academics and researchers across the world are coming up with innovative learning systems that intend to make teaching and learning immersive, experiential, and collaborative. With hybrid learning and self-paced learning, education is already going beyond classrooms. New-age pedagogical practices such as Design Thinking, Computational Thinking, Peer Learning and Differentiated Learning are inculcating the 21st century skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and problem-solving in learners. There is a greater emphasis on teachers’ training. Education is evolving from rote memorization to holistic development of learners. The Systems Thinking approach is empowering the educators to recognize the relationship and interdependence between different components of a learning ecosystem and arrive at sustainable solutions and innovations. India has the second largest education system in the world and the government of India has adopted a progressive approach by introducing the National Education Policy 2020 and taking several notable initiatives such as DIKSHA and NROER (National Repository of Open Educational Resources) which has nearly 17,500 pieces of learning e-content for students. The government is also coming up with a GIFT city in Gujarat which will attract foreign universities and colleges to operate under a relaxed regulatory framework. With greater budgetary allocation each year, India’s education system can well be on the path to be among the best in the world.

What is the one thing you would like to change in the education system?

Education system is an organic system with interdependent elements. Bringing about a lasting change would entail persistent and concerted efforts on multiple action points so that a new paradigm may emerge. One particular change I wish to see happen in our education system is greater emphasis on skill development and value-based education. Today, academic excellence is sought-after in school and college education. Many learners who have a natural aptitude for skills don’t find the platform, the recognition and the encouragement to develop those skills. Skill-based education should gain prominence if we are to bring about 20 million out-of-school children back into the mainstream education. It shall also boost the growth of India’s economy through a skilled workforce. At the same time, we need to focus on instilling good values in our children. All our ancient scriptures and epics exemplified the values that individuals and societies need to nurture. The present education system should aim to provide a harmonious blend of knowledge, skills, values and attitudes.

What is the role digital technology has played in the evolution of the education system?

Digital technology has played a seminal role in transforming education in the 21st century. It has changed the profiles of teachers and learners. It has changed the learning content and also transformed the learning environments. In today’s digital age, information is abundant and easily accessible. Teachers have evolved into knowledge facilitators who guide students in creating their learning trajectories. Students are now collaborators in designing their learning and have greater control through self-paced learning and blended learning. Prevalence of digital tech in all disciplines has transformed the content and methods of learning. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are making learning increasingly experiential, and the emergence of the metaverse will introduce a new paradigm of education altogether. 

What has been the disadvantage of digital technology in education?

Like all things, digital technology too has its downsides. Digital was a good stopgap to minimize learning losses during the Covid pandemic, but we also observed how digital fell short in providing the physical, social and emotional development that students of all ages need. Digital is no substitute for in-person learning in physical classrooms. Moreover, over-reliance on digital may stymie full potential for cognitive development as well. There are serious concerns about screen time and reduced attention span of learners. Children over-indulging in digital tech tend to socialize less and are at the risk of cybercrime or accessing unfiltered content. The use of digital tech in education has to be judicious and smart.

What is the career advice you would like to give to students?

In order to be successful in a career, one should understand how dynamic the industry has become in the present times. According to a World Economic Forum report on Future of Jobs, companies across the world estimate that by 2025 around 40% of workers will require reskilling of six months or less. About 94% of business leaders assert that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job. Students, graduates and post-graduates have to possess practical knowledge and requisite skills to kick-start their career and then make it a practice to continually upskill and reskill in order to grow and excel in their chosen career. In addition, students should develop resilience/adaptability, reflectiveness, global citizenship skills, innovation and creativity skills, interpersonal skills and social-emotional skills to thrive in a job. They should develop and preserve good values to emerge as ethical leaders.