Future of education and learning discussed at the Lenovo SmarterEd Conclave
New Delhi : Union education minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Thursday said students, teachers, and the entire Indian education system demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the main takeaway from the disruption caused by the disease was that technology will play a crucial role in how we acquire knowledge in the future.
He was speaking at a two-day education conclave, which started on Thursday to discuss the road map for the future of learning.
Presented by Hindustan Times, the Lenovo Smarter Ed Conclave focused on the New Education Policy (NEP), the digital divide brought to the fore by online learning during the pandemic, developments in technology in education, upskilling teachers, and encouraging interactions with decision-makers across schools and institutions of higher education.
In his keynote address, Pradhan said, “This is the most opportune moment for us to be discussing this topic when India is successfully emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic wave. The unprecedented advent of the pandemic adversely and significantly affected our lives. No sector remained indifferent to its impact including the education sector. However, our students and teachers and the entire Indian education system demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of the pandemic.”
Pradhan spoke on how one of the largest education systems in the world moved online from offline learning. “It is also during the pandemic that India came up with the first education policy of the 21st century – the National Education Policy, 2020… Basing itself on the pillars of accessibility, affordability, equity, and quality, NEP 2020 aims to overhaul our education landscape for the greater good of our children. With a set of far-reaching recommendations, the policy has given us the road map for the future… one lesson from the pandemic is that technology will play a crucial role in how we acquire knowledge,” he said.
Focussing on technological innovations and solutions leading to progression and tech penetration, the conclave also discussed concerns on digital inequality and the new forms of exclusion that may arise.
At least 80% of students aged between 14 and 18 years reported lower levels of learning at home during the Covid-19 pandemic compared to when they attended classes in schools, a survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) across six states revealed. The survey report released on Thursday also warned that approximately 8% of children are not likely to return to schools in the future.
“While we emphasise the significance of technology in the future of education, a hybrid education model wherein technology will supplement classroom teaching is vital. Indeed, technology will be used to facilitate a better teaching-learning process and make it more accessible. However, this will not devalue the importance of in-person learning,” the education minister said.
Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Union minister of state for skill development, spoke about the importance of skill education and how it can be built up in the coming years.
“Along with water, electricity, and housing, the internet, and access to the internet and connectivity are almost as equal a priority for all people. This was emphasised during this once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic,” said Chandrasekhar. He said when he visited north Karnataka as part of a Jan Ashirwad Yatra, “mothers [there] asked why their children are not able to work from home in these districts. This is the most powerful narrative we can put forward for the need for connectivity.” He added that the government is focused on providing connectivity to those households which lack access to the internet.
“There is a strong argument that education will never go back to the pre-pandemic times and technology is going to be as important as physical campuses. The focus on large physical spaces will shrink and a hybrid model of education involving a combination of classroom teaching and online lessons will find greater acceptance,” the organisers said in a statement.
The managing director of Lenovo India, Shailendra Katyal, also shared insights on how technology can help bridge the digital divide.
“The world in the past few decades has become much more complex and challenging to navigate. Education systems across the world had to evolve to cope with the new challenges. When we talk of thedigital divide, it comes in the context of the new way of learning which is student-centric, as per experts and educators. The new way of learning is personalised. It is not one-size-fits-all and is about creating problem solvers. And technology has to play a very critical role in asynchronous learning as every student will learn at his/her own pace,” Katyal said.
He also said that there is no other way but to adopt this new way of learning.
The two-day conclave will touch upon the three key areas of the education sector – technological advancements in education, digital inequality, and reskilling or upskilling of the educator workforce.
The conclave will also see in-depth discussions on government policies, focusing on upgrading the education sector with innovative tools and ideas. Experts will discuss the approach towards smarter education in India and the role of analytical, data-driven technology in understanding young minds and providing them with a holistic curriculum.
Policymakers and experts will discuss the lack of infrastructure in rural India, address the gender bias in households, the digital readiness of government educational institutes, and the role of communities in bridging these gaps.
To watch the recordings of the sessions, click here: https://www.hindustantimes.com/brandstories/lenovosmarteredconclave/