The 3-day Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Samagam (ABSS) at Varanasi was organized recently with education leaders resolving to work collectively for transforming India into an equitable and vibrant knowledge society.
Addressing the valedictory session, Education Minister Shri Dharmendra Pradhan said that we need to develop forward-looking, responsive, world-class higher education institutions to prepare 21st century-ready students. We have to work to ensure access, inclusivity, equitability, affordability, and quality in higher education.
The Minister said that we must bring in a transformative education system rooted in Indian values, thoughts, and a sense of service. National Education Policy 2020 gives us the direction and path for decolonizing our education and achieving aspirations, creating pride in our languages, culture, and knowledge, he added. He further said that the components of NEP such as Multi-modal education, Academic Bank of Credits, Multiple Entry-Exit, and Skill Development will prove to be milestones in the direction of student-first-teacher-led learning.
Shri Pradhan said that seeing the enthusiasm of all the scholars, policy-makers, and educationists in this three-day program, new energy, and new confidence have been awakened. This Shiksha Samagam is a step towards establishing India as a knowledge-based superpower, he added.
The Minister highlighted that our Higher Education should be for the student and by the Teacher. Our administration shall do everything to support the teachers in meeting the aspirations of our youth.
Shri Pradhan thanked the Prime Minister for his continuous support and guidance of the Prime Minister on important topics related to the education sector. He reiterated the suggestions of the Prime Minister to develop India as a hub of Research & Innovation and work on solutions for climate change, and technology creation for waste-to-wealth for the promotion of a circular economy.
The Minister expressed hope and confidence that Universities will play an important role in preparing an entrepreneurial society and creating job-creators. They are the breeding ground of research for the welfare of society and mankind and for furthering ease of living. The Minister also said that by providing opportunities for education in Indian languages, we will be able to connect a large section of the education system and promote research and innovation.
Speaking on the occasion, Smt Anandiben Patel said that for the first time after independence such a large and intensive summit has taken place on higher education. Many institutions are adopting new and good practices. The issue of recruitment, construction, grading, and assessment must be dealt with effectively and we should provide facilities to students in their proximity. She urged the academicians that they are the changemakers and have to lead the change. As teachers and academic leaders if we spend only one hour extra than our usual working hours at our institutions, believe me, it will be a big move. She highlighted that Uttar Pradesh has done a lot of work during the Covid19 pandemic to help and assist the affected people with the help of universities. Universities and Educational Institutions in UP are adopting anganwadis and providing them kits for basic facilities, she added.
Union Minister of State for Education Dr. Subhas Sarkar addressed the educationists and said that holistic education is the soul of National Education Policy 2020. He further added that during his visits to different institutions, he felt there is a need for a significant increase of macro and micro-actions in the realization of holistic education. He shared ideas to develop a Foundational Curriculum of Indian Knowledge Systems having basic knowledge on the topic and emphasized the importance of building student-teacher connections.
Speaking at the occasion Union Minister of State for Education Smt Annapurna Devi said that the National Education Policy lays a lot of emphasis on ‘Education in Indian Languages’. However, there is no world-class study material available in our own languages. We cannot achieve the objectives of NEP-2020 from any borrowed language, she added. She stressed that to bring Indian education to par with international standards and aligned to the needs of the 21st century our universities and their academic leaders shall play a significant role.
Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Samagam witnessed 11 sessions including 9 thematic sessions and two exclusive sessions on sharing success stories and Best Practices of NEP 2020 Implementation. The deliberations ranged from themes like holistic and multidisciplinary education, enhancing quality, inclusivity, and access by use of technology, to the need for promoting an ecosystem for research and innovation, to the promotion of Indian languages, Indian Knowledge Systems, and sharing of best practices on NEP implementation.
The first thematic session was on Multidisciplinary and Holistic Education and was chaired by Dr. Prof. Rama Shanker Dubey Vice-Chancellor, Central University Gujarat, Gandhinagar. Dr. Rishikesha T. Krishnan Director, Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru; Prof. Raj Singh Vice-Chancellor Jain University, Bangalore; Prof. Nitin Karmalkar Former Vice-Chancellor, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune and Prof. S. P. Bansal Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Himachal Pradesh were the panelist for the session. It was suggested that higher educational institutions impart holistic education to the students by becoming multidisciplinary in nature by floating baskets of multidisciplinary courses. To ensure holistic and multidisciplinary education with the flexibility and mobility envisioned in NEP-2020, we need to put in place multiple facilities such as:
- A broad framework of qualifications with consistency across programs (National Higher Education Qualifications Framework (NHEQF)
- Academic Bank of credits,
- Guidelines for multidisciplinary education provisions for multiple entry and exit
- Provision to earn credits in a blended mode i.e. through different modes such as physical, ODL/ and online
- Creation of degree+ digital platform providing opportunities to have courses of choice other than their core disciplines.
- Providing colocation to the industry R & D units for promoting experiential learning through an internship.
- Providing co-location of industries on campus by establishing research and development units through industry connect
- Flexibility in Education should be provided in which a glimpse of everything is provided to the students in the first year and they are given a chance to choose their own discipline subsequently.
The second thematic session was on Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship and was chaired by Prof. G. Rangarajan, Director, IISc, Bangalore. Prof. V. K. Tiwari, Director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur; Prof. C. Muthamizh Chelvan Vice-Chancellor, SRM Institute of Science & Technology, Chennai; Dr. Shrinivas Balli Vice-Chancellor, Nrupathunga University, Bangalore and Prof. K. R. S. Sambasiva Rao, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Mizoram were the panelist for the session. The following were discussed during the session:
- NEP-2020 aims at creating a conducive ecosystem to catalyze and energize research and innovation in HEIs. The special focus is on seeding and nurturing the culture of research and innovation at universities and colleges through funding support, guidelines/policies, and establishing innovation and research centers.
- In-depth understanding of research and innovation methodologies and critical thinking abilities with emphasis on out-of-the-box thinking.
- Creating multidisciplinary interconnected centers of excellence as drivers of research, innovation, and entrepreneurship, with close links to the society and economy.
- An ecosystem to integrate all the stakeholders with diverse possibilities of research.
- Merit-based competitive funding with sustainable incentives and recognition of outstanding research.
The third thematic session was on Governance and Capacity Building of Teachers for Quality Education. Prof. M. K. Sridhar, Member, Drafting Committee of NEP staired the session. The panelist who deliberated on the theme were: Prof. Avinash C. Pandey, Director, IUAC, Delhi; Prof. (Dr.) Vijay Kumar Srivastava Vice-Chancellor, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, Gujarat; Prof. Dinesh Prasad Saklani Chairperson, NCTE and Prof. Sanjeev Jain, Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Jammu. The following were discussed during the session:
- The NEP-2020 stresses the empowerment and capacity building of teachers which is critical for quality higher education.
- The entire structure of the teacher-education programs needs to be revamped by making it an integral part of the broader higher education.
- The teachers should come up with new courses every year so that students have better choices in courses. The teacher should be provided an opportunity to work on a patent and if the product is sustainable in the market, then the university would also support the startup and if required then the teacher can come back to the academic career.
The fourth thematic session was on Quality, Ranking, and Accreditation. The panelists for the session were: Prof. G. Hemanth Kumar Vice-Chancellor, University of Mysore, Mysore; Dr. R. M. Kathiresan Vice-Chancellor, Annamalai University; Prof. Dr. S. Vaidhyasubramaniam, Vice-Chancellor, SASTRA, Thanjavur and Prof. R. P. Tiwari Vice-Chancellor, Central University of Punjab. The deliberation was held under the chairmanship of Prof. K. K. Aggarwal, Chairman, National Board Accreditation (NBA), New Delhi. The following were discussed during the session.
- Steps needed to attain higher ranks in the world-renowned rankings such as the Times Higher Education and QS World University Rankings.
- Margdarshak-Margdarshan Initiative- Mentor-mentee handholding among institutes.
- Colleges will be encouraged, mentored, supported, and incentivized to gradually attain the minimum benchmarks required for each level of accreditation.
- Discuss and review the parameters adopted by the accrediting agencies.
- Explore ways to bring the vast majority of non-accredited institutions under the ambit of the accreditation framework.
The fifth thematic session was on Digital Empowerment and Online Education. Prof. Kamakoti Veezhinathan, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras; Prof. P. V. Vijayaraghavan Vice Chancellor, Sri Ramchandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Chennai; Shri Rahul Kulkarni, Chief Technologist, Samagra &Co-Founder, DoNew; Prof. Nageshwar Rao Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU were the panelist in the discussion. The deliberation was held under the chairmanship of Prof. Anil D. Sahasrabudhe Chairman, AICTE. The following were discussed during the session:
- Optimization of existing digital platforms and ongoing ICT-based educational initiatives to meet the current and future challenges in higher education.
- Creating better learning opportunities using digital resources for a wider audience, on an affordable and equitable basis with a lifelong learning orientation.
- Need to have nationwide mentoring centers with industry-supported labs in various areas
The sixth thematic session was on Equitable and Inclusive Education. The session was chaired by Prof. Syed Ainul Hasan Vice-Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad. The panelist for the session was Prof. T. V. Kattimani Vice-Chancellor, Central Tribal University, Andhra Pradesh, Vijayanagaram; Dr. Ujwala Chakradeo Vice-Chancellor, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai; Prof. Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit Vice-Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi and Prof. Sushma Yadav Commission Member, UGC & Former Vice-Chancellor, Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalay. The following were discussed during the session:
- Equitable access to quality education for all students, with special emphasis on Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SDGs) to promote equity and inclusion in higher education.
- Improving equitable access to Quality Education for the Socio-Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SDGs) through Bridge Courses, Earn-While-Learn programs, and Outreach initiatives.
- Bringing in more opportunities for scholarships, fellowships, and research with an open spirit of participation and competition.
The seventh thematic session was held on the theme “Promotion of Indian Languages and Indian Knowledge Systems”. Prof. Chamu Krishna Shastri, Chairman, HPC for Promotion of Indian Languages staired the panel discussion. Prof Ganti Suryanarayan Murthy Coordinator, Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS); Swami Sarvottamananda Vice-Chancellor, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute, Belur Math and Prof. Radhakant Thakur Vice-Chancellor, Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha, Tirupati being the panelist, deliberated on the mentioned theme.
- Development of ways and means to preserve, strengthen, and promote the rich cultural heritage, art, and languages of India.
- Incorporating Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) into the curriculum at all levels.
- A multipronged approach will be needed to rejuvenate IKS. A strong focus on capacity building at the institutional, individual, research, and student level is needed. Authentic verified references, course materials, and textbooks are essential for developing several courses that are discipline-specific and aligned with the interests and needs of the students.
- To establish IKS Centres in various institutions across the country to develop institutional capacity to support the research, education, mentoring, and outreach activities.
The first thematic session of day 3 and ninth in the series was held on the theme Skill Development and Employability. Dr. K. N. Satyanarayana Director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Tirupati chaired the session and a panel discussion was carried out by Dr. N. S. Kalsi Chairperson, NCVET; Prof. M.P. Poonia Vice Chairman, AICTE, New Delhi; Prof. Raj Nehru, Vice Chancellor, Vishwakarma Skill Development University, Haryana and Prof. Prem Kumar Kalra, Director, Dayalbagh University, Agra.
Skilling plays a valuable role in improving the employability of students with curricular support.
The integration of vocational education programs into mainstream education in all educational institutions, in a phased manner.
Skilling is equally important in disciplines of general education and both teaching and research must focus on utility, modernity, and flexibility.
More emphasis on meaningful links between academia and industry.
Creation of an “industry fit” skilled workforce for the country.
Industry-led, practice-oriented, and outcome-based learning has to be the main focus area.
Explore ways and means for establishing institute-industry connect
Trace various models for integrating vocational education into higher education.
Review the National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF) for aligning it with the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) to promote student mobility to capitalize on international employment opportunities
The tenth thematic session was held on the theme “Internationalization of Education” and the panel discussion was staired by Prof Sudhir Jain, Vice Chancellor, BHU, Varanasi. The panelist for the session who deliberated on the theme was Prof. Vidya Yeravdekar Pro-Chancellor, Symbiosis, Pune; Prof. Anand Agrawal Vice-Chancellor, Chandigarh University, Ajitgarh, Punjab; Prof. (Dr.) C. Raj Kumar Vice-Chancellor, O. P. Jindal University, Sonipat, and Dr. Archana Mantri Vice-Chancellor, Chitkara University, Punjab.
- Emphasis on the internationalization of the higher education system.
- Global awareness and inter-contentedness through the internationalization of higher education.
- Need to attain the goal of global quality standards.
- To attract greater numbers of international students, and achieve the goal of “internationalization at home”.
- To create provisions for supernumerary seats for foreign students in universities so as to increase their enrolment.
- Academic and research collaboration through MOUs between HEIS,
- Provision for credit recognition and credit transfer, joint and dual degrees
- Allowing top Indian Universities to establish campuses in other countries, and similarly
- Top-ranked foreign HEIS to open campuses in India.
- Explore ways and measures to promote India as a preferred global study destination.
- Deliberate upon various models and platforms for academic collaboration between Indian and foreign HEIs
The Ministry of Education has organized Shiksha Samagam from 7th to 9th July in Varanasi. It provided a platform for eminent academicians, policymakers, and academic leaders to deliberate and share their experiences and discuss the roadmap for effective implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020. The event was attended by more than 300 Academic, Administrative & Institutional Leaders from Universities (Central, State, Deemed, and Private), and Institutes of National Importance (IIT, IIM, NIT, IISER) from all over the country.