Ashish Dhawan, Founder-CEO of Central Square Foundation, shared eight aspects that could become the starting points of education in the future.
1. Assessments: Assessments are a key portion of education. We should not shy away from participating in global assessments. Goals can’t be set up without looking at an international benchmark, and therefore, we should participate in assessment studies like PISA and TIMSS. We should aim at being at least in the middle rankings in the next ten years.
2. Ratings: We should institute a national level assessment test (something like NAS) and have census-based assessments at the state and survey-based assessments at the national level. States should aspire to move up the ladder in this ranking. Also, we should understand that student assessment is the bedrock of school assessment, and we should be able to give feedback to the parents.
3. Teacher Education: We need to seriously fix teacher education. The 13000 odd teacher education institutes in India are the worst public institutes in India. We need to shut down the bad ones and establish good institutes. The budget (investments in training and developing teachers, not salaries) should go up. We can learn from China, which has only 66 dedicated universities for teacher education, one or two for every province.
4. Leadership: Teachers and principals account for 2/3rds of the school leadership. We could think of setting up a separate entity to impart training to and develop leadership abilities in teachers.
5. Early Childhood Education: While Delhi has started a kindergarten system (with 50,000 children against a need of around 250,000 seats at the moment), we need to make serious investments in early childhood education. RTE needs to extend downward to age 4, which is where compulsory schooling should begin. Again, the China example with 95%+ school enrolment at age 4 is a good one!
6. Secondary School/Skills Education: Corporates and voluntary organisations could be involved in a big way in the secondary and skills education sector. Skilled, enthusiastic and committed manpower from the Corporate world could engage in designing curricula, sharing knowledge and imparting communication and soft-skills training to the young adults. The example of Germany, which despite having the lowest college enrolment rate among developed nations, is still the powerhouse of Europe. Finland, China, Mexico and many other countries also benefit secondary school children with vocational and skills training from the Corporates.
7. Public-private partnerships (PPPs): We should promote more and more public private partnerships. In addition to making it easy for Corporates to come forward and work with the government, one should also start looking at the aided-school model as a PPP and slowly develop it into a great model of work.
8. Technology: We should befriend and exploit technology as much as possible. India still need 12 million teachers. It is only natural that we are not going to get that many great teachers. Therefore, we need to look into technology that could create personalised learning for every child. We need to rethink school design.
Ashish was delivering the dinner talk at the fifth annual School Choice National Conference organised by Centre for Civil Society.
To know more, visit: www.ccs.in and www.schoolchoice.in.