Today is an age of exponential change. New and ever-improving technologies are popping up every day and in every corner of society. The education sector cannot be left behind. It needs to update itself constantly to be at par with the technological innovations in the other sectors.
“The pace of change is mandating that we produce a faster, smarter, better grade of human being. Current systems are preventing that from happening. Future education system will be unleashed with the advent of a standardized rapid courseware-builder and a single point global distribution system.” Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at the Da Vinci Institute, February 2007.
The evolution of education can be divided into three generations, each having there own merits and problems.
Throughout history, man has sought to pass on knowledge to the next generation. This process started with oral tradition, storytelling and writing. With the advent of the printing press, knowledge and information slowly became available to the masses. The amount of information that could be gained by one human in a lifetime was severely limited by his access to printed materials and wealth. The majority of learning was gained through observation and imitation.
Starts around the late eighteen hundreds with universal literacy movements throughout newly industrialized regions of the world. Improvements in education slowly transitioned from apprenticeship to formal education and training. Despite our movements toward universal education, access to knowledge and opportunity continues to be inequitable throughout the world. Even with the arrival of the computer revolution, access to the tools of learning continues to define the learner.
Platforms for education and learning will slowly standardize and become globally accessible and affordable. The poorest to the wealthiest will have access to the machine that runs the platform. The class rooms will transcend geographical boundaries.
The concepts of distance learning, use of computers or internet or even cell phones have started taking shape. Students from various states now have the opportunity of pursuing courses from their choice of university from the comfort of their hometowns. These innovations not only help students the study subjects of their choice but helps in saving a lot of money. This way more students are able study higher.
The inter-state story has been a success but what about the inter-country programmes? Well for that we just have to wait and watch.
In India the passing of Education bill is an important step forward. It can enhance the future of education of millions of students across the country.
The biggest speed breaker is the funding. The government may propose new school, colleges and numerous reforms but these cannot see the light without adequate money. The central government allocated Rs.42,036 crore (Rs.420 billion/ $ 9.1 billion) for both the school and higher education sectors in 2010-11, an increase of over Rs.5,600 crore from the previous fiscal – a move that aims to reform education by bringing equality in the sector. But the critics believe even this is not sufficient for the development of education sector.
Sanjiv Kataria, a technical education expert said, “If education for all is the key to India’s aspirations for human resource development, a 16 percent increase in allocation for school education to Rs.31,036 crore is grossly inadequate.”
“Education needs to get the status of a ‘meta resource’ with adequate funding so as to positively impact overall literacy, skills development and employability,” he added.
The money provided by the government may never be sufficient so the private sector and players must pitch in with the funds. The recent announcement by the Reliance Group to open a World Class university to promote education in India is the way ahead. Reliance has plans in place to open a university meeting international standards and providing facilities to promote research in areas ranging from Liberal Arts to Technology.
The Commercialization of Education is fraught with a lot of skeptism. A lot of people say that the private education bodies keep money making as their primary aim and yet provide sub-standard education or the real good universities are out of reach for a lot of people. All said and done, with a corporate like Reliance making inroads into the highly lucrative education sector, things might change for the better.
The future of education sector in India is definitely bright if the government continues with its earnest efforts and private companies pitch in with the much needed funds.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and specialises in covering Alternative Career options.