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Education in 21st century: Rise or Fall

Education is one of the foremost priorities of every country, every government. Everybody is looking for a disruption in the education ecosystem and waiting for the discovery or invention, that can change the way the world learns. The buzzword around today is ‘21st century education’ and we all have big expectations from this unknown, evolving & yet to be defined form of education. Experiential learning, project based learning, integrated learning, blended learning, flip learning, mobile learning, adaptive learning, are some key techniques that you may find when you search for material on this new form of education. However, one big question is if we are ready to implement these new techniques and if the techniques are evolved enough to be used in different learning systems.

To define these techniques in a few words- experiential learning is learning by experiencing things and not just reading & writing; project based learning works with a project being designed and allocated to students as per the topics taught; integrated learning is a process of integrating various topics in different subjects and teaching in sync for better understanding of the concept as a whole; blended learning is a combination of face to face teaching and virtual/online studying; flipped class requires students to learn the concepts at home via online classes or videos and solving problems with a teacher in the class; adaptive learning is learning at one’s own pace majorly using virtual resources; mobile & e-learning is learning using mobile device and information technology.

While studying the process to implement these techniques in the Indian education ecosystem, some very interesting points came to light. These techniques have the potential to bring a long lasting change by making learning student-friendly and creating effective learning infrastructure. The students’ inclination towards technology and Internet based platforms does charm the education industry. However, a few points need to be considered before accepting these techniques in their current form. Most of these techniques have been tested on small sample groups in certain countries and the findings are being implemented at various schools in various parts of the world in different, workable ways. These techniques still lack standardized practices and give different results in different schools with varied resources and varied effectiveness. One big gap that needs to be bridged is the regional requirements of the stakeholders involved. A parent in Punjab may have a different perspective than a parent in Mumbai; a teacher in Assam may have a different teaching requirement than a teacher in Gujarat and a school in Jammu may have different infrastructure than a school in Telangana. Somewhere the complete process is too clouded with technology being considered the front-runner instead of being the enabler. The human part of education is being seconded and as per a survey the teachers now consider it a hindrance in education effectiveness and find themselves more confused than empowered. It looks that the key stakeholders in education are still far from acceptance of these techniques in more than one way.

In my recent visit to Kerela, I was discussing about Indian education system with some school Principals. It was great how thirty people in the room had thirty different opinions about the same system. In our discussion, I congratulated them to be a part of the state known for its education delivery. But, I was in for a surprise. One of the education leaders corrected me stating ‘Kerela is known for literacy, not for education’. That is a powerful statement, which may raise many questions about the complete education vision of the entire country. We have changed our vision statement from ‘Rashtriya Saksharta Mission’ (National Literacy mission) to ‘Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan’ (Education for all) but have we actually bought enough change to the processes involved in the delivery of education and not just literacy. The purpose of 21st century education is to provide equal opportunities of education to all, but has the real meaning of education been explored, yet?

Rishabh Khanna

Les Transformations

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