Great Nations are always built on a foundation of Education. India cannot be any different. “15 years of Education for all ” must be the motto. Without a universally educated populace, there is little that can propel India forward. The four areas to be considered under education are: school education, technical (vocational) education, university education and ongoing adult education. In all areas, technology can help bootstrap the process.
School Education is India has a lot of room for improvement. Emphasis must be given on thinking and creativity skills, and not just learning by rote. Schools must have computers connected to the Internet for students to explore areas of their interest. English needs to become a part of all curricula – for that is the language of international business.
Technical Education is important to provide specialised training. This creates the craftspersons of tomorrow. Indian artisans have any skills across the country and these needs to be institutionalised. Today, these skills are passed from one generation to another through direct training. By identifying a set of skills based perhaps on the local strengths of the people, these skills can be extended to a much wider set of people. This is the Knowledge that will work as a positive differentiator for entrepreneurs for it is Knowledge is what sets people and companies apart.
University education in India needs to increase its focus on research and development – so that they become cradles for the creation of new technologies. We need to move from imitation to innovation and invention.
The interaction between academia and industry has long been talked about in India, but has rarely happened.
Without this, the institutions will remains silos – preparing students for the future, but in a cocoon. The IIT-IIM setup needs to be replicated across dozens of colleges across India. Also, the admissions process need to be streamlined – too often, precious time is lost as courts have to intervene.
Adult Education is perhaps the most ignored of thee four areas. We need a massive upgradation of skillsets in the Indian force to make them more productive and disciplined, and familiar with best practices. Quality and Service are often neglected in India. Adult Education will not only enlighten the workers on the importance of what they doing and the new technologies coming, but also help build up that inner passion which is so very hard to cultivate – it has to come from within, and is that all important factor which can productivity to “tip”. As part of adult education, computer skills and English should be made mandatory. Perhaps, what is needed is a “Sesame Street”-like program but for the 20-50 age group – television and computers can be used for mass reach.
Education, with Technology, are perhaps the key most important pillars in building out the New India. One can reinforce the other. India also has an inherent advantage with English that needs to be built upon and extended. An educated and thinking population can become India’s greatest strength in the years to come.