Education should not be treated as a profit-making business, rather it has to be a medium that helps the next generation contribute meaningfully to the nation’s growth, says, Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister, Government of Delhi, in an interview with Prathiba Raju and Arpit Gupta of Elets News Network (ENN)
What are the initiatives undertaken by the Delhi Government in education sector?
The Delhi Government has doubled the education budget in the State. This indicates our intention that we are serious about improving the standard of education in the national capital. We want to make education career-oriented and skill education is our priority. Our focus is to make people better citizens through education. A larger chunk in India is still following the age-old trends in education; and is yet to adopt innovations. To overcome such issues, the first and foremost job done by the Government was increasing the budget for education. Our idea was to give emphasis on good education, while other policies can be framed later. We have not doubled the budget just for the sake of doing it, but we have actually done a micro-level planning to implement it. We intend to make both the Government and private schools up to the mark.
We must invest more and more in education sector and produce more Homi K Bhabha and C V Raman-like crusaders. Also, it is needless to say that invention of zero in India was a great achievement, and we keep innovating. We need to learn from progressive countries where Newton invented the law of gravity centuries ago, and then they have Mark Zuckerberg today who introduced Facebook in keeping with the changing trends. Twitter has also occupied sizeable virtual space, we should also do something like that.
What is the skill education plan of the Government and roadmap to implement it?
We are including skill education as a part of the main curriculum in over 1000+ government schools run by us. We will reduce the curricula of Class IX-XII by 25 per cent and add innovative elements in it. We will focus more on job skills and vocational skills. We are working on it and have prepared a very comprehensive plan for that. We will take forward the vocational education and skill development in a planned manner. The robotic classes and innovation cubes will be seen in government schools positively in the next one to two years and incubation centres will be established in colleges.
We are also setting up a Skill University for building career of students and opening future prospects for them as per the requirement of job market. We have been running a Skill Development Centre in Delhi in collaboration with the Government of Singapore to train the students in various trades.
In schools, there should be freedom to educate and freedom to innovate. However, they cannot be allowed to loot. The government will keep a check on and record of it. By and large, government schools in Delhi have become a comfort zone for employees, and private players see schools as a profit-making business. This has to be curbed.
How do you encourage teachers in government schools and is there any scope for volunteer teachers?
Teachers in government schools are very talented. As a pilot project to encourage them, we have started changing the ambience of 54 government schools. We are training our teachers and fixing their responsibilities. We are giving all kinds of facilities at these 54 schools in the first phase, and later all schools will be covered. Besides, we are all set to start ‘Be the Teacher’ programme and will invite interested people, who can educate children. If anyone has the time to spare, he can come to our schools and teach students. To begin with the programme, we requested the President of India to be the first such teacher for a day and he happily agreed. We want classrooms to be a place of revolution where all people who think they are fit to teach can contribute to the cause.
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Do you think technology can be a game changer in the education sector?
Over the years, science and technology have changed the dimensions of the education sector. The entire world is revolving around technology-based applications today, and most of them are designed and developed by youngsters of 18-25 years in other countries. Our country too has innovative brains and capable people, but our schools have not been able to exploit their potential. Moreover, Government schools in Delhi are still deprived of high-tech education. This depicts the ground reality and we are trying to bridge the gap. Therefore, we have deiced to empower our schools and educational institutions through technology so that they drive students the right way.
Actually we need to shift the entire paradigm, and it is not possible without proper education. The Government invites all the stakeholders to join us in our endeavour, as without their participation, the desired goals cannot be achieved. It is not the Government’s job alone, but the society as a whole has a responsibility towards it. We have to understand our responsibilities towards education.
How can your initiatives help generate employment and be a model to emulate?
Every year around 2.5 lakh students pass out 10+2 from the government and private schools of Delhi, but it is an irony that there are not adequate arrangements for even one lakh students to accommodate for higher and professional studies. This needs to be rectified. To provide education to all, the incumbent Government has decided to help poor students get education loan even for pursuing ITI and polytechnic courses. This facility was earlier available to only 10+2 pass-out students who opt for premier institutes to pursue higher studies. We have to expedite this initiative.
We are also planning to connect skill development with the tourism sector to eradicate unemployment at tourist spots in the country. This model is quite popular in other countries.