Access, Quality And Inclusive Education Mantra For Manipur : Shambhu Singh, Education Commissioner(Schools), Manipur, India

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Model schools are being set up wherein the resources of the Government would be committed to deliver quality education exclusively

Shambhu Singh, Education Commissioner(Schools), Manipur

What role do you foresee for ICT in enhancing quality education?

Information and Communication Technologies have a critical role in enhancing quality of education. Though the teacher continues to be pivotal in delivering education to students, amongst the various enabling factors which ultimately ensure delivery of quality education, scope of ICT is unparalleled. For example, it facilitates better comprehension and understanding of various complex phenomena with ease. It also provides access to the unlimited source of digital information available through Internet. It can also play an important role in planning and administration, tracking the performance of individual teacher/student and prompt collection and dissemination of information.

Please mention some initiatives undertaken by the education department in enhancing the quality of education in your state.

Broadly speaking, the State government endeavours to provide access, quality and inclusive education. It is committed to ‘education for all’. While addressing the issue of access and quality, it is apparent that the two goals are divergent in nature and hence wherever the State government has adopted the policy of ‘one size fits all’, it has not been able to deliver quality effectively.

In brief, the State Education Department is making an attempt to review and re-assess the efficiency and effectiveness of its present policies and strategies and adopt such policies and strategies which will address the issue of access and quality separately. Model schools are being set up to deliver quality education exclusively.

e-Learning in various schools is also being taken up to broaden the horizon of the students. Efforts are also afoot to establish an MIS Cell in the Directorate of School Education with a dedicated website for dissemination of information to the public, with special focus on teachers and students.

Specify the challenges faced in integration of ICT in education in your state? According to you, what are the solutions to these challenges?

To harness the benefits of ICT in education it is imperative that the capacity building amongst the administrators, teachers as well as students takes place. Knowledge of computer with abundant hands-on practice is a pre-requisite. Hence, ICT in education has to be introduced in a phased manner by first giving adequate exposure and training to all concerned. Specifically the teachers should be encouraged to adopt computer enabled teaching. A unique problem associated with Manipur is the non-availability/irregular power supply which is compounded by law and order problems.

Manipur is a small but highly sensitive and complicated society. While generating content for e-Learning one has to take all sensibilities into account. The amalgamation of various tribes and the population of the Imphal valley have all different sensibilities and a balance has to be struck before virtual classes can start. As a result, we can depend on outside content providers only for pure sciences and possibly some languages.

In your opinion, should Public Private Partnerships be built for enhancing proper usage of technology in school education?

ICT per-se does not constitute the core activity of teaching-learning process and wherever feasible the supply and maintenance of its infrastructures could be outsource/privatised. There is no harm in the private sector providing the soft skills also, to the extent that it takes into account the local issues. Any public private partnership can however be made functional only when there is rule of law and contractual obligations can be enforced.

How do you envision your state school system with respect to implementation of ICT tools in the coming years?

In the present scenario of globalisation and rapid pace of changes taking place in terms of knowledge, employment opportunities etc, ICT has to become an integral part of education in the coming years. The Department envisions a school system in the future wherein the students would be empowered to access the unlimited source of WWW, shift from a memory-based to skill-based test, availability of lectures/notes on the web and also interaction between the teachers and students, parents and teachers through ICT.

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