Inclusion and Excellence Should Go Hand in Hand

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B K Chaturvedi,
Member, Planning Commission

On the inclusion part, we have 19 percent of outreach in higher education

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India faces massive challenges regarding inclusion and outreach. In North-East, there are more than 60 percent of the teachers are  untrained. We started digital courses and teacher training programmes in partnership with IGNOU and other agencies to address this huge degree of untrained teachers. These initiatives need expansion with infrastructure and capacity.
On the inclusion part, we have 19 percent of outreach in higher education. However, developed countries have 30-35 percent. Need  for ICT and various courses are very critical. It cannot be also denied that having learnt these courses, still there is a need for good teachers, and good supplementation.
It is very important that we have an access to many of the journals for free and that can be provided centrally. Today, eBooks and  journals can be proved as a strong way to expand the horizon of education. Therefore, knowledge about these journals is very important.
With respect to school education there is a huge challenge of GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio), which we have been trying to address. In  every state, there is a huge number of out of school children. For them, ICT is not the solution as it is a question of financial resource  and their challenges are of different nature. These challenges should be addressed differently and they should be brought under the ambit of formal education.
At the same time, it is also important to improve the quality of education. That part is a massive causality today. In our enthusiasm of  expanding the outreach, we have opened large number of technical and engineering colleges. But excellence, inclusion and outreach in  many of these institutions, the equipment, labs, and other facilities are temporary in nature and also the teachers. This is a great cause of worry. We have to expand, but simultaneously keep an eye on these institutions.
Today, ICT has become a very crucial component. More and more books are available in the ‘e’ form. The department should make it as easily accessible as possible. So that more and more people are able to use this knowledge.

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