ICT in education, if implemented with proper infrastructure and trained teachers has potential to bring revolutionary changes in the way we impart education in our country says education minister of Rajasthan, Brij Kishore Sharma in conversation with Mohd Ujaley.
You have been education minister of Rajasthan since last one and half years. How has been your experience and what are the critical areas that need immediate attention?
My experience as an education minister has been good. As you mentioned, it has only been one and half years, however I must tell you that it is not the duration of your tenure but your approach to work should be important. I feel, whatever I could have done as Minister in these years, I have done and I am quite satisfied with it but there are lot to focus on.
In Rajasthan, we are giving special emphasis to girl’s education. We are providing various benefits of welfare schemes initiated by central as well as state government. We have distributed cycles to students, we are also offering Priyadarshini Puraskar to meritorious girl students, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas are also doing good work. All of these have yielded better result for us, now large number of girls appearing in board exams.
Your department initiated first phase of ICT implementation in Aug, 2008 and now you are entering into third phase. Where do you see ICT in education today?
I think, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education is an asset. The old of way teaching has to be changed. When Former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi expressed his desire to bring computer to India, some people laughed at him but look at today’s life, you can’t imagine a day without computer or mobile phone. Similarly, ICT in education, if implemented with proper infrastructure and trained teachers has potential to bring revolutionary changes in the way we impart education in our country. However, the sad reality is that we do not have adequate infrastructure and enough trained teachers, even in the cities, we are struggling to provide continue supply of electricity and in rural areas, we have a long way to go.
As far as Rajasthan is concerned, we are trying to provide modern technologies such as computer, laptop, smart-boards etc. to schools in phase-wise manner. We understand the potential of ICT in education and our aim is to be self-dependent for electricity, if we are able to do so, rest will fall in line. Today, large number of us uses smartphone very smoothly, so if a teacher can use a smartphone, why can’t he use smart-board? Definitely, he can but we need to provide basic infrastructure to the teachers.
Some of recent violence, especially against women compelled Prime Minister’s Office to ask the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) to emphasise teaching moral science at the school level and include chapters on value education in textbooks. Do you agree that value is eroding from society and our education system has failed to address it?
I may agree and may not agree with you but that is not a point, but for sure, we all understand that our society is going through a period of change. We are young country; more than 65% population of India is going to be below 30 years of age. These young people are quick and fast, they have access to all the modern technologies. Their aspiration and way of life is different from my generation. So definitely value system is also changing and we know that certain things are missing and it is the collective responsibility of parents, teachers and society at large to correct it. Teachers or syllabus in school alone cannot do it.
However, I agree that we need to emphasise teaching moral science at the school level and include chapters on value education in textbooks, it will helps us inculcating right values in our young generation.
There are bills which are directed toward raising the quality of education in India are pending in Parliament because states are opposing it on the issue of federalism, hence not allowing it to be passed, why it is so? Is the quality more important to you or federal structure?
Both are very important. Government of Rajasthan has not opposed any of the bills; therefore it is very clear that we need quality in education. However, these bills are for higher education. I feel, we should focus on quality education from KG and LKG. If, we have quality education at early stage, it will help us in translating it to higher education. It is also true that even after allowing private organisations to set-up higher education institute in the country, we are still struggling to provide access and quality in higher education.