“We Understand the Potential of ICT in Education”

Brij Kishore“If ICT is properly implemented in education and we have properly trained teachers, then we can bring revolutionalry changes in our education system,” says Brij Kishore Sharma, Minister of Education, Rajasthan. In conversation with Mohd Ujaley

The Education Department initiated first phase of ICT implementation in August, 2008 and now you are entering into third phase. Where do you see ICT in education today?
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education is an asset. The old way of 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 today one can’t imagine a day without computer or mobile phone. Similarly, ICT in education, if implemented with proper infrastructure and trained teachers has the 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 match the demand of electricity and we have a long way to go especially in rural areas. As far as Rajasthan is concerned, we are trying to provide modern technologies, such as computer, laptop, smart-boards etc. to schools in phasewise manner. We understand the potential of ICT in education and our aim is to be self-dependent in electricity, if we are able to do so, rest will automatically fall in line. Today, many of us use smart phones quite efficiently, so if a teacher can use a smartphone then he can also use a smart-board. However, we need to provide basic infrastructure to the teachers.

Prime Minister’s Office has asked the MHRD to give emphasis on 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 or may not be agreeing with you though we all understand that our society is going through a period of change. We are young country; more than 65 percent of population in 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 older generation. So, definitely value system is changing and certain things are out of order. Nevertheless, it is the collective responsibility of parents, teachers and society at large to correct it. Teachers or syllabus in schools alone cannot do it. However, I agree that we need to emphasise on teaching moral science at the school level and include chapters on value education in textbooks, it will help us inculcate right values in the young generation.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in education is an asset. The old way of teaching has to be changed. ICT in education has the potential to bring revolutionary changes in the way we impart education in our country. 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

There are some bills directed towards raising the quality of education in India are pending in Parliament because states are creating the issue of federalism, hence not allowing them 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 clear that we need quality in education. However, these bills are for higher education. I feel, we should focus on quality education from Kindergarten (KG). If, we have quality education at early stage, it will help us in implementing 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.

You have been the education minister of Rajasthan for the past one and half years. How has your experience been 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 that matters but your approach to work should be considered. I feel I have done whatever I could as Minister in these years, and I am quite satisfied with it but there is a lot more to focus on. In Rajasthan, we are giving special emphasis to girl’s education. We are providing various benefits to people through 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 and now more and more girls are appearing in board exams.