It is indeed befitting that the first New India Education Summit, which I am privileged to attend as Chief Guest and keynote speaker, aims to strengthen the framework and build infrastructure in the realm of education. Education, as we are well aware, is a human right and a force for sustainable development and peace. It is a matter of urgency that Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of the 2030 Agenda aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030. It is time for us to put all our strength behind achieving this goal, to empower people with the knowledge, skills, and values to live in dignity, build their lives and contribute to their societies.
I see the NIES 2019 as an attempt to focus on preparation in our endeavour to achieve education for sustainability. In our history as a nation, in both pre- and post-Independence, there have been some errors, many inadvertent. More than 70 years as an independent nation, it is time to correct the wrongs that persist. If we were denied the chance to reap the benefits of the Industrial Revolution and the technology revolution of the 20th century, nothing needs stop us now from seizing the enormous momentum of the fourth digital technology revolution and soaring to unseen heights. It is time to harness the power of information to the advantage of all, and truly shine as a nation.
Our country has been making up for a lost time, introducing a volley of reforms and changes to achieve education goals. From the right to free and primary education, to the directive principles that see the states endeavouring to provide free and compulsory education for all children till they complete the age of 14 years, to the Right to Education Act, the efforts have been sweeping. However, the road to transformation is not without its share of challenges.
It is time now for dialogue and debate. We need to discuss amendments, what needs to be done, what requires change, what needs implementation, and what, discarding. I offer up my services for the purpose of serving as a medium in this process of metamorphosis. Matters that need to be addressed and are put across to me, will be considered and conveyed to the right sectors, and every help delivered as needed.
As we prepare to surge ahead, we cannot leave our rural brethren behind. It is imperative that we enable quality education for children from rural areas in government schools, no less. The standard of education needs to match—if not exceed—the levels existent in private schools. Then only will this huge chunk of our population be in a position to get quality education and receive a fair chance at garnering equal opportunity to let their talent shine both in the job space and in life, at large.
Ensuring the right to quality education is not a governmental responsibility alone. It requires universal and collective commitment from all sections. Along with political will, global and regional collaboration, and the engagement of governments, it requires civil society, the private sector, youth, UN and other multilateral agencies to tackle the challenges in education. Then alone will we be in a position to build systems that are inclusive, equitable and relevant to all learners.
As leading experts, innovators, instructors, and administrators from India’s educational community converge at the NIES to explore methods to bring about improvements in the education sphere, let us leave no stone unturned in our mission to set India on the path to its academic future. Together, let us discover the latest educational practices, explore new educational concepts, and network with experts. Change is calling. Let us heed the call.
About the Author:
His Excellency Shri V.P. Singh Badnore is the Governor of Punjab, India & Administrator- UT of Chandigarh, India
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