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Posts Tagged ‘FICCI’

FICCI held its first school conference at New Delhi on March 10. I was helping facilitate a session on Teacher Education, which has perhaps become one of the really important challenges of our education system. The NCF 2005, NCFTE 2009, the Justice Verma Committee, the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, the new Teacher Mission and the RTE Act provide the backdrop against which the discussions are happening.

As per Dr. Amarjit Singh, AS, MHRD, lots of great things are happening:

  • Focus has been on quality of teacher education, program and curricular revisions. a new model curriculum and various short and long program formats have been designed
  • The CBSE has set up a Centre for Assessments, Evaluations and Research
  • The NCERT is building learning indicators – a set of “common core” learning outcomes
  • NUEPA is building school standards
  • The Open University, UK partnership is underway with 3000 teachers being trained across 150 teacher development units
  • North east state open universities are starting MOOCs
  • The CIET has built a semantic content store called the NROER
  • The Delhi SCERT has actively introduced the flipped classroom and shared curriculum practices
  • Various examples of digital content and community based programs across K12 and Teacher Ed

Prof. MM Pant gripped the crowd’s attention by invoking John Daniels’ solution of training 10 million teachers by flipping pre- and in-service education. Dr. Anjlee  Prakash talked about the role of the teacher and her professional development in the context of a connected, networked and technologically advanced world (FICCI School Conference_LLF_2014 for FICCI), and the role of MOOCs & blends thereof in Teacher PD.

A few other takeaways from me:

  • We need better technology to aggregate, remix, repurpose and feed forward content and conversation to ever-growing networks
  • We need design and development of systems that engender network formation and scale
  • We need interoperability with the myriad tools and systems being developed
  • We need better technology and processes to capture and analyze interactions of teachers and students with the OER created by different initiatives; need learning analytics systems in place quickly
  • We also need to raise heutagogical capabilities in a concerted manner, perhaps with a set of coaches or mentors that we actively support

It was a packed conference session with many other speakers including Prabhaav, TESS India and Microsoft. And we obviously ran short of time (my apologies to the speakers, especially Anjlee and Lokesh!).

And yes, I am building up a repository on teacher education. Please do send me your links!

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I had a chance to review E&Y’s latest report – EY FICCI Higher Education Report Nov12 released at the FICCI Higher Education Summit 2012. I have reviewed their past reports here. The report leverages the UGC report, HE At a Glance Feb 2012.

Broadly, the report shows a picture of growth as a result of the capacity building in the Eleventh Five Year Plan. We now have 659 universities (152 Central, 316 State and 191 Private), 33,023 colleges (669 Central, 13,024 State, 19,930 Private) together serving 18.5 mn students. and 9,541 diploma granting institutions (no Central, 3,207 State, 9,541 Private) serving 3.3 mn students – a staggering total of 46.430 institutions and 21.7 mn students, not including the 4.2 mn students being served by 200 Open Distance Learning / Distance Education institutions (largest individual player with 1/6th the market is IGNOU). Private institutes (about 30,000) comprise 63.9% of the total HEIs and 58.9% of the enrolments. Our GER is now 17.9%, a big jump from the 12.3% reported last year.

General courses account for 2/3rds of students. Undergraduate degrees comprise 84.9% of the total. In fact, there is a dramatic decline as the degree level progresses – from 16.2 mn enrolments in UG programmes, to 2.2 mn in PG and a measly 0.1 mn in PhDs. Diplomas are sizable at 3.3 mn enrolments. Demand for professional courses (as compared to general courses),  and the number of private institutions seem to be increasing faster.

The report is centered around an analysis of the three pillars of our policy – equity, expansion and equity. It does a post mortem (rather just lists the achievements) of the 11th Five Year plan, and proceeds to list the initiatives and critical bottlenecks facing the 12th FY Plan. I would specifically like to call special attention to what is perhaps the first ever public acknowledgement of MOOCs on p29 of the report. Under the title of a meta-university initiative, the report states:

Establish meta university framework to promote inter-institutional collaboration and designing of innovative interdisciplinary programs. This framework would encourage the use of Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and access to content, teaching and research support for all the members of a network.

True to style, the report looks at some key levers for enhancing the quality of India’s higher education institutions, namely merit-based student financing, internationalization of education, enabling research environment, high quality faculty, improved technology for education delivery, and employability. Collaboration between industry, academia and government is a unifying theme.

I get really anxious when I see these (like when they called them Game Changers). For example, how does merit based financing through which MIT, USA provides multiple financing methods, assured (?) placement outcomes and scholarships through alumni contributions, really enhance the quality of India’s higher education? In fact, how does taking an MIT example help us at all?

Nor does internationalization of education mean much to me. What if this became a condition for excellence? Amrita University has a tie-up with 50 international institutions – does that make it excellent. Why say MOOCs on one end at all then? Perhaps we are gearing up to internationalize the Coursera kind of MOOCs through institutional collaborations next as I have heard talk on already. But besides that, how is internationalization, as represented in the report (exchange programs, dual degrees, research collaborations) really going to help anyone except the guys who are already at the top? The same holds for “enabling research environments” – true research will happen in India when the entire system is empowered and not just when a few hundred teachers/researchers are involved.

High quality faculty – we are talking of an exemplar here – 150 teachers at ISB of which 100 are visiting faculty from abroad!!! The report also equates technology with tablets. That is a first for me, with examples given of B-schools in USA and Canada. Next in employability, there is no mention of mass employability initiatives. The same comments hold true for the examples of collaboration that they have presented.

The target enrolment by the end of the 12th plan is 35.9 mn students. The report sees critical bottlenecks. It argues for the lowering of barriers to entry by domestic and foreign players, equal opportunity to the private sector in all government programs (now that government seems to be increasing funding avenues), freedom for private players to operate, resolution of conflicting regulations for distance education (which has some valid concerns like territorial jurisdictions) etc.

The report does not see teachers (and students themselves, or edu-leaders) as key levers. It does not call out the fact that we have a crisis of educational leadership that report after report sponsored by the government has emphasized. It ignores the fact that critical bottlenecks arise out of India’s sheer diversity and scale, not from restrictions on private players. It does not mention, except in passing, that the Higher Education and Research Bill plans to cut bureaucratic paralysis, perhaps giving the system a chance to shape up. It mentions once that learner centric approaches need to be followed and teachers need to develop, but does not talk about pedagogy/education technology initiatives, nor about the critical bottlenecks in teacher education so evocatively brought out by existing reports.

In being driven by private diktat, the report pays scant attention to the real problems and needs of India’s education system. Somewhere we need to wake up and realize that the problem of capacity and the problem of the market, is not India’s issue at all. Somewhere it is our inability to accept that we do not understand the problems we face, and therefore continue to drive solutions that ill-serve our system.

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Recently (Nov 6), I had the opportunity to convene a session at the FICCI Higher Education Summit 2012 titled Powering the Higher Education System through Information and Analytics. Please also see the pre-session page on this blog. A summary presentation is provided below.

I had a really interesting panel reflecting government and corporate interests with people like Pankaj Jalote (IIITD), H A Ranaganath (NAAC), Deepti Dutt (UIDAI) and Sudhanshu Bhushan (NUEPA) [government/education] and Milind Kamat (Ellucian), Trey Miller (RAND) and Ambrish Singh (shiksha.com), and there was huge load of audience participation.

My research for this session (co-instigated by Pawan Aggarwal at the Planning Commission and Shobha Mishra at FICCI) has been extremely rewarding. The two committee reports that I leveraged heavily were the Yash Aggarwal Report and the S Sathyam Committee Report (more recent) that summarize the progress since 1872 in how India has handled data regarding school, higher and vocational education.

The pattern that emerges is no longer surprising. A plethora of data collection & reporting initiatives working sometimes at cross-purposes, led by different government agencies and with no coordination, lack of effective leadership, incorrect/inconsistent/incomplete data coverage, no unifying taxonomies (no international alignment to standards like the UNESCO ISCED), lack of (!) analysts to analyze existing data, centre-state coordination challenges, insufficient attention paid on analytics and proposals that ask the government repeatedly to increase funding, staffing and level of centralization.

Most of all the lament that things are really broken, that previous committees have been either defunct or dysfunctional or completely ignored by planners. A similar pattern can be seen in reports that I have covered in my blog earlier (Teacher Education, Open Distance Learning).

The fact that educational data is a challenged notion in India, does not augur well for stakeholders who need transparency and accountability in the education system. The fact that, as a corollary, research on education analytics is prominently absent in the country (while the world seems beset by it), is curiously anachronistic.

It is also frightening because for us as a nation to rely on such data, ignore recent developments and plan the future of half a billion Indians is suicide. It behoves us to pay heed when people such as Sathyam remark (Sec 7.1/7.2 of the report) that they hope that their findings and recommendations will not fall by the wayside (and they indeed do).

Sudhanshu Bhushan of NUEPA, in a pre-conference discussion, stated correctly that these analytics need to be seen in the perspective of the political economy that they operate in. We agreed that it is not so much of a crisis of intellectual capacity, but that of effective leadership. On the other hand, H A Ranganath, was of the opinion that the change must come from within the system, at the level of the individual, rather than dependence on government initiative while Pankaj  Jalote made the important point that data cannot be collected, it has to be provided.

Deepti Dutt, who with UIDAI, has experienced the pains of collecting and organizing unique identification data for what is now 0.2 bn Indians, had her experience to share on large-scale data management processes. Ambrish Singh brought in special insights into what students are looking for when they compare educational options. Milind Kamat talked about how to use information as a lever to promote institutional viability, effectiveness and quality. Trey Miller talked about performance measures in the context of practices worldwide.

Madan Padaki pointed out the need for the industry/employer as a major stakeholder that needs to be factored in. Another participant from Pearl Academy raised the bar by isolating the creative tension between the tyranny of data and the power of individual intuition.

I would hope that these discussions continue, in the interest of millions of Indians who live in the hope that there is some intelligence in the way we are operating today. I also hope they result in something, some day.

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