Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Notes from the Asian Summit on Education and Skills, Delhi 2014

In the first week of September 2014, I was fortunate to be part of one of India's top education and human skill development conferences in India. I was staying with a friend in Mayur Vihar and caught the morning metro to Pragati Maidan to attend the first session of the summit on 10th September. This post is about some of insights and notes I took down at the conference.

At the World Didactics Exhibition, there were exhibits of educational products and services from all around the world. Robots, National Research Organizations, School Management Systems, Educational Tools, Toys and Equipments were among the many exhibits. It was interesting to see how educational technology had evolved in a span of one year.

I then attended the Asian Summit on Education and Skills. I am writing this post, because I believe that more students and teachers must get access to the information shared at this event. There were policymakers, educators, principals and teachers. Unfortunately there was just one student participant, but i am hoping that will change over time. Notes from some of the sessions at the conference:-

Session 1 - Building leadership through effective policy implementation
Objective - As the description for the session mentions, the objective of this session was to re think how schools work and to re think the role of teachers. Understanding of a new teaching paradigm where the teacher is a facilitator and not just an individual that transfer information.

Dominic Savage - Director General - BESA and Forum Director - ASES
  1. understand what are the kinds of things that enthuse young people today.
  2. need more vocational training through csr and industry participation
  3. how the apollo space project developed an interest in math and science among students, we need similar such movements
  4. education in the 21st century is more like an adventure.
  5. we need to use technology to customize data for every child.
  6. to exchange, enrich, enhance, extend and empower can become our mantra.
  7. understanding how students learn is vital
  8. we can use technology to customize data to every student's needs 
  9. mentioned the statement of education minister that he heard that went like this, 'education is either subversive or it is not really education.' 


Mrs Poonam Jaiswal from Extramarks Education spoke about the 3 I's where infrastructure, information-structure and information culture are included. Students and teachers must learn how to use and build these points further

Mr Raveendra Arun was a speaker from the company Fedena Pro Services that is an online management system for a school. He spoke about how this a device that emitted RFDI frequencies could be given to the student. And the student could constantly get updates on how much time was spent studying, playing, socializing and more. This could be useful to the school as well.

Mrs Lata Vaidyanathan, a principal of a school in Delhi mentioned how students in her school were adopting and using technology for learning very effectively. The idea was not to make teacher redundant, but to make them more effective.


Dr. Jose Lacon - Senior International Advisor - Global Technical and Vocational Education Training, Phillipines. His points were
  1. Everytime new technology is introduced, there is a slight change in the way people educate themselves
  2. Three out of five people spend more time with technology than with their spouse.
  3. More than 80% of the people work more than 80 hours per week and many of those hours are in front of a computer. This cause eye strains, headaches and watery eyes
  4. These days you can converse with people and not look the person in the eyes.
  5. When people switch off their devices they feel anxious.
  6. There is a way to do communication without technology as well
Professor Rajaram S Sharma - Joint Director - CIET AND NCERT, Government of India. His points were.
  1. Started the talk with a story that questioned why so much importance was given to 21st century skills all of a sudden in the world.
  2. Felt that the problem lied in the fact that most people think that all of education is only schooling. But that is wrong. Because schooling is just the start of real education.
  3. You cannot equip students with all the skills.
  4. Schooling should fulfill these two objectives and the child must be confident enough to 1) Love Learning 2)Face the World
  5. In today's world, information is available without a mediator. The individual is now the mediator. So you need to develop a CRAP DETECTOR system where you can understand what content is important and what is crap.
  6. From your bedroom, using a computer and the internet, you can find solutions to some of the world's biggest problems.
Mrs Manjula Pooja Shroff - Founder Director - Calorx Education and Research. Her points were:-
  1.  Even with all the change, we cannot just immediately adopt things. We need to do things in a structured manner for sustained change.
  2. Yes, we do need to use smart learning and technology.
  3. Focus must be on application orientation and skill orientation.
  4. Schools must form individual task groups of teachers that have taken up personal responsibility to complete various tasks. This group can once a week for two hours. 

Dr Gavin Dykes who was the Program Director of ASES and part of an organization called EWF introduced session two of the days. The introduction for the session was, 'Most educators might not want to change, but the change is coming-- it is a matter of when, not if. The challenge is to prepare and assess the children of today for a world that has yet to be created, for jobs yet to be invented and for technologies yet undreamed.' How can we contribute towards the evolution of the assessment system that suits the above scenario.

Mr Sharda Prasad - Principal Advisor to Chief Minister, Government of Andhra Pradesh
  1. Education and skills are the most powerful tools for the development of a nation.
  2. Millions of young people coming out of college looking for jobs. Lots of firms have jobs available that need a certain kind of expertise that the young people do not have. Why is there a skill mismatch?
  3. Academia and Government have not formed a collaborative partnership. Other countries have done this.
  4. Ratan Tata once told the finance minister of the time that the Industrial Training institutes of the country were outdated.
  5. Government now ready to change and has also created a new department in the ministry for skill development.
  6. Sometimes Academics think by following the vocational training path will dilute the quality of education.
  7. Industry today has the option of employing the lower skilled person and training them rather than opting for the college graduate with no relevant skills and expertise.
  8. Universities also need to collaborate with the industries more.
  9. In Germany the curriculum is developed in partnership with the trade unions, academics, governments and business
  10. Opportunities for vocational educational must start from the higher secondary section of school only where students have the option for a vocational or academic path after a certain grade.

Mr Sultan Ahmad - Managing Director - Edu media
  1. Why are we always so worried about assessment, when are we going to think about learning.
  2. Why is learning, livelihood and living always looked at in very different ways.
  3. Best way to kill a subject is to teach it because most often people who study civics or music do not do it in real life.
  4. The systems and processes that industries follow are great lessons for schools.
Mrs Sushmita Pruthi - National Head -School Learning Solutions, NIIT Ltd.
  1. Both my daughters have very different ways of learning and they are very different. I would not think about ranking them.
  2. We need to kill the rote learning method.

Some questions I brought up with the panelists were
  1. 86% of our workforce is in the unorganized sector. i agree technology is a powerful tool,but many of the service and innovations we mention here today are limited to students from a certain socio-economic background. A student i met at a municipal school in mumab told me this, 'Why Should I go to school, when not much teaching and learning happens there and when I can earn rs 300 everyday instead of that. How do we use technology to reach and connect with these students? How do we use technology to reduce the gap between the quality of education that students in a private school and a municipal/rural school receive.
  2. All my assessment at school was for the institute or for the government. Can we introduce an assessment criteria based on portfolios and not grades. Here students can document and collect all their writing, creations and projects over their educational life and be assessed on that, rather than separate grades for every year.
Some of the interesting observations and points brought up by members of the audience were
  1. How can we teach the student what is immediately relevant to him or her?
  2. The idea of giving the student a gap year after high school so that they can think and research the subject and course they would really like to do 
Note:- Most of the points mentioned above are based on notes I had taken down during the event. These are my views and based on my personal interpretation of the discussions at the conference.For more information please visit this website - http://indiadidac.com/

Let us learn together
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1 comment:

  1. This is great info, Abhishek! I have to go through some of the points again..