Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Aadhaar can be a boon for India’s education system

An Aadhaar-linked academic record can enable each new school to be confident that it knows what previous education each student has received, prior to attendance
An Aadhaar-linked academic record can enable each new school to be confident that it knows what previous education each student has received, prior to attendance
(Dinesh Krishnan/ Fobes India, April 13, 2011)

Most would agree that Aadhaar is India’s most revolutionary technological endeavour in recent history, second only to mobile telephony in its scale and impact. What other technology or service has shown such impressive growth anywhere in the world – from zero to over 80 crore (800 million) users in under six years? If you ask a room full of people, “Who has an Aadhaar card?” most will raise their hand. But if you ask them if they’ve ever used their card, few hands go up. I believe Aadhaar has implications far broader than the financial services with which most people currently associate it with. This under-utilised asset is ready to improve education, create jobs, and grow the economy.

To understand its potential in education, one must first grasp how Aadhaar works in the most well-known application: The Aadhaar-enabled payment system. This system essentially allows anyone with an Aadhaar ID to go to a micro-ATM and check their balance, withdraw money, deposit cash, and transfer funds to another person with an Aadhaar number. The Aadhaar system also allows the government to send payments electronically to beneficiaries – even those who may not have previously had bank accounts – without concern for the fraud that currently plagues direct payment schemes. Simply put: Aadhaar’s ID’s are attached to real people, and reliably allow transactions of all kinds to happen between clearly identified citizens and the institutions that serve them.

While payment services enabled via Aadhaar have clear value in “financial inclusion” and save money by eliminating fraud and corruption, they are not fundamentally changing an industry. The impact on education will be different. India’s education sector, which broadly includes K-12 and university education as well as vocational training, is ready for Aadhaar to improve via a fundamental disruption: Long term tracking and certification of results, all tied to reliable IDs. India currently lacks a formal system of tracking a person’s school record, training certifications, or employment history. As a result, the academic performances of Indian students have limited documentation and are not tracked over a student’s career; data that is tracked cannot be verified, and service providers and employers in India’s job market lack an efficient means to properly match the most qualified job candidates of specific skills sets to the jobs that most require candidates with those qualifications.

India’s youth are increasingly mobile, moving with their parents as they seek economic opportunities, and then moving to larger towns and cities to get better educational opportunities. An Aadhaar-linked academic record can enable each new school to be confident that it knows what previous education each student has received, prior to attendance. As a result, policymakers and curriculum designers can track academic results of students over time, even as they move between school systems in different states, in order to determine the outcomes of various improvements made to educational systems at the local or national level.

Such student tracking is well established in the US. As of 2010, all 50 states are using a statewide student identifier that remains with a student throughout his or her primary and secondary education career. And 33 states now have the ability to follow student progress into post-secondary education. They can do so by connecting primary/secondary records of individual students with each state’s respective records in its state public higher education system. Creating a similar tracking system based on Aadhaar IDs is well within the reach of the more centrally-managed Indian education system over the coming years.
Aadhaar’s unique IDs can also be used by the vocational education sector as a tracking mechanism that can link to a record of a person’s vocational skill set as well as his or her academic and employment history. For example, a mechanic who specialises in a specific field will be able to charge proper fees for being the most qualified mechanic to best diagnose and fix a problem.

Qualification will be determined by verified skills, certifications, and reputation rather than by word of mouth and anecdotal stories. Having the ability to track the academic and professional history of each person and increase the efficiency of the matching process in services and employment markets will ultimately incentivise citizens to lead more productive careers. Service providers and job seekers will be able to conclusively certify their knowledge, skill sets, experiences, and thereby be rewarded accordingly. To date, people have been expressing their capabilities on resumes, websites, and sign boards. Nobody could easily know how truthful such claims were. Now, skills claims linked to Aadhaar IDs will be verifiable – they will be a new, higher value currency.

Aadhaar-linked skills marketplaces are already being created. In August 2013, the Indian government launched a new programme called the National Skill Certificate and Monetary Reward scheme through a training company, Centum Learning. In order to create a stronger skilled and employable workforce, this new scheme grants government monetary rewards, called Standard Training & Assessment Rewards, to its programme graduates. Training programmes under the scheme are intended to develop and certify skills against industry standards. The assessment and certification processes involved are based on rigorous norms as per National Occupational Standards. Under the scheme, Centum Learning offers skills training on industry recognised courses in order to orient and skill the youth on diverse job roles across priority employment sectors, including, sales in telecom and organised retail, customer service skills in BPO, telecom installation & fault repair, telecom tower equipment operations & maintenance, gems & jewellery, etc. The rewards are directly transferred to the graduates’ Aadhaar-linked bank accounts.

Therefore, in order to be a part of this programme, the government requires that each candidate be enrolled in Aadhaar, ensuring that funds go where they are intended, and that participants are rewarded accordingly.

Leveraging Aadhaar to track students and electronically certify academic and employment histories can certainly contribute to the growth of India’s economy while realising the “demographic dividend” and improving income opportunities across the population.

- By Will Poole, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Unitus Seed Fund

Source : http://forbesindia.com/blog/economy-policy/aadhaar-can-be-a-boon-for-indias-education-system/#ixzz3p6bS1bqo

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Friday, 16 October 2015

Online education is the way-forward in India

Internet bandwidths are revamping traditional modes of education with new dimensions and a better reach. Distance is no longer a barrier. Choice of course is no more a hindrance. If you prefer a course, online education-service providers will ensure that you get the best through innovative interactive means, no matter where you are.
At the recently concluded EdTech.Now conclave in Delhi, organized by WizIQ, the discussion aimed at understanding the challenges and opportunities for online education service providers.

“The whole purpose of creating a premier conclave in the form EdTech.Now was to bring together thought leaders, innovators, industry experts, educators and content providers on a common platform. We are providing ‘do-it-yourself’ platforms to online education service providers across the globe,” said Harman Singh, Founder and CEO, WizIQ.
According to Aakash Chaudhary, Director, Aakash Education, technology can enhance the abilities of teachers and make them more accountable. He said that technology can help teachers become better teachers.

Also, present during the discussion, Vikalp Jain, Co-Founder, Acadgild, online-service provider from Bengaluru said, “Online courses don’t solve problems for majority of people. We have to bring human element in online courses. Along with this, duration of the online course plays an important role in retention of the student.”
The overall opinion echoed during the discussion – interaction is the way-forward in the changing education culture in India. Brick-mortar models are not completely passe but online courses are gradually gaining ground owing to their flexibility and low cost.
The online course offered by Aakash Institute, for instance, costs 1/4th the price of the offline course.

Plus, it comes with live tutoring mechanism, which allows students to access course without aid of any teachers. Students can later submit their doubts, which will be clarified by subject-matter experts through online mode. The company runs such virtual classroom models in Kota, Malda, Kharaghpur, Cuttack and Chandigarh.
Running on virtual classroom format is another Startup Embibe. Started in November 2012, the company helps students prepare for engineering and medical exams, through a completely online mode.

“We try to provide private virtual teacher to every student through data sense driven engine. Our goal is to help students learn and score higher by identifying their weaknesses which could be related to time management while appearing for exams, overcoming careless mistakes or gaining better clarity over concepts,” said Aditi Avasthi, CEO, Embibe.
She added that through this platform, she is trying to help students become confident individuals by helping them realize their true potential.

Source:- http://www.financialexpress.com/article/industry/jobs/online-education-is-the-way-forward-in-india/151934/

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Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Importance of technical education in India

India is witnessing the age of science and technology. In our everyday life and in every sphere of our life the influence of science and technology is becoming so pervasive that man’s existence in this world is simply inconceivable in their absence today. The pattern of life evolving in this age is very much different from the one we would find in our society even some fifty years back. This is why, to train our people in response to the need of the time, our education must be reorganized to give it the necessary practical and technical bias. Such education alone can produce the specialized armies for making and operating the modern machines. Technical Education imparts knowledge of specific trade, craft or profession. Technical Education can meet the expanding demands of expanding society and to meet its multiplying demands. The industries, mechanized systems and scientific research centers all over the world prove beyond doubt that our tie with the past is snapped and instead of bare hands we must use machines and technological devices for all-round development and regeneration of human society. So there is huge demand for technical education in modern age.
In India, the education was thoroughly reorganized stressing on the importance of science and technology. The present education system in India mainly comprises of primary education, secondary education, senior secondary education and higher education. Elementary education consists of eight years of education. Each of secondary and senior secondary education consists of two years of education. Higher education in India starts after passing the higher secondary education or the 12th standard. Depending on the stream, doing graduation in India can take three to five years. Post graduate courses are generally of two to three years of duration. After completing post graduation, some of the students do research work.
Technical Education plays a vital role in human resource development of the country by creating skilled manpower, enhancing industrial productivity and improving the quality of life. The Technical Education refers to post secondary courses of study and practical training after 10th in Polytechnics and after 12th in Engineering colleges/NITs/IITs etc which are aimed at preparation of technicians to work as supervisory staff. The term Vocational Training refers to lower level education and training for the population of skilled or semi-skilled workers in various trades after 8th or 10th in ITIs.
Technical Education is instrumental in making the remarkable contribution to economic growth of the Developing Countries by way of suitable manpower production according to the needs of the Industry, Society and the Global World as a whole. To produce fully skilled manpower/ knowledgeable technocrats in the present era of science and technology is the need of the hour.

Technical Education covers degree and diploma courses and programmes in engineering & technology, management, architecture, town planning, pharmacy and applied arts & crafts, hotel management and catering technology.

Polytechnic education has responded to the challenges of industrialization for self-reliance. Most of the polytechnics in the country offer three year generalized diploma courses in conventional disciplines such as Civil, Electrical Mechanical, Automobile Engineering. During the last two decades many polytechnics started offering courses in other disciplines such as Electronics, Computer Science, Medical Lab technology, Instrumentation & Control, Architectural Assistantship, Leather Technology, Textile Technology etc. Many diploma programmes are also being offered exclusively for women in Women’s Polytechnics such as in Garment Technology, Beauty Culture and Textile Design. Polytechnics are meant to provide skills after class X and the duration of diploma programmes is three years, which means, the trainee becomes employable at the age of 19 years.  The aim of the polytechnic education is to create a pool of skill based manpower to support shop floor and field operations as a middle level link between technicians and engineers. The pass-outs of Diploma level Institutions in Engineering & Technology play an important role in managing shop-floor operations. It is further an established fact that small & medium Industry prefer to employ Diploma Holders because of their special skills in reading and interpreting drawings, estimating, costing & billing, supervision, measurement, testing, repair, maintenance etc.

For the economic development and to ensure a place for India in the community of prosperous nations technical education was given the due importance. Besides this, in this age of unemployment, only technical education can assure one of a job and a comfortable living. Those who are still in the conventional institutions, passing examination that have little relevance in the modern systems, find no opportunities of employment. And, quite naturally, they are victims of frustration and find themselves alienated from the mainstream of modern world. With their stereo-typed general education without any specialization and professional skill they acquire nothing to contribute to the progress and prosperity of the human society. They are quite aware of this and this awareness leaves them demoralized.

India has one of the largest technical manpower in the world. However, compared to its population it is not significant and there is a tremendous scope of improvement in this area. In India, the emphasis has been on general education, with technical and vocational education at the receiving end. This has resulted in large number of educated people remaining unemployed. This phenomenon has now been recognised by the planners and hence there is a greater thrust on vocationalisation of education.

During the last decade, India has seen a tremendous increase in the number of Engineering Colleges at Degree level and Polytechnics Colleges at Diploma level throughout the country.

Another shortcoming in the area of technical and vocational education is that till now, the number of engineers graduating is more than the diploma holders. This is creating an imbalance, as more workforces are required at the lower level. Hence more polytechnics and Institute for Industrial Training (ITIs) are being opened now. Under Government of India scheme of “Sub-mission on Polytechnics” new polytechnics has been set up in every district of the state. In our State in the year 2012, 18 new polytechnic college were opened in each uncovered district. The vocationalisation of education has received a boost with present Govt of India allocating more funds for the purpose under skill development. Besides, it is also being ensured that the marginalised sections of the society, including women, get adequate representation in these courses. It can thus be hoped that Technical and vocational education will play a major role in improving the lives of the people of India.
(The author is Principal Government  Polytechnic College Kathua)

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