India can emerge as a major center of global education in the world
Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Samagam’ is being organized on the holy land (Varanasi), where an important university of the country was established before independence. This congregation is taking place at a time when the country is celebrating the Amrit Mahotsav of its independence.
The great responsibility of fulfilling the virtuous resolutions of the country during ‘Amrit Kaal’ lies on our education system, on our young generation. It is also written in the Upanishads विद्यया अमृतम् अश्नुते i.e., knowledge leads to immortality and nectar. Kashi is also called the city of salvation because the only way of liberation is considered to be knowledge. Therefore, when such a great churning of education and research, learning and understanding, happens in the important centre of knowledge in Kashi, the nectar emanating from it will surely give a new direction to the country.
As you are aware, the basic premise of the National Education Policy (made by our government) is to take education out of narrow thinking and to integrate it with the modern ideas of the 21st century. There was never a dearth of intellect and talent in our country. But, unfortunately, we inherited a system where education meant only securing jobs. During their rule, the British provided this education system to prepare a servant class for themselves to meet their needs. Though there were minor changes in it after independence, much remained unchanged. The system created by the British was never part of Indian ethos and it can’t be.
If we look at the ancient times of our country, we had the concept of different arts in education. And Banaras is a living example of this. Banaras was the center of knowledge not only because it had good Gurukuls and educational institutions. Banaras was the center of knowledge because knowledge and education here was multi-dimensional and multi-sector. This diversity in education should also be the source of inspiration for our education system. We should not only create degree-holder youth, but prepare an education system which should provide whatever human resources needed for the country to move forward. Our teachers and educational institutions should take a lead in this resolve. The faster our teachers imbibe this spirit, the more the youth and the students will benefit and so will be the future of the country.
The creation of new systems, the inclusion of modern systems, is equally important for a new India. What has never happened before and the goals that the country did not even imagine to achieve are actually being realized in today’s India. Now you see, not only did we recover rapidly from such a big pandemic of Corona, today India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. Today we are the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world. Areas such as space technology which were only the domain of the government earlier have been thrown open to the private players. Now a new world is being prepared for the youth and the whole space is within their reach, friends. Today the sectors, which were barred for daughters of the country earlier, are exemplifying their talent.
When the mood and the pace of the country is such then we also have to instill new energy in our youth so that it can give wings to their dreams. Until now, schools, colleges and books used to decide the direction of the children. But now the responsibility on the youth has increased even more after the National Education Policy. And with this, our responsibility too has increased to continuously encourage the dreams and flight of the youth and understand their mind and aspirations. Only then will we be able to prepare them. Gone are the days when the youths of the country were imposed anything without recognizing their talent. We have to always keep this in mind that we have to prepare education, institutions and human resource development according to their needs.
The focus of the new education policy is to make the children skilled according to their talents and choices. The education policy is preparing the ground so that our youth are skilled, confident, practical and calculative.
We should also be aware of other universities of the world and in which direction they are moving. Where does our country figure? Where do our youths figure? How I am preparing the youth who would be in charge of India in the next 15-20 years. This is our enormous responsibility, friends. And on the same lines, all our educational institutions also need to ask themselves whether they are future ready. Is it only my duty to take exams and hold convocations or should I create such an institution whose students would be playing an important role in the completion of 100 years of the country’s independence? All of you need to take care of the present. You have to carry forward the work of your predecessors. And those who are working today will have to think about the future and develop systems accordingly.
It would be a great injustice if we are not able to live up to the young generation which would be there in the schools and colleges with a new thinking. Therefore, it is necessary that we understand the future and develop systems accordingly. I went to see an exhibition in Gandhinagar a few days back under the Digital India campaign. There were children from government schools. There were children in the 10th, 11th and 12th class. I was impressed by the work of these children looking at their projects and ideas. I was stunned to see their research potential and their innovations at such a young age. Many children were interested in biotech and genetics. At a time when they were taught the fundamentals of science in their class, they were talking about gene mapping, affinity chromatography and genetic library based tools. Now imagine how big the difference is. Looking at their work, I was wondering if our institutes will be prepared according to their modern thinking when they go for higher education. If we wait for these children to reach their higher education, by then the world will go a long way, friends. Therefore, we have to plan now to provide guidance and resources at this age when the children are motivated. We should work on creating such a system in our institutions.
The National Education Policy is going to complete two years at the end of this month, i.e., on July 29. The acceptance of the National Education Policy in such a diverse country is a great achievement in itself. It is a great accomplishment. But look at its specialty. There was a lot of brainstorming behind it. And as it happens with the governments, once a document is ready it is left at the mercy of time and some persons. The document adorns the table for a few days. Then a new document comes and replaces it. The matter ends there. You too must have the same experience of this culture. But we didn’t let that happen.
We have kept this National Education Policy alive every moment. I myself have probably attended at least 25 seminars in such a short time. I think there must be over 25 seminars and I have been regularly speaking on this subject. All the departments of the government are constantly reaching out to various people. It has come about after 30 years and can’t be merely treated as any other document.
The country has taken many concrete steps towards implementing the National Education Policy in these two years. In the meantime, workshops on important topics like Access, Quality and Future Readiness have also helped a lot. The discussions with the academicians of the country and abroad and my interactions with the education ministers of the country have also speeded up the process.
Major infrastructure overhaul has been carried out in the education sector of the country for the new National Education Policy. Today a large number of new colleges and universities are opening and new IITs and IIMs are being established. Since 2014, the number of medical colleges in the country has increased by 55 percent. In order to give better opportunities to the youth, Common University Entrance Test (CUET) has also been implemented from this year for uniform standards across universities. Many more such reforms have been carried out. It is the result of these efforts that the number of Indian institutions in the World University Rankings is gradually increasing. This change is only the beginning. We still have a long way to go in this direction.
I am also satisfied that the National Education Policy is now opening the way for studies in the mother tongue. Accordingly, ancient Indian languages like Sanskrit are also being promoted. I can see special arrangements have also been made here for the people associated with Sanskrit. This beginning from the land of Kashi will surely serve to give new energy to Indian languages and resolutions.
I have full faith that India can emerge as a major center of global education in the world in the near future. India can not only become an education destination for the youth of the world, but also new opportunities can be created for our youth in other countries of the world. Therefore, we have to prepare our education system as per international standards. The country is also making continuous efforts in this direction. New guidelines have been issued to prepare higher education according to international standards. Special offices for international affairs have also been established in about 180 higher education institutions. I would like all of you not only to have necessary discussions in this direction, but also try to familiarize with the arrangements outside India. These new systems will also help in connecting India’s education system with international experiences.
(Excerpts of the Prime Minister’s speech at inauguration of Akhil Bhartiya Shiksha Samagam in Varanasi on 07 JUL 2022)