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Learner’s Park; Pranay Agarwal of Indian Social Science Council on technology and Indian education system

Pranay Agarwal, president, Indian Social Science Council shares his views on opportunities and challenges of the Indian education system with FE Education Online.

What is the best thing about today’s education system?

Today’s education system is democratic in nature. Various stakeholders in the education system – education administrators, teachers, students, parents, governments, and edupreneurs are jointly taking proactive steps to enhance the education landscape through innovative means. Accessibility to education is far greater than it used to be. The quality of infrastructure of schools and colleges, including public ones, has improved considerably.

What is the one thing you would like to change in the system?

The emphasis on rote learning and obsession with marks and grades has killed the joy of learning. Although this system develops competitiveness, it does not ensure the all-around development of the students. We need to nurture young minds holistically. We have neglected the non-material aspects of education, such as the cultivation of the mind and building strong character. The arts and sports are not given due importance in our education system. We need to focus on not just ensuring students’ employability but also nurturing young minds who can contribute to transforming society and culture.

What is the role digital technology has played in the education system?

The application of digital technologies in education has immensely impacted the education system. Digitization of content has led to the democratization of knowledge. Now, anyone can learn about any subject and any topic at just the click of a button. There is a substantial shift in the virtual learning environment. Also, learning is no more age or time-barred and can be continued virtually forever. Education also becomes far more fun online with interactive sessions and the use of audio-visual aides; than conventional classroom teaching. I’d say that the full impact of digital technology on education is yet to be felt. It can fundamentally transform the education system, mostly for the better.

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What has been the disadvantage of digital technology in education?

Access to digital tools and the internet in the country is not equal for all sections. A very real digital divide exists along the lines of class, gender, and urban-rural. An increase in the screen time of young children and digital addiction are also concerns. Also, personal communication between students and teachers has decreased due to digital excess. The ancient Indian learning tradition rested on the Guru-Shishya parampara – in daily social interaction, the teacher helped the students to learn about not just the subjects taught; but also life, character building, and personality development. The digital mode of education may not be able to replicate this valuable tradition.

What is the career advice you would like to give to students?

Students should try to understand themselves better. Knowing oneself is of utmost importance while choosing a career.
Building a career is a long drawn and tedious process. So, develop patience and the ability to take informed decisions regarding your choice of career.

Careers get built over time through qualities that we develop during the process of learning. So, focus on nurturing good qualities and building a sound life system- which is created through good habits, right conduct, virtue, and a proper work ethic. Aspire to build competence and pursue excellence as it will immensely help your career in the long run. Enjoy the process of preparation and learning instead of just obsessing over the Result.

Also read: How artificial intelligence and virtual reality are changing the way children learn

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