Published: 17th January 2018
Assessment should engage people, not frighten them: Anita Rampal
The panelists agreed that there should be a change in the way that we approach assessment in our education institutions and focus more on inculcating employable skills
Remember the 1976 Bollywood hit Chitchor? Taking us down memory lane, Sunil Palliwal, Principal Secretary for Higher Education, Tamil Nadu recalled how the father of the heroine in the film was upset because she fell in love with a diploma holder and not the engineer her father had chosen for her. "There's not much that has changed, sadly," he said, speaking as part of a panel that discussed what India's new education policy should contain.
"We as a nation are somehow more fascinated by a graduate degree than a vocational degree. Even though the employability of a person who holds a diploma might be much better today that of an engineer, we somehow feel that a diploma holder has not completed their education. That's what is lacking in our attitude towards higher education," he added.
So how can education policies be framed to enhance the growth of individuals as well as the country at large? What are the factors to consider and what are the challenges posed — these were some of the questions answered at the ThinkEdu Conclave.
In conclusion: The panelists with Prabhu Chawla, editorial director, The New Indian Express
To begin with, Anita Rampal, Professor of Education at Delhi University explained that the policy needed to define what learning really means. "Thinking fearlessly, creatively, innovatively and with empathy, that is what education is all about," she said. "Getting into assessment methods like PISA would be damaging. Assessment should be a task that engages people and teaches people, not frighten them. We cannot create a thinking environment under fear of failure or detention," she adds.
She went on to talk about how damaging it is to label children as laggards or bright sparks. "Children should be able to learn from each other. Learning is not about 'me' or 'my marks', it's about how we learn together and transform the world," she says.
However, one of the main challenges that all the panelists agreed upon was the fact that graduates are unable to find jobs. "This year, India ranked 60 at the Global Innovation rank. The most important metric is the innovation output to the per capita GDP in which our country stands first, which means that as a country, we have the capacity to innovate," said S Vaidhyasubramaniam, Dean, Sastra Deemed University, who chaired the session.
"We are producing about 5 million grads every year, but the requirement is only 2 million. What we require is people who have vocational skills. Every academic curriculum should be able to provide employable skills. There should be an introduction of programmes that have relevance to industry standards," added Rajiv Mathur, COO, NSDC. Anita went a step further to emphasise why there should be no divide between skill and knowledge. "Every child should be taught to learn with mind, head and heart," she stated.