New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday met nearly 100 centrally funded technical institutions, including Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), and asked them to make education flexible in sync with current market requirements, and emphasized the need to develop technology education in Indian languages.
This is the first meeting of PM Modi after he reshuffled the union council of ministers on Wednesday that saw the appointment of Dharmendra Pradhan as the new education minister and exit of Ramesh Pokhriyal. Pradhan also attended the meeting.
PM Modi said there is a need to move towards “education models that are flexible, seamless and able to provide learning opportunities as per the requirements of the learners”. He underlined the need for affordable technology-driven education and asked institutions to “adapt higher education and technical education…in tune with the changing environment and emerging challenges.”
He added that this requires the institutions to reinvent and re-evaluate themselves, develop alternative and innovative models in accordance with the present and future needs of the country and society and “emphasized that our higher educational and technical institutions need to prepare our youth for continuous disruptions and changes, keeping in mind the fourth industrial revolution,” according to a statement from the PMO.
“We need to develop an ecosystem of technological education in Indian languages and translate global journals into regional languages,” the PMO statement said.
Engineering and technology education in regional languages has been on the table for the past one and a half years. While the JEE Main is now being offered in over a dozen languages including Hindi and English beginning 2021, the JEE Advanced, through which IITs admit students, are yet to have more choices. There are several challenges in making technology and engineering education in mother tongue, including lack of enough faculty, books and study materials in vernaculars, and a genuine fear of losing global competitiveness.
The Prime Minister underlined the need to progress towards education models that are flexible, seamless, and able to provide learning opportunities as per the requirements of the learners. He said that access, affordability, equity, and quality should be the core values of such education models.
While underlining the need for quality infrastructure in higher educational institutions, he also asked top R&D institutions to focus on developing futuristic solutions in fields of education, healthcare, agriculture, defense, and cyber technologies. And asked the institutions to ensure that products associated with artificial intelligence, smart wearables, augmented reality systems, and digital assistants reach the common man.
During the interaction, Govindan Rangarajan director of IISc Bangalore, IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhuri, Bhaskar Ramamurthim director of IIT Madras, and Abhay Karandikar director of IIT Kanpur, gave presentations to the PM on ongoing work on R&D projects.
The PM was given an update about the growing higher education enrolment in the country and the technology adoption in the sector. As per latest data, total enrolment in higher education has been estimated to be 38.5 million with 19.6 million boys and 18.9 million female students in 2019-20.
The survey showed that the gross enrolment ratio (GER) in higher education in India is 27.1, which is calculated for the 18-23 years of age group. GER for male population is 26.9 and for female, it is 27.3. For scheduled castes, it is 23.4 and for scheduled tribes, it is 18.0 as compared to the national GER of 27.1.
About 79.5% of students are enrolled in undergraduate-level courses and the maximum number of students are enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts program followed by Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Commerce.
COURTESY – THE MINT