How India as a young nation is moving towards rebuilding through education and skill development tells Union Minister for Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Dharmendra Pradhan.
The biggest responsibility of a developed India is on youth and education. For this, what steps have been taken in the last three years under the new National Education Policy brought by the Central Government?
India has a huge ecosystem of education, with around 15 lakh schools, 95 lakh teachers, and 26.5 crore students. We have continuously increased the education budget. To take education to the last mile, a comprehensive approach has been adopted, and practicality and skill development have been given priority in the curriculum. Experts also say that by the age of 6, children’s brain is up to 80 percent, so we have laid special emphasis on foundation learning. Earlier India’s education system was promoting job-seeking knowledge only, but the new policy will make the youth employable. According to the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the new education system has brought new opportunities for the youth.
The new National Education Policy is completely a plan of the Central Government. Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman has also been added to this so that students do not drop out. More than 14 thousand schools in the country are being linked with the PM-SHRI scheme and prepared according to the new National Education Policy. New India Literacy Programme, a new policy for gifted children with a special focus on sign language and related books has been prepared.
The aim of New India is to provide quality education. How is the new National Education Policy setting the course for change in this direction?
After waiting for more than three decades, our government came up with a new National Education Policy to make India a knowledge-based society. Provisions have been made in the new National Education Policy to equip the youth with quality education and skills. The emphasis on education in the local language and mother tongue has been beneficial. Along with child care, formal education is introduced for the first time from the age of three. Methods like storytelling, toy based learning are being used for children. The innovative and entrepreneurial mindset is being inculcated with a scientific temper.
Moving towards making the nation a global hub of education, how is India preparing itself according to international standards?
India has been the center of knowledge-civilization for centuries. We move forward with the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. In line with the thinking of the new National Education Policy, to prepare the education system according to international standards, joint degrees with foreign universities, steps to encourage studies in India, setting up campuses of Indian universities outside India, encouraging foreign universities to establish the campus of their Institutes in India, validating the qualifications of both the places.
Digitization of education has become an essential part after Covid. What are the important efforts of the Ministry of Education in this direction?
Emphasis has been laid on digital education. For this many initiatives have been taken like SWAYAM, N-DEAR, NETF, Digital University, National Digital Library, Samarth, NTA, ITEP, PM e-Vidya DIKSHA, Vidya Samiksha Kendra Swayamprabha. Students are getting opportunities since childhood to promote research in education.
There is a keen enthusiasm among the youth regarding innovative technology. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also been giving priority to it in the schemes. How do you see?
So far, 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs have been established in the country, where students are innovating. Atal Incubation Centers across the country have been working to promote entrepreneurship from the very beginning. Virtual Labs are being set up. The curriculum is being developed according to the new era. 125 National Skill Qualification Framework is being launched.
Every now and then there is a debate in the country regarding the change in the curriculum. Has the government made some changes in the curriculum according to the new circumstances and the new era?
Bal Vatika’s outline is in the new National Education Policy to strengthen the initial foundation. It has also started as a pilot project in 49 Kendriya Vidyalayas. In the coming time, these Bal Vatikas will be started in all Kendriya Vidyalayas and CBSE schools. New books for class I and class II are ready and will be launched in this academic session. The National Curriculum Framework for School Education estimates that there will be 150 new textbooks at the elementary, middle, and secondary stages. New textbooks will be developed in regional languages and digital versions will also be made available on PM E Vidya Diksha.
India is a young country. How do you see India’s growing youth population and how it is creating new opportunities for education and skills?
India’s youth population is a great strength. The average age of the population of India is 29 years. On average, every Indian is 10 years younger than in China. We are turning the growing youth population into opportunity. Under the leadership of PM Modi, we are paying attention to grooming youth who become job creators and not job seekers. Our youth should not only create jobs but also work for themselves and society. Right now India is the country with the youngest population in the world, but in the coming time, the elderly population will also increase in India. Therefore, what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said from the ramparts of the Red Fort and what he has been saying on various forums is that this is India’s time, right time, precious time. Its intention is clear that the Prime Minister has already realized a long-term vision, so by 2047, the central government is continuously working towards making India developed-self-reliant by giving new opportunities to the aspirations, dreams, and resolutions of the young population.
Skill development is the basis of every scheme today. For the first time, Prime Minister Modi constituted a separate special ministry for this. What has been its progress so far?
The Ministry of Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship has taken the initiative of Skill Hub Centers for skill development. Its objective is to create a skilled workforce as per the demand of the industry. Emphasis has been laid on skilling, re-skilling, and up-skilling through the skill mission. 6.35 crore people have been trained so far through the initiatives of the Ministry of Skill Development and various Ministries. The youth are also being re-skilled and up-skilled in the mission. With the collaboration of Startup India, Mudra, and Standup India, youth are getting self-employment opportunities.
You are making changes in the Ministry of Education as well as Skill Development. What changes are you seeing in the education and skill development sectors? Which of the two do you consider more important?
Yes, it is true that both society and institutions have been giving more importance to education. However, now it is changing. We are living in a very different world now. However, when the Prime Minister emphasizes the importance of skills, he says that if a student in the future does not have a degree but has some skill, it will be enough. So I see only a combination of education and skill. The convergence of both education and skill development can create a holistic ecosystem that will equip individuals with knowledge and practical skills. This will increase their employment and encourage entrepreneurship.
The youth have expectations from the central government for good opportunities for education and cooperation for employment and self-employment. What is the thinking of the central government regarding this Amrit generation for a developed India and what does it expect from it?
The world is moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, India has the potential to lead through its 60 Crore youth population. This is possible by increasing the knowledge capacity of the youth. For the first time, the Apprenticeship Program has been linked to DBT, currently, 6.41 lakh apprentices are working in different industrial units of the country. Over 2.41 lakh DBT transfers have been done and Rs 35.02 crore has been disbursed so far. The announcement to set up 30 new Skill India International Centers in the country has been made in the budget for the year 2023. Work is being done with the holistic concept so that the youth of the country can be prepared according to their potential. Only then in 2047, when the country will be completing 100 years of independence, then India will stand in the category of the developed nation.
How do you see India’s G-20 Presidency? Especially in the context that the youth of India is emerging as a hope for the world?
India is poised to become a 5 trillion economy by 2025. The ecosystem of education and knowledge will play an important role in achieving this goal. There comes a time for every nation when it sets a new direction and tries to achieve it. Going beyond the Amrit Mahotsav, the Amrit generation is going to play an important role in the Navnirman of New India with the thought of knowledge creation, knowledge sharing, and world welfare. The new National Education Policy document in the recently concluded G-20 Education Ministers meeting in Pune has emerged as a hope for the world and especially for the emerging economies of the world. The new policy educates the world about India’s knowledge-based social system. Our focus is on world welfare because as Prime Minister Modi says that if India grows, the world will also grow. The aim of making India a developed nation by 2047 is not only to make India developed alone, we talk about taking the world’s humanity along. The new education policy has transformed “What is our right?” To the philosophy of “What is our responsibility?” The message of this policy is clear that do duty, and take responsibility. This is the time, the right time, to move forward with this thinking.
By 2047, the central government is continuously working towards making India developed and self-reliant by providing new opportunities to the aspirations, dreams, and resolutions of the young population.
India is a young nation, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has understood, that is why he has given a call – the time is right for Amrit Kaal, it is the precious time of India.