On December 3, 2028, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed January 24 as International Day of Education to ensure that education, which is a human right, is assured to all. The UN believes that “education plays a key role in building sustainable and resilient societies, and contributes to the achievement of all other Sustainable Development Goals. 2023 marks the 5th International Day of Education and the theme for this year is “to invest in people, prioritize education.”
This year, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) dedicates the International Day of Education to Afghan girls and women, who have been denied the right to study, learn and teach. “No country in the world should bar women and girls from receiving an education. Education is a universal human right that must be respected. The international community has the responsibility to ensure that the rights of Afghan girls and women are restored without delay. The war against women must stop,” Aundrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General said.
While women and children in Afghanistan are directly denied the right to education, millions of children and youth worldwide are also victims of lack of education. According to UNESCO, 224 million children and youth are out of schools today, and 771 million adults are illiterate. The lack of inclusivity and unequal access to education are leaving children and youth behind. Achieving gender equality and eradicating poverty can majorly contribute to the education of more people, the UNESCO believes.
How do we bridge inequalities in access to education? How do we ensure education is accessible to all irrespective of social class? Can technology play a key role?
The advent of technology has helped in making education more affordable today. Our society has become more and more dependent on technology. There is a tremendous potential in digital technologies, and it stands as a ray of hope for positive transformations in the education sector.
While there is still a need to improve access to digital education among school children belonging to disadvantaged groups, technology is a gamechanger in the higher education mode. Online courses have become popular today, and have helped youth upskill like never before. The big boon of technology and online learning is that they cater to people from all walks of life. Anybody from any part of the world can take up an online course or program from any university. Our country stands as the biggest example for making use of technology to improve access and quality of education.
The National Education Policy
In December 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “a forward-looking and futuristic education system was being created in the country through the new National Education Policy (NEP).”
The NEP strongly supports the integration of technology into education. India’s Education Ministry aims at using technology in education planning, teaching, learning and most importantly, in assessment. The government also aims to improve access to disadvantaged groups, for instance, developing a user-friendly education software for people with disabilities.
A new-age digital university
India is all set to launch its first National Digital University (NDU) this year. The launch of the digital university is seen as a major development in India’s higher education. The National Digital University will offer online courses from its partner universities. The university will function in a hub-and-spoke model, which means a one product is delivered from a central location to multiple stakeholders. The digital content would be hosted by the government’s SWAYAM (Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds) portal. All the courses will be made accessible to students on a single portal hosted by SWAYAM.
According to reports, there will be an unlimited number of seats for every course. The NDU aims to integrate today’s youth and prepare them for today’s fast-paced world. It will help them upskill and reskill to compete in today’s dynamic industry landscape.
Technological transformations have made impactful influences across sectors, and education is no exception. Technology is helping improve access to education, enhanced the quality of curriculum, and has brought about an immersive learning experience to students. While millions of children and youth are denied education for multiple reasons, technology can be a gamechanger in achieving the world’s educational aspirations.
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