CHENNAI: What do we do if 65 per cent of children in the education system get prepped for jobs that do not yet exist? Newly minted Chairman of Tata Sons, N Chandrasekaran minced no words in highlighting the urgency needed to bridge this gap between education provided and skills needed. “Because,” in his words, “We don’t have time!”
Delivering the keynote address at The New Indian Express’ ThinkEdu Conclave, the Chairman of the salt-to-software conglomerate shot out a combination of digital and cultural solutions to fast-track changes that a nation with 350 million citizens in an outdated education system needs. This transformation should revolve around a digital pivot, he said. “Expanding access to the digital world for children across the country can brush away the twin hurdles of access to education and the quality of content and teaching... both very fundamental problems”.
But the solution implemented also needs to ensure that the students in the system now, can be employed when they pass out. “There are 350 million children who are going through the current system and they cannot wait.”
The solution, from Chandrasekar’s point of view, is going ‘Phygital’. That is, utilising our existing physical capabilities in education enhanced by a “veneer of digital” solutions. The change will also need to be cultural, enabling a multimodal system of education - because schools and colleges alone cannot satisfy the urgency needed.
If something is gamified, children will learn it (at the snap of a finger). If you put a digital veneer to physical capability, it will bring more access, inclusion and will allow students to be multimodal,” he pointed out. Alongside this digital enabling, India’s systems will need a demystification of specialities, because another crisis already facing us — humongous shortage of teachers, judges and doctors. “To bring about this convergence, we need to create para-specialists... demystify these professions. Letting others do non-specialist jobs will also allow specialists to cater to huge volumes,” he explained.