India Looks to Improve Arts, Tech, Safety in Schools

According to renowned Indian artist K G Subramanyan, the education system in India needs to focus on the future.

Subramanyan was speaking to the art institutions in the country, which he says must be updated for artists to take advantage of new technology available for visual communication.  However, his thoughts are being considered more generally throughout the country’s education system.

Indian educationalist Jagdish Gandhi is asking for an overhaul to the country’s educational content, in an effort to broaden students’ perspectives from “narrow nationalism to globalism.”

“Looking at the changing world scenario, the content of education for the 21st century must be different from that of the 20th century. It must broaden a child’s perspective from narrow nationalism to globalism,” Gandhi told PTI in United Nations.

Gandhi stresses the need for a “balanced” education that offers religious and spiritual values as well as law, order and justice.  He also said a child’s education should be a social one, offering solutions to the current issues of terrorism and violence.

Gandhian scholar and Veer Narmad South Gujarat University former professor Dilip Shah agrees.

“The Gandhian Basic Education System is a harmonious combination of education through body, mind and heart, which is supposed to develop people-centric, character-centric and craft-centric education. For this specific reason, the basic education concept is based primarily on mother tongue.”

Improvements are sought after in other areas of education within the country as well.  The Save Daughters, Educate Daughters campaign is looking to revamp the safety of schools for girls’ education.  There are currently 3.8 million girls in the country who are not attending school, and many of them stay home due to unsafe school conditions.  As of 2011, 53% of Indian schools had no toilets, forcing students to expose themselves outside and creating a significant safety hazard for girls especially.

Currently the budget for the campaign is about $16.5 million (1 billion rupees), with additional funding set aside for safety in large cities as well as while on public transportation.

In a major push towards adding new technology, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to use ‘the cloud’ to free up physical space, giving each citizen a ‘digital locker’ that will contain any document issued by the government, including education, medical and birth records.  A protocol will be established allowing individuals within the government to see the documents without needing a physical copy.

“The Prime Minister was very clear that he didn’t want copies of certificates issued by the government itself to be carried around by people to government offices for various services. For example, if a student is applying for a government college and has studied in a government-aided school, his birth certificate, identity details and educational certificates, school-leaving details et al should be accessible by organisations where he is applying. Similarly for medical records,” said Information and technology secretary Ram Sewak Sharma.