The prolonged closure of all education institutions following outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, aka Covid-19 which has infected over 7.6 million people and precipitated 428,000 fatalities worldwide, and 332,000 and 9,520 in India, has caused unprecedented disruption of Indian education across the spectrum from preprimaries, all the way up to universities. School leaving and college semester exams of the academic year 2019-20 have been postponed and classes of the academic year 2020-21 which should have begun in early June, are delayed indefinitely. There’s no doubt that learning outcomes at all levels in Indian education which were far from satisfactory even prior to the pandemic, will be hit hard.
At this crucial time in the sorry education history of post-independence India which has criminally failed and neglected to develop the country’s abundant and high-potential human resource, there’s urgent and critical need for experienced education leaders with proven track records in school and higher education to venture forth from their islands of excellence and confront the bigger challenge of reviving the country’s pre-primary, K-12 and higher education systems rendered comatose by the 68-day nationwide lockdown decreed by prime minister Narendra Modi from March 25.
This hope and confidence in the capabilities of the country’s best education leaders has prompted the unprecedented cover story in this second issue of EducationWorld produced during the Covid-19 national lockdown period. If all the cross spectrum reforms suggested by our selected 50 great education leaders — their number would have been greater if several others had responded in time — are collated, they would add up to an alternative to the draft National Education Policy 2019 submitted to the Union HRD ministry in May last year. Many thanks and encomiums to the 50 education leaders featured in this issue who whole-heartedly cooperated with your editors to make this monumental enterprise possible.
If past experience is any guide, it’s unlikely the mandarins of the Union HRD ministry in New Delhi who seem to live in an entirely different universe, will study the constructive education reform, restructuring and development recommendations made by the stellar institutional leaders with enviable track records, featured in this unprecedented cover story. However, our hope is that committed academics, the intelligentsia and not least parents, who are aware of the vital importance of high-quality preschool to Ph D education for the survival and prosperity of the next generation in the uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world that is already upon us, will examine their recommendations and coalesce to form a strong and committed pressure group for durable structural, pedagogy and curriculum reforms in Indian education. Else all is lost.