Your cover story analysing the reasons why India pulled out of PISA 2022 (EW January) was well argued.
Let’s face it! The time has come for India to accept that years of education neglect has resulted in poor student learning outcomes. We need to devise strategies to overhaul teaching-learning. Running away from competition can never be a solution.
The first issue of the year made absorbing reading, especially your thought-provoking cover story ‘India opts out of PISA: prudence or cowardice?’ (EW January). The BJP government’s U-turn on India’s participation in OECD’s global reading, science and math attainments test for 15-year-olds is disappointing, especially after it expressed its firm resolve to participate.
The writing is clear on the wall. Our K-12 education system is obsolete and addicted to rote learning and memorisation pedagogies as manifest in the pathetic outcomes of our students in PISA 2009. The NAS (National Achievement Survey) 2021 survey results are also a national embarrassment for the BJP government. I agree with Prof. Geeta Kingdon that domestic testing can never compare with international testing. PISA 2022 was indeed a ‘missed opportunity’ to measure the standing of our 15-year-olds against their global counterparts.
Discriminatory & casteist
In your Education News titled ‘Toilets cleaning row’ in Karnataka (EW January), it’s not shameful that children are being made to clean toilets of their schools. What’s shameful is that only children of government schools are being made to do so. Prof. Seetharamu has cited the example of Japan where all children — including those in private schools — are assigned classroom/toilet cleaning duties. But it’s clear from the Karnataka incident that only poor children are being asked to clean toilets. This is discriminatory and casteist.
The success stories of two young achievers (EW January) — Anandkumar (speed skating) and Anahat Singh (squash) — raised in sports loving families was inspirational.
It’s very heartening that progressive parents are encouraging children to take up sports without being overly obsessed with academics. Also, it’s great to read that schools/colleges are offering budding sportspersons institutional support to pursue sports professionally.
Your well-written Special Report detailing the UGC’s discretionary rules and regulations for setting up foreign university campuses in India is warning that this initiative will have few takers.
I fully agree with Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta that universities cannot flourish without academic freedom and autonomy. For the world’s top universities, autonomy is a serious and live issue. If we want to attract the world’s best to India, our higher education regulators need to learn to respect this concept.
Red carpet caution
Your Special Report ‘Half-hearted invitation to foreign universities’ (EW January) was interesting. However, I don’t fully agree with your argument that the UGC regulations are onerous and will dissuade foreign universities from setting up campuses in India.
Let me bring to your notice that officials of Deakin University, the first foreign varsity to set up a campus in Gujarat’s GIFT City, have been quoted in the media detailing how the formal process was smoothly completed within 11 months, a time frame that they are happy about.
Laying out a red carpet is good. But let’s remember it is our house and we can’t let everyone in. Checks and balances are required.
Your Teacher-2-Teacher essay ‘ChatGPT can reshape children’s learning’ (EW January) succinctly explains how AI’s immense power can be used to make teaching-learning more personalised.
The advent of AI is an exciting development in education and I hope that all teachers will be trained adequately in deploying this wonder technology in their classrooms.