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LifeLongLearning will be the way forward for education sector in 2022

The panel comprised the who’s who of the education sector, who are leading this transformation and moderated by Founder, Editorji, Vikram Chandra.Premium
The panel comprised the who’s who of the education sector, who are leading this transformation and moderated by Founder, Editorji, Vikram Chandra.

As India celebrated National Education Day on November 11, a virtual panel discussion, ‘The changing face of education in India in a post pandemic world: Roadmap for 2022’, organised by Hindustan Times and upGrad delved into the disruption that the education sector has seen since the pandemic hit, the changes brought in by the new National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and what the path ahead looks like.

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The education sector has been a witness to massive disruption since the pandemic hit in early 2020. As classrooms swiftly moved online to maintain continuity of teaching and learning, the change also opened-up a world of new opportunities bringing quality education within the purview of a much larger section of our population.

Soon after, the Government of India introduced the new National Education Policy, NEP 2020, which envisages a target Gross Enrolment Ratio – which is the ratio of population in the 18-23 age group to the number of people enrolled in higher education – of 50 per cent for the country by 2025. This is going to be a big game changer for the country, where the GER touched 27.1 per cent in 2019-20, up from 26.3 per cent in 2018-19.

On the occasion of the National Education Day on November 11, a virtual panel discussion titled ‘The changing face of education in India in a post pandemic world: Roadmap for 2022’, organised by Hindustan Times and upGrad threw up interesting insights about the disruption that the education sector has seen over the past 18 months, key learnings, and what the path ahead looks like. The panel comprised the who’s who of the education sector, who are leading this transformation and moderated by Founder, Editorji, Vikram Chandra.

“It is important to understand that we have achieved universal access to education and the GER has also gone up by about 10 percentage points over a decade. There is a transformative power of technology which has the potential to improve learning outcomes in classrooms across a wide spectrum of levels in a radical and quick manner. I am delighted that the NEP 2020 has really gone big on the use of technology for improving student achievements," said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.

Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog on digitization and democratization of education
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Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog on digitization and democratization of education

The shift to digital came with its share of challenges for a country like India where infrastructure is limited, and teachers and training resources needed to be adapted for virtual learning. “Teachers who were used to teaching in a small live classroom now have to address students online and at the same time keep their interest in the subject alive. The nature of teaching and learning has transformed and there is a need for training of our faculty members in this new mode," said Prof Anil D Sahasrabudhe, AICTE Chairman.

Prof Anil D Sahasrabudhe, AICTE Chairman on the need for innovation in learning
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Prof Anil D Sahasrabudhe, AICTE Chairman on the need for innovation in learning

But a year and a half into the pandemic, the advantages that the online learning landscape has brought are getting highlighted and a much larger number of people are trying to upskill themselves. Learning, now, is no longer limited only to school and university students. The panel also discussed whether this trend is here to stay.

“The first thing we need to accept is the theme of LifeLongLearning which means that learning cannot be bridged into school or college as an event but as a long-term event. Second, education at the end of the day is about outcomes – when as a learner, you have learnt more or specialised, or you can get yourself gainful employment, that’s the day when the roads will cross. Technology will enable, especially in India, a lot more people to go online to make it an inclusive medium vs the exclusive medium that universities are," said Ronnie Screwvala, Chairperson and Co-founder, upGrad.

Ronnie Screwvala, Chairperson and Co-founder, upGrad on importance of LifeLongLearning
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Ronnie Screwvala, Chairperson and Co-founder, upGrad on importance of LifeLongLearning

For the industry, this comes as a chance to create a workforce that is job ready and make the country a storehouse of high-quality talent for the rest of the world. “I think this is a fantastic time for us to take a pause and reimagine the whole business of education. Companies today are doing away with the whole campus recruitments and have launched their own assessments to remove any barriers to entry. All these changes are happening where we have to strengthen the connection between education and employability and strengthen how we think Vs what we know, which NEP puts a lot of focus on," said Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM.

Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM on strengthening connection between education and employability
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Debjani Ghosh, President, NASSCOM on strengthening connection between education and employability

Stressing further on the importance of reskilling, Prof Sahasrabudhe said: “The outcomes for all degrees or certifications also should have expiry dates. And whatever you learn whether face to face or in online mode can be applied with innovation only in internships. We have an internship portal with 67 lakh students registered on our portal and just 11.8 lakh internship opportunities are available."

Studies show that as many as 50 per cent of Indian businesses are not able to find the right candidate for the job because they lack the skills, even though they may be highly educated.

“Today what the online medium can do is groom people to be a lot more 360 degree and a lot more oriented. In India, for us to be able to take our level of understanding of soft skills up will really get augmented by technology and online, which allows more time for these skills. This will take your professional skills to a completely different level," said Screwvala.

There needs to be a strong focus on life skills that are taught along with the academic curriculum. “One of the top CEOs once told me, we hire for how you think, and we train you on the rest. Therefore, employability comes down to the soft skills. The demand for digital talent is six million more than the supply in the top 6-7 countries and it is growing. Given that there is such a big crisis, this is a tremendous opportunity for India to become a talent hub," Ghosh added.

The government also recently released the National Digital Education Architecture which lays down the framework to energize and catalyse the digital educational ecosystem, which will enable a student sitting in the remotest corner of the country to access the best learning resources and faculties from India and abroad.

“NDEA has laid down standards for products and content which any private player could use and plug in their products. This is going to be a transformation like never before in the higher education space," said Kant.

After all this disruption, 2022 seems promising. “The theme is definitely one of LifeLongLearning. Everyone is talking about the Meta universe so in a real world, you can be offline and online at the same time. Actually, the technology platforms online allow you for peer-to-peer learning at your choice and time even more than what a real world university would do," Screwvala said.

The half-day event concluded with the release of upGrad’s much awaited Half Yearly Career Trends Report by Mayank Kumar, its Co-Founder and Managing Director. The report delved into the 6-month hiring and placement trends at upGrad across the domains of Technology, BFSI, New Economy, among others. It further underlined the skills and roles in demand, top hiring companies, compensation trends and much more.

Aligned with the company’s mission of driving meaningful career outcomes, the report also delineated the career outcome numbers for upGrad, who has witnessed a 1233 per cent increase in AMJ 2021 vs AMJ 2020, and 1149 per cent increase in JAS 2021 vs JAS 2020 in terms of career transitions of its learners, indicating green shoots ahead. Some of the top companies that have hired from upGrad’s learner pool in HY2021-22 include Gartner, Xiaomi, Accenture, Infosys, TCS and Deloitte, amongst others.

While Mayank Kumar touched upon the key highlights, the EdTech major upGrad is now set to release the extensive version of the Half Yearly Career Trends Report soon.

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