The importance of teachers in the Fourth Industrial Age:
Reflections on Teacher’s Day 2016.
The very first para of the Summary of recommendations ( Chapter 9) of the draft new education policy 2016 begins with:
” From ancient times, Indian thinkers and society have recognised the value of education. The Guru-Shishya Parampara is one of the earliest examples of knowledge sharing between the teacher and the student “. It laments the deterioration in teaching quality, deterioration in standards of learning and corruption in recruitment. A little later it says ‘ the focus of the new National Policy on Education is on improving the quality of education and restoring the credibility of the education system’.
But the proposals that follow are all aimed at exactly the opposite. Adding numerous bureaucratic levels in the form of a new Education Service, more and more regulators and co-ordinators in the name of quality assurance, will surely assure the death of whatever little good education is happening.
Another organ of the Government, the Department of Science and Technology through TIFAC released a report around March 2016 that was endorsed by the PM.
This report is called India Technology Vision 2035 and the section on education has the following prophecy, with full certainty and no qualifying if, but, maybe or perhaps.
‘ Schools, Colleges and Universities as currently constituted will be redundant in 2035.
Instead, we will have institutions that are virtual/meta/open in character’.
In January 2016, at the World Economic Forum Davos, Professor Klaus Schwab drew attention to the fact that we are now at the threshold of the 4th Industrial Revolution. According to the experts at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this next stage in societal development will see artificial intelligence, and robots, take the place of humans at work.
Of course, the authors of our New Education Policy have turned a blind eye to the possibility of the 4th Industrial Revolution and Digital India impacting Indian education and youth employability.
While the MegaTrends and convergences in Computing, Genetics, Energy and allied technologies do warn and caution us that the status quo will not remain, it also encourages us to believe that we the educators will be the drivers of change this time around.
Our policy makers continue with their Ostrich policy or if you do prefer are like the Nawabs in Prem Chand’s ‘ Shatranj ke Khiladi’.
Earlier Industrial revolutions were driven by control or ownership of capital, land, labour or means of production, but the 4th Industrial Revolution will be led by innovative ideas and co-operation rather than by tight control of ownership or over-regulation of Education by the State.
Education and training to overcome ignorance of STEM and acquisition of new skills led by complex problem solving, cognitive flexibility, critical thinking and creative thinking for very large numbers over very short times is fundamental. Educators empowered with mobile phone technology of specific Apps and WhatsApp for learner cohort management will be the most powerful enabler for this. India could possibly become the world’s hub for educational Apps.
The reason why accomplished practicing educators are more important than the policy maker bureaucrats and fossilised experts in this situation is that while an expert can demonstrate his or her expertise, an inspiring technology empowered educator can transform every ignorant person to an expert by using techniques for successful learning.
The Economic value add by educators has been well researched by the Stanford Professor Eric Hanushek in his book ‘ The Knowledge Capital of Nations’.
Added to the above reports we had the announcement of the Reliance Jio ecosystem by Mukesh Ambani at the 39th AGM of Reliance that gives a serious acceleration to embracing the 4th Industrial Age rather than be terrified with it.
If we want to seize the opportunity before us, we need to follow two intertwined strands, somewhat like the double helix of the DNA.
These are :
1: The MOOC University as the first strand. and
2: The Independent Educator, the TeacherPreneur as the 2nd strand.
Let us expand on these 2 concepts a little further.
1: The UK Open University at Milton Keynes in 1969 was the trailblazer for Open and Distance Learning which inspired Open Universities all over the world. In India the IGNOU was created in 1985, but that was not the first Open University in the Country. The State of Andhra Pradesh legislature enacted in 1982 the Andhra Pradesh Open University emulated the UKOU in delivering distance learning augmented with multi-media.
Now in 2016, it is the right time to launch a series of ‘MOOC’ Universities that are authorised by their Acts to offer degrees and other academic qualifications.
The first such University can either be a Central University created by Parliament or a State University by a progressive state. By awarding its own credits for courses run by others but proctored examinations conducted by its evaluation division it will become a very effective model to equip learners with the knowledge, skills and competencies for the 4th Industrial Age.
2: The Independent Educator : the TeacherPreneur
The Internet facilitates the disintermediation of all organisations , and it must do the same for educational intermediaries and this is what has also been stated in the TIFAC vision 2035 report.
The enormous recent success of the Government in implementing the Direct Benefit transfer schemes clearly demonstrates that as said in para 1 of the summary of recommendations of the draft new education policy, we can now eliminate all intermediaries between the educator and the learner.
These Independent Educators can be MOOC facilitators for not only college level qualifications but for life-long learning as well. All Schools/Colleges that offer education at +2 level can be MOOC Centres so that they can have the motto : ‘ College Ke Saath Bhi…..College Ke Baad Bhi’
The 5th September 2016 is when Reliance Jio would be made available to millions of Indians both learners and teachers.
Teachers Day is being celebrated on 5th September since 1962. And this year in 2016 it is also Ganesh Chaturthi, and we may expect that the 5th September 2016 will be a turning point in the history of India.
Who knows if in the decades to come, this day will be celebrated as one more National Day, the day India took cognisance of the 4th Industrial Age and started a movement to prosper, flourish and thrive in it.
Wishing you a very Happy Teachers Day, which may mark a personal turning point in the lives of each of you.