The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will next week hold a meeting with various Government of India departments like education, human resources, Digital India, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) and others in order to connect various digital initiatives for e-governance and e-education and how to further promote these efforts, its country director, Mr Jaco Cilliers said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.
“In terms of e-education and e-governance India ranks way far below than the potential it has because of disconnect of good opportunities that are often not coming together and also help in improving long and sustainable effort that needs to be done,” said Mr Cilliers while inaugurating a conference eon ‘Quality education for all: Role of ICT,’ organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“There is also a need for coherence and bringing some of these efforts together,” he added.
Talking about the role of ICT (information and communications technology) in education sector development, the top UN official said, “ICT helps in broadening the reach of basic education particularly in the direction of excluded and underprivileged groups.”
“ICT has the potential of achieving an education that is authentic, accessible to all without exclusion or discrimination, modern and universally affordable, we should provide each individual with the keys to diversify and virtually obtain unlimited knowledge,” he added.
Mr Cilliers also said that India has established a clear lead in this area by going beyond policies that merely recognise strategic role of ICT for growth and development and is institutionalising concrete measures that support ICT initiatives.
“There is a growing recognition that in addition to schooling, non-formal avenues for learning forms an important aspect for education and the attempts by the Government of India through the skilling initiatives and also through Digital India plays an important role in also reaching everybody through various mechanisms to ensure they receive proper education,” he said.
However, Mr Cilliers said that there is no single panacea to solve problems faced by different states, communities and societies across India as such different solutions must be adopted for different needs.
“If one looks at diversity from one state in India to another, one realises that not one approach can solve everybody’s problems as each of the communities, societies and states are also different and that goes right down to the block-level, actually community level and that has to be recognised and also different solutions have to be adopted to address these needs,” said Mr Cilliers.
“Education content must reflect immense cultural diversity and correspond to the specific needs of each society,” he added.
Talking about the United Nations new framework – Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be adopted next month by world leaders and governments, he said that it is being recognised in these goals that ‘universal primary and secondary education for all,’ needs to be central.
“Countries and governments cannot expand and take this very seriously unless they address universal education at all levels,” said Mr Cilliers.
There is a need to reach out to the most marginalised children who are often risk of not getting proper education, he said further.