Azim Premji, Founder Chairman, Wipro Ltd, in The Economic Times (March 18, 2020)
Summary by Alejandro Reyes
Education is the key to empowerment of girls and the fulfilment of their dreams. A good education is a powerful force that contributes to making our society more just, equitable, humane and sustainable.
Over the past 20 years, India has made real progress in education. Government schools are accessible to almost all villages, with primary schools usually within walking distance. Primary enrolment is nearly universal, with gender parity of access.to early classes. The thinking on education has become more progressive.
We urgently need to develop and adopt a new comprehensive policy framework for education. An excellent move in this direction is the draft National Education Policy (NEP) unveiled in May 2019. This laid out a comprehensive, nuanced and integrated road map for the transformation Indian education.
It recommends access to high-quality public education as the way forward and calls for substantial increase in investment to enable this expansion and improve public education at all levels. Vibrant, high-quality and equitable public education will be the foundation of Indian society.
As the NEP outlines, India should strive to attain high-quality early childhood care and education and ensure that every student achieves age-appropriate levels of development in their first five years of school. Curricula and teaching frameworks should be redesigned. There should be significant investment to ensure equitable inclusion of disadvantaged groups. Well trained teachers must be at the center of the education system.
A new institutional architecture for higher education is needed, with some consolidation of universities and colleges. The NEP requires regulatory reform of higher education to ensure that institutions have greater autonomy that enables them to improve quality.
The final NEP should not be diluted from the carefully formulated draft that includes bold, progressive measures. These must not be sacrificed at the altar of expediency or extraneous compulsion.