India needs to top its unprecedented enrolment gains with an emphasis on raising learning levels, checking dropouts, and using new models and technology to improve access and delivery of education. Both public and private schools need to emphasise a better educational experience in the classrooms, moving away from literacy toward the acquisition of skills and competencies that will increase economic productivity and growth. This requires an unwavering commitment from parents, teachers, school principals, administrators and policy makers alike toward the children of India.
A better and consistent in-classroom experience is key to checking dropouts and ensuring better transition rates; this will only come about through diversified and innovative schools, each catering to individual child needs, using a variety of teaching and learning methods, and operating under different management and governance arrangements.
The common schooling system dictates a top-down cookie-cutter approach towards education; while we cannot underestimate the role of common minimum standards in achieving results at scale, schools need to be empowered to customise learning and shift away from centrally developed syllabi, teacher qualifications, use of technology merely as a teaching tool and unsubstantiated belief in the role of inputs.
The current regulatory framework for private schools and the central and constraining dicta for public schools limit the opportunities for school principals to adapt to the local context, and make the most of their resources. Charter schooling is one example for developing impactful community schools that empower school leaders to innovate and deliver while ensuring accountability to parents.
Similarly, the current policy for use of technology in education is limiting as it largely looks at technology as yet another input into education. Technology in education has gone much beyond classrooms and gameification to include other areas such as teacher training and certification, school management, assessments, and tracking of students. Teacher autonomy in syllabus delivery for example could encourage newer ways to integrate technology into classroom activity.