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‘Pandemic has brought digital revolution and empowered the nation’

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Mr. Aditya Berlia
Co-Founder and Pro Chancellor, Apeejay Stya University

Elets Technomedia & Digital Learning Magazine organised ‘19th World Education Summit, Higher Education 2021’ – The Premier Global Event on Innovation in Education virtual conference scheduled on June 9, 2021. Mr. Aditya Berlia, Co-Founder and Pro Chancellor, Apeejay Stya University was invited for the inauguration ceremony of World Education Summit 2021. He spoke about the challenges that COVID-19 pandemic has brought in the education sector, impact on the students and institutes after cancellation of Class 12th examination. He also gave his views on New National Education Policy.



Highlights of the Inaugural session:
Cancellation of Class 12th Examination

“I am glad that board examinations have been cancelled. I am always against single board examinations, entrance examinations. Historically, our Indian Education system in the interest of being merit based and fair, usually ended up in entrance examinations and board examinations. I have always maintained that this is a perception of fairness and equality. It is like education in the dark ages. Now the New NEP is taking us out,” Mr. Aditya Berlia said.
It is wonderful that the universities and colleges are rethinking how they can capture a complete 360 degrees picture of a student, and not just an examination given in one day or one time in the year. NEP does a wonderful job that one exam cannot decide the future and is not an indicator of a student’s ability, intelligence and desire to succeed, he said.

Behind the Scenes of conducting virtual classes
For us, we have been fortunate that we have over invested in information technology. Within 24 hours of the lockdown in 2020, we were able to do offer fully virtual classes. Within a few weeks, we were able to run all the examinations, he said. Sharing behind the scenes of facing these challenges, he said, “I didn’t sleep for atleast a month. I don’t think even any of our faculty members could have slept. Anyone who comes and says that it was easy, we turned on the switch and it worked… It’s not true! It was a challenging experience. All of us stayed 24*7 online. Getting the technology was easier than arranging the logistics for our faculty, staff and the students. As we all were under lockdown. We tried to figure out how we can cater to a more blended model of personalised education, he said. But we were leading as compared to other institutes and universities who took 30-60 days longer and some even months.

Key learning during COVID-19
Earlier there was a notion of blended learning, distance education was not considered very seriously. The progressive leaders in the higher education regulatory were voicing out, but were held back. Suddenly, the regulators realized that if you are able to recognise 100% virtual as real then at some point you have to acknowledge that your regulations are not working. “The NEP came at the right time. You have to take your old assumptions and throw it out of the window,” he said. At the end of the day, in the 21st century higher education is there to provide structure, ethos, environment, culture and values. Any student can independently without any higher education institution go online, run a couple of courses to get a degree and certificate, get the education they need for skills and they can apply for jobs.

Digital revolution
The digitalization during pandemic has brought empowerment to the faculty members specially those who are above 40-50 years. They were apprehensive about the digital revolution, but now they have become comfortable. This will now accelerate India’s ability to deliver for our students. If this digitalization and e-education happened back in 2010 or 2015, we would have not been as successful. In 2020-21, the level of telecom penetration, the level of bandwidth and the speed has atleast enabled us to do what we did. It shows the amount of investment the government needs to do in infrastructure.

Role of private universities in India
One of the greatest failures of India in the last 30 years has been the recognition of the role of private education. In the pandemic in other countries, the government worked hand-in-hand with the private sector. But in India, the kind of investment required to take forward our education sector, will not happen if there is an adversarial view between the government and the private sector. “If you look at the top 100 universities across the world, they are mostly private universities. These universities exist not only on the private funds but they are working very closely with the government in terms of jobs, research, skills and development, funding all across the board to create an ecosystem. This ecosystem really drives growth. This is something that is missing in India. The good news is all good regulators appreciate the role of private education.’’

Reforms needed
Investments happen in every sector and country. The government needs to find a graceful way to welcome the new investors. “Government should open its arms and I have great faith in PM Modi’s ability to raise funds for the country. He has great diplomatic support.” One of the top US Universities has the same annual budget as that we have for our entire country. We need to understand that if we are going to be competing globally, we need a massive amount of investment in the education sector. This investment will only come if it is treated kindly and with respect.

Asst Editor ( Newsroom ), who has an experience of a decade in core journalism. Credibility, courage, timelines and media ethics are some of her professional traits.You can reach her at: [email protected]

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