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South Asian Youth Festival 2020: Key Note Session

Introduction of SAYF 2020

South Asian Youth Festival 2020 is organized to gather youths from South Asian Countries, connect with them, share and learn their perspective, and develop a strong bond. The 3- weeks-long program is organized on the occasion of International Youth Day 2020 to celebrate youth power, energy, creativity, success, and capabilities. This festival which is being organized virtually will continue till the 3rd of September. The festival is organized in collaboration with various South Asian organizations like UNICEF- ROSA; UNESCO; A2I, Cabinet Division, Bangladesh, UNDP; National Youth Council Nepal; CYDA, India; CYN, Sri Lanka; Pinnacle Consultancy Pvt. Ltd, Maldives; Dynamic Youth Afghanistan; Maldives National Youth Council; Coca-Cola; Turkish Airlines & South-South Network.

Keynote session on “Making Youth Future-Ready” was presented by Prof. Rajendra Pratap Gupta, Member, National Education Policy, Government of India on Saturday, 15 August 2020. The session ended with a very insightful discussion on education and highlighted that youths need to explore their purpose of learning and reskilling is truly essential.

Prof. Gupta shared- “Education is not just for those studying formally in schools, colleges, and universities. Everyone is the student of the future, and those who refuse to accept this fact, the future will refuse to accept them. So, start learning NOW, to be accepted by the Future.”

It was wonderful hearing from him about new and timely education policy for India, its impact on student life, and also about Making Youths Market Ready.

Mr. Gupta shared that he was very delighted to present his thoughts on how to make Youths ready for the future. He explained his ideas on education perspective, so it was relevant to almost all people in the session, also hearing live. He also put forward the National Education Policy 2020 that got drafted recently in India.

He firstly introduced Education, that people perceive it as. People normally think when they got a degree makes them educated; but for him, a degree is just a starting point. When education is applied, it becomes knowledge. And the final take is wisdom. Knowledge means knowing what to say and wisdom means to determine whether to say or not. If we want to be future-ready, if we want to make the best out of our education, we need to reach the ultimate stage of knowledge and higher education. Education essentially doesn’t make the future-ready, and he said that as a Global Perspective.

He highlighted his points giving examples of Bill Gates, Elon Musk & Steve Jobs who dropped out, had no proper degree, but were truly knowledgeable that made them execute their learnings and highlight their contribution throughout the world.

Making Youth Future-ReadyEducation is not only about making sure all children can attend school. It is about setting young people up for life, by giving them opportunities to find decent work, earn a living, contribute to their communities and societies, and fulfill their potential. At the wider level, it is about helping countries nurture the workforce they need to grow in the global economy.

Also, to have a secure future, youths need to determine their learnings if it is relevant to the world of tomorrow, as per education. The world is changing fast, so is our knowledge regarding the world, and it’s perspective. He also explained about Knowledge Doubling Curve by Buckminster Fuller which is explained below.

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II, knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build-out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.

Likewise, Mr. Gupta introduced a survey that he did on the relevance of education for jobs in 113 countries. He included his findings in a book named – Your Degree Is Not Enough | Education for GenNext.” The book states in the next 10 years, 90 percent of the jobs will either drastically change or cease to exist and those who realize this soon can prepare themselves for the emerging scenario. The book also covers a wide range of topics, which will open new pathways for students and professionals alike in the fast-changing times. It is a fact, that in the emerging paradigm, your degree will not be enough to survive in the hyper-competitive world.

He put a summary of his findings briefly while presenting. He said the people who are aware of education can explain its usefulness more promptly. As per the survey that was held, upon being asked for Youth about the role of education in their life, 49.36% said education had a major role to play, and 33.28% of education played a role but not a major one. Likewise, remaining said there is no role in education. Likewise, the next survey question was is our education system preparing the children for their future? Here, 75% had a clear response saying NO, the education is not preparing for the future. This shows that education, a degree alone is not essential, one must have skill-oriented learning to meet with the Global trends and needs in terms of education and employability.

Making Youth Future-Ready

Prof. Rajendra Pratap Gupta sharing his words on Keynote session

He also introduced the term VUCA which stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It describes the situation of constant, unpredictable change that is now the norm in certain industries and areas of the business world. The term originated from America, which was used to deal with war situations. Today, it is meant for the corporate world, after COVID it relates our personal life as well. Every day will be a VUCA day & every year will be VUCA year for us. It acts as a major guiding for people who look after the future.

Besides, he also presented Pre-COVID predictions & projections and added that Re-Skilling is a need for today. Re-skilling needs vary from less than a month for more than a year. 54% need re-skilling needs and they need to understand what kind of skills they need in this Global market.

He also highlighted as a generation, we have to transform everything we can trace, be it education, health, economy, governance, environment, and so on. The people we need today should have high imaginative quotient value. Youths need to focus on their crucial abilities that can be curiosity, ability to ask questions, problem-solving, and decision making. Also, Youth needs to find their Stressbuster and their purpose –inner calling. They should read more, research more significantly to broaden up their knowledge.

Mr. Asish Thakur introduced some guests from the education sector in Nepal. He introduced Director-General for the Department of Education in Nepal, Mr. Tulsi Prasad Thapaliya and Mr. Thapaliya put forward a question to the Keynote Speaker.

Director-General for Department of Education in Nepal, Mr. Tulsi Prasad Thapaliya asked – “The most important part is Teacher’s recruitment and mobility in education; in our case, the social value is not as high as compared to another profession. The attraction of youth in this career is not encouraging? Can you share your observation on keeping young people motivated in this profession?”

Mr. Gupta shared- When I ask the students in a rural community, they raise their hands for the teaching profession. But in cities, the youth don’t want to rely on this profession. It’s the same case in both countries. The main reason behind this challenge for teachers is that they don’t get the opportunity to research. They are confined only to take lessons. We need to try to address, training recruitment, growth, and salary. No good teacher means no good education. We had the same challenge. The teacher is the platform between knowledge and knowledge seeker. Therefore, an eco-system needs to be created where there will a good opportunity for research and growth of teachers. And youths also will get attracted to the profession eventually.

Question/ Answer Session:

How to ensure the implementation of good policies?

Mr. Gupta shared- “There have been many policies formulated, but the impact was not visible on the ground. But the policies I have worked on always ended up being implemented with proper plans categorized in terms of priorities. He has proper Direction and commitment to timelines. We are all accountable, a date is announced, the department is made. We have policies, changes, coming in effect as we are stretching our resources, committed to the implementation and Continuous revealing, monitoring, and finding the outcomes is being done.”

It is difficult to reform the assessment system? I have not seen the Leapfrog in any assessment system? Because we are dependent on assessment reform? How will you manage the Inclusion and education budget for the policy?

When it comes to implementation, the assessment process is necessary. It depends on two things, political will and understanding. In education, we will ensure the effective implementation of policies. It highlights what we are going to do. You have made a pertinent point as there are many recommendations that we need to connect and look at them. On one side we have gender inclusion funds, the other side we talk about higher education institutions in all districts of the country. When we talk about district-level self-sufficiency, these all districts lie at the major focus for us in the policy itself. So, we have been determined to identify those 100 backward districts. Inclusion is both in terms of institutions and, in terms of beneficiaries. We are not going to compromise regarding the implementation of our education policy. There we will not see constraints in terms of the budget in education. We will use the budget wherever needed, as we are aware of the budget that needs to be allocated for an effective approach. Whether its assessment, inclusion, or budget, we are not going to be failing.Making Youth Future-Ready

This policy promoted different conceptualization of education with Lots of reform agendas, justified differently. As per core understanding at a system level, at the beneficiaries’ level, a huge effort is going to be made on common understanding. How the whole Nation will come to understand new policy? How will it address it? What level will be decentralized?

Education in India is a concurrent subject. Our government coming up with policies has clearly stated that states have the flexibility to choose the curriculum, choose their language. Nothing is being thrust by the central. We have a university named National Institute for Transforming India. We are going to engage with the states, work closely with them in terms of implementation, assessment, and budgeting as states have a major role to play. Students have a choice to take the language of their choice. We have clearly articulated the local responsibilities and we will work in coordination.

 Mr. Syed Md. Golam, Director General in Education, Bangladesh:

The new education policy in India is very progressive. The language is very much emphasized. Is it possible to manage all languages for education? Next point about Flexibility, the policy says about personalized curriculum, learning. Is it possible to manage all these?

I am the part of language in this policy. We have a demographic dividend, we also have demographic opportunities. I have looked extensively in India regarding opportunities. Our demographic dividend will not last more than 25 years, so we will have challenges. If we continue with the incremental change of policy, we would have out at least in 1 year. It takes a lot to balance the system. Therefore, we are trying to hold our efforts, at the same time, justice to everything. The reason we talk about three languages, we need to figure out with another segment of policy which introduces coding as a language. This will change the perspective of students in terms of creativity, in terms of crucial roles. When we look at other countries, they deliver education in their language, there is a benefit to it. All languages will be taught in an enjoyable and interactive style, with plenty of interactive conversation, and with early reading and subsequently writing in the mother tongue in the early years, and with skills developed for reading and writing. There will be a major effort from both the Central and State governments to invest in large numbers of language teachers in all regional languages around the country, and, in particular, for all languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

States, especially States from different regions of India, may enter into bilateral agreements to hire teachers in large numbers from each other, to satisfy the three-language formula in their respective States, and also to encourage the study of Indian languages across the country.

Although this might appear just as the ambition, we are bringing the future to the present and we are quite confident in this part. We are drafting policies for people yet to be born. Therefore, flexibility is very important. In today’s world technology allows us to impact education. This is where the uniqueness of the system lies. Therefore, to the extent of language and flexibility, we have plans and practical approach which will be implemented.

The session ended with his saying that their education policy had led a great foundation for education. It can shape the country through real-world application-oriented education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) while making equally important progress in communication skills and interpersonal attributes to help India reclaim its historical role as a global leader in the field of education. Therefore, a new education policy is made to revamp the education system of the 21st century.