Educational Policies must adapt quickly to new economic, technological and social changes. These policies must take in to consideration the magnitude, scope and speed of changes taking place globally where knowledge and skills are increasingly replacing raw materials and labour. For example in a competitive market economy, persons who lack innovation and problem solving skills run a higher risk of remaining unemployed or under employed. Education itself has a value in its own right because it broadens people's vision and helps them to live healthier, more financially secure and more fulfilling lives.
Globalization, privatization and conversion of our economy in to a knowledge based economy has resulted in a situation where Government or Public Sector is no longer a major employer. The rapid expansion of Information and Communications Technology, Bio technology and other allied fields and the Karnataka's pre eminent position in these fields has a cascading effect on the Status' economic scene which has made us to re think our goals and strategies in the field of Education .
The notion of Human Development in any Country incorporates all aspects of an individuals' well being, from his health and education status to his economic and political freedom Slower human development is invariably followed by slower economic growth., Most human capital is built through education or training that increase a persons' productivity. The state spends a large amount of public funds on education because it believes that a better educated population will contribute to faster development. Investing in human capital, a1 though extremely important, is not sufficient for rapid economic growth. Such investment must be accompanied by the right development and implementation strategies.
Economic and social returns to society are known to be higher for primary education than for other levels of study, most governments commit to providing free access to primary school to all children. But in low income countries (like India) the public funds available for this purpose are often in sufficient to meet the increasing demands. These funds are also often inequitably distributed - leading to gaps in rural / urban, rich / poor, boys / girls, etc.,
While basic literacy can be conveyed through Campaigns, transfer of Knowledge, Cognitive and Life Skills can only be done through a good system of quality education.
The Universalisation of Elementary Education ( UEE ) was accepted as an important national goal to be achieved since 1950.But the nation has yet to achieve this goal even after all these years. Even though tremendous efforts have been made to achieve the U.E.E, this all important god still remains elusive.
In this background we have to take in to account the World Declaration on Education for AU, adopted in 1990 which has further given a fillip to the national commitment for providing basic education for all.
The ultimate goal affirmed by the World Declaration on Education for All, (EFA) is to meet the basic learning needs of all children, youths and adults. These needs were further specified as consisting of
- Essential learning tools such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy, and problem solving.
- The basic learning content such as knowledge, skills, values and attitudes.
Six major E F A goals set forth in the Dakar Frame work
- Expanding and improving comprehensive Early Childhood Care and Education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Children,
- Ensuring all Children, particularly girls, and ethnic minorities access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality,
- Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life skills programs,
- Achieving a 50 % improvement in levels of adult literacy, especially for woman and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults,
- Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education and achieving gender equality in education, with a focus on ensuring girls' fill and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality,
- Improving every aspect of the quality education, and ensuring their Excellence so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.
Towards fulfillment of these learning meds, the declaration of EFA took a broadened vision of basic education as consisting of formal schooling, non formal education programs as well as open leaning systems which together attempt to reach basic education to all children as well as adults.
The Indian Constitution envisages area specific and population specific planning that will ensure that enough attention is paid to educationally backward pockets and groups through out the country by a shift of emphasis from mere enrolment to retention and quality education
Karnataka has been a pioneer in ushering several important initiatives for Bringing about reforms in the education sector. The Human Development Index Report of 1999, the reports of the Task Force on Education and the reports of the studies of the various education sub sector under taken recently have greatly contributed to bringing in a sea change in educational thinking and planning as also in implementation of new strategies.
In spite of the best efforts made so for, especially during the last decade, Karnataka has remained a median level state in educational development and attainments when compared to the other front line states or the country as a whole. Hence it is necessary for the State to review and update its educational concerns and priorities.
Even though the state is very close to achieving universal primary enrolment, a significant proportion of students continue to drop out (as many of these children are first generation learners).The drop out rat is high specially at the upper primary stage. This has been historically due to various known factors: socio-economic and cultural factors, lack of adequate infrastructure including girls' toile& shortage of teachers, multi grade teaching and unsatisfactory quality of education provided.
Another sector where the state has not been able to make a significant progress is Inclusive Education. A large number of spatially challenged children especially in rural areas have yet to get any type of educational or any other type of rehabilitation support. Inclusive Education is the only alternative to reach such children with disabilities and provide them with their basic right to education. The goals and strategies with respect to educating children with disabilities require a thorough reappraisal.
This document therefore proposes continuous education reform on a fast track as a strategy to achieve the set goals with in the given time frame. Since there are growing demands of Accountability at all levels, we should also think of setting standards (Nom) so that we should be able to rate the achievement level of teachers, students and schools on a scale. This will also help us to compare the results against a standard or Bench Mark. It will also help us to measure the quality of education that we are at presently having in our state.
The Colleges of Teacher Education and the District Institutes of Education should take up this task and work towards improvement of the Education System in the state.
BY taking a ten Year perspective, this document proposes to visualise the goals that have to be achieved and strategies that have to be formulated, (specially in view of the knowledge revolution) in order to take our state forward in the next ten year.
Educational Policies are most effective when they are comprehensive. Each sub sector in education is a necessary component of an effective education system. But still this vision document is limiting its scope and proposes to deal with primary and secondary sub sectors only (along with a pre primary component.)
This document also proposes a Vision Document for every school in the state, which should envisage a ten year perspective plan for the school to make that school in to a center of excellence within its own right.