Round table discussion on "Shikshit Bharat, Saksham Bharat" – Quality Education

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17th November is observed as International Students' Day, an occasion for students to deliberate on issues which concern them and their country and share new ideas and to suggest new ways of moving forward.

In the spirit of the International Students' Day, Symbiosis Law School, Pune  organised  a Round table discussion of the students on "Shikshit Bharat, Saksham Bharat" – Quality Education for all on 17th November, 2014. Over 30 students participated in the discussion chaired and moderated by Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, Fulbright Scholar, Director, Symbiosis Law School, Pune and Dean, Faculty of Law, SIU.

The discussion led to the generation of many new ideas on quality education and suggestions which is being sent to the MHRD so as to make it a part of the New Education Policy.

MHRD  and UGC has proposed to  select the best recommendations and suggestions on the subject and to invite one student leader from some selected universities to Delhi to interact with the Hon'ble Minister of Human Resource Development and to attend Session of Parliament when the subject of education is being discussed.

Dr. Shashikala Gurpur, in her welcome address highlighted the purpose of the round table discussion. She said as of now, India is ranked the lowest among the BRICS nations in brand parameters. Mentioning the role that students can play in revolutionizing the existing Education Policy, she said that the Indian youth needs to be at par with the youth across the world, educationally. The need of the hour is to build our human resource to make this nation a global power. Dr. Gurpur brought to light a possible kink in the education system, that our primary education policy has not been reviewed yet. She motivated the students present by reiterating the importance of education and stressedthat education should be brought closer to life and should be a driving example for a social change. For India to maximize its potential and become efficient,it must push to develop its primary, secondary and tertiary platforms as well. Dr. Gurpur recalled nostalgically, her school days and spoke about the hindrance faced by her village’s schooling system. Concluding, she asked the room full of students, “Will Shikshit Bharat become Saksham Bharat?”, which at the end of the discussion  found an affirmative reply.

First presenter, Dhruv Joshi, IV year, Symbiosis Law School, Pune gave a motivational and highly informative presentation where he brought to light that higher education is not a Fundamental Right. He also brought out the crux of the Right to Education Act, 2009 and the fallacies therein which act as a hurdle in the process of overall development. Mr. Joshi then brought another issue to the table the “Sarkari School Paradox” giving the current statistics of government institutions, i.e.,16 IITS, 7 IIMS, 17 NLU’s and 130 deemed universities. Despite the vast numbers, the research is majorly lacking in quality. Further, all students graduating from various school across the country, along with their parents, aspire to get into these esteemed educational institutions. But when parents look to enroll their children into schools at the primary level, government schools are side-lined and discarded because the belief of substandard education is a preconceived notion held by all. He also addressed a sub-issue of paramount importance: the remodeling of the fees structure. He gave an example of the fee structure followed by Ivy League universities and others abroad, where quality education is directly proportional to higher fees to afford better amenities and quality teachers. Additionally, he exclaimed that political literacy is hugely dependent on the educated youth to make the right choicesin favor of the nation. Lastly, Mr. Joshi quoted Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, “Democracy without education is hypocrisy without limitation….” 

Vadeendra Joshi, III year, Symbiosis Law School, Pune, started off with the quote “Swadesh pujyate raja, vidwan sarvatra pujyate”. The presentation aimed at providing solutions to the various questions posed relating to education and how they can be derived from the rarely visited topic of the ancient education systems.The mode of teaching included logic, grammar, basic discipline, moral values, skills for life and most importantly,periodical assessment of students’ skill. Further, Mr. Vadeendra elaborated on the modes of learning followed in the ancient education systems, which included multi discipline conferences (VidwadGhosti), updation of knowledge (Ghatikas), etc. He also spoke about other modes of learning such as, vidwadparishad, vidhyapeethas, swadhaya, etc. Mr. Vadeendra, then highlighted the fact that in the ancient times, people were more open to constructive criticism and discussion and to validate his point he gave an example of Lord Krishna’s role in the Mahabharata. To end his speech, he quoted “Sarve janaha sukino bhvantu

The third and last speaker, Prathamesh Joshi, L.L.M., Symbiosis Law School, Pune, took up the issue of the legal education system and the challenges faced therein. He pointed out the flaws in the current education system and persuaded the audience to look beyond classroom learning and aim to gain practical knowledge. He stressed on limited usage of technology in the field of education and the repercussions of the same. To have an edge over the others and develop holistically, law students, especially, must focus on quality research and practical experience. He proposed a solution of “Special Education Zones” which basically revolve around the concept of “Special Economic Zones”. 

After the presentations, the actual round table discussion began lasting for two hours. It was a highly participative forum where teachers and students, at an equal level, proposed possible solutions and questioned the validity of some claims made in the course of the presentation. After an hour long heated discussion, Prof. Anu Solanki, Symbiosis Law School,  Pune expressed her views on secondary education in India.
Finally, Dr. Shashikala Gurpur gave the concluding remarks. She stressed on the fact that inclusive and exclusive development should go hand-in-hand. She said that we should encourage Foreign Languages, skill based learning and introduction of electives at the secondary levels. She highlighted that the education system should move from being rigid, institution, teacher and job centric to being flexible and student-centric.