DNIS News Network - A two-day Visioning Workshop was organised from 6-7 June 2005, to define the vision of the Education Community. 52 experts with U.N.E.S.C.O. engaged in different fields of education met at Jaypee Palace Hotel, Agra, to discuss the goal to make educational universal.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (U.N.E.S.C.O.) has been entrusted with the facilitating role for the Education Community of Practice which envisioned the idea of creating an inclusive and participatory partnership among a variety of diverse stakeholders to support the Government of India’s efforts in the achievement of education related to India’s Development Goals/Targets and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (S.S.A.) as well as the globally mandated Millennium Development Goals (M.D.G.) and Education for All (E.F.A.).
It basically entails greater involvement of communities in Universal Education. The New Delhi based Director & Representative of U.N.E.S.C.O. Prof. Mohsen Tawfik would be responsible for the programme objectives. Under the plan for the resource group, areas where there is need for expansion of education was to be identified and ways of going about the expansion decided on. The resource group was to constitute academic institutions, corporate bodies, national N.G.Os, United Nations and Government of India representatives.
The main objectives of the workshop were:
- To develop a good understanding of communities of practice
- To brainstorm around three priority areas of education
- To agree on working modalities for the Education Community to make it holistic and participatory; keep the discussion of the group focused on the priority areas; and ensuring the best outcome for the Education community.
Prof. Mohsen Tawfik, Facilitator, Education Community, Director and U.N.E.S.C.O. Representative, also responsible for the programme objectives, explained the various aspects of the programme.
During discussions the U.N.E.S.C.O. team brought out three important points due to which education is adversely affected:
1. The number of students who fail to make it to schools is very large.
2. The infrastructure and basic facilities that are needed for functioning of schools are missing.
3. Community will have to play a much greater and proactive role in promotion of education.
S. K. Rao, Member of Parliament, in his speech addressed the shortage of skilled manpower of global standards in India and the high dropout rate from preliminary to 10+2 level due to poverty and illiteracy. While 95% people around the world have improved their skills through vocational training in about 3000 courses, India has only 2% trained in 141 courses, he said. “The only silver lining in the recent past is to bring a new scheme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to ensure universal elementary education to all between the age group of 6-14 with quality and relevance to the needs of the nation by 2010 and allocation of substantial funds…” Rao continued. He stressed that vocational training at an early age was important in order to increase the GDP, and that India could revive its past glory within two decades if there was determination, good planning and practical thinking.
The NGO community was also included in the programme for them to extend their understanding and expertise in shaping this Community of Practice, as they were an important channel for achievement of India’s Development Goals and Targets. Javed Abidi, Executive Director, National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (N.C.P.E.D.P.), and member of the Committee for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and Sister Cyril, Principal, Loreto Convent School, Sealdah, Kolkata, explicated and discussed various objectives of the programme.
(A detailed report of the workshop including the main outcomes will be released soon, which DNIS will make available)