A vision document for education

Yogesh Khosla
Book Name : Empowering Youth of Jammu and Kashmir
-Education, Engagement & Employability Vision 2028
Author : Amitabh Mattoo
Publisher : Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd Year of
Publishing : 2019
The book under review is an important vision document which covers the entire gamut of education in J&K. The book reports the work of J&K State Knowledge Initiative Platform (SKIP) (Established by J&K Govt. in 2017)- a working group chaired by Prof Mattoo.
The scope of the book is large and includes the historical perspective of education in J&K and profiles of five Trailblazers of our state- entrepreneurs who moved forward brightly in challenging circumstances. The book presents a comprehensive view of the educational scenario in the state- system, schemes, infrastructure, organizational structure, budget, data analysis. Main feature of the book is an ambitious vision of transforming education in J&K which is presented as concrete and clear 5 year and 10 year targets. Proposed implementation strategies/ plans to meet the targets are very essential, relevant, doable and quite revolutionary.
The targets set for 2028 are laudable, timely and ambitious, but appear difficult to achieve considering the current social and political turmoil in the state. SKIP envisions doubling of expenditure on education to 7% of state GDP by 2023 and more than double to 10% by 2028 to achieve the targets. Due to paucity of space, only some main targets to be achieved by 2028, are given hereunder:-
* To achieve 100% literacy in the state
* To be among top 5 Indian states in the National Achievement Survey
* 100% colleges should have NAAC “A” grade and 100% Universities NAAC grade “A+”
* To bring at least 2 state Universities in the top 500 world rankings
* To create world class state-of-the-art laboratories in STEM in all colleges and Universities
* Every school and college to have well equipped facility and staff for outdoor sports, music, fine arts and performing arts.
SKIP also proposes an implementation plan/ strategies titled “Strategic Imperatives for Sustainable Achievement of Vision 2028″ to achieve the above goals based on six pillars. Due to paucity of space, we give hereunder some main recommendations:-
* Establish an autonomous body (SKIP) comprising of experts, scholars, scientists, consultants to work with the state government to set benchmarks for accountability and to oversee that the targets are achieved.
* Restructure SCERT to make it the central academic authority for school education with full responsibility for curriculum development, preparation of text books and for teachers’ training.
* Restructure JKBOSE to make it an independent examining body with no other responsibility.
* Pass a Bill in the state assembly on the lines of RTE Act, 2009
* Demand highest levels of quality in education and fix accountability on the basis of evidence- evidence of minimum learning standards of students and evidence of results/ competency based outcomes at all levels.
* Eligibility criteria for staff selection should be very high and mechanism of selection should be stringent, clear and above any doubt
” Greater focus should be on three local/traditional fields- Tourism, Handicrafts and Horticulture.
” Very stringent rules for promotion of teachers- linking it to their own performance, students’ learning outcomes/ results, 360 degree feedback from students, parents and community, publication of papers in reputed journals (for college teachers) and periodic participation in professional development training programmes.
If the recommendations proposed in the book are accepted, adopted and implemented, there is no doubt that the much needed educational reforms will take wings in our state. Writer of this review, however, is very keen to get answers to some troubling questions:-
” At a time when only four years are left for the first deadline of 2023, what is the status of the document? Has it been accepted and adopted by the government? Has any action plan been formulated and implementation started? What are the road blocks?
” Adopting these targets and implementing the suggested action plan has the potential to eradicate from the roots, the cancer of unemployment, poverty, militancy, unrest, misguided stone pelting, substance abuse etc. from our troubled state. Then why is the commitment to meet these targets in time, not the biggest election issue today? Then I wonder- do we really love and care for our children? Do we really care for our beloved Jammu and Kashmir?