Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) organized the First G20 Education Working Group Meeting on ‘The Role of Digital Technologies in Education’ today (31st Jan 2023). The Education Working Group, under India’s Presidency of G20, has a key objective to identify areas/themes to promote possible research and academic collaboration among educational institutions in G20 member countries.
The G20 Seminar is being held at IIT Madras Research Park (IITMRP) as part of ‘Sherpa Track – 1st Education Working Group Meeting’ from 31st January 2023 to 2nd February 2023. In addition, an exhibition with 50 stalls is also being organized as part of this grand event at IITMRP. These stalls are showcasing some of the research, innovation and cutting-edge technologies.
Delivering the Inaugural Address and Opening Remarks, India Chair, Sh. K Sanjay Murthy, Secretary, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India, said, “We will be organizing four meetings of the Education Working Group in the coming months at Amritsar, Bhubaneswar and Pune. The four priority areas for deliberations are issues of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, Tech-enabled learning, Future of work and Research and innovation collaboration. A unique feature of all these meetings under India’s G20 Presidency that we have decided for the first time, to have seminars and exhibitions on each of the four priority areas in addition to the deliberations under the Working Group. This gives us a chance to broad base our discussions with enriching inputs from sector experts and from all members and invited countries. The exhibition on the side-lines is intended to make the sharing of best experiences more tangible and hence, more effective.”
Further, Sh. K Sanjay Murthy said, “We are very happy to start our engagement under the G20 Working Group with this seminar on ‘The Role of Digital Technologies in Education’ at IIT Madras. During the past few years, all the G20 member countries have made significant progress in expanding the use of digital technologies for improving access to quality education. All countries have also encountered challenges in the use of technology. In today’s seminar, we will be sharing these initiatives as well as the challenges we have faced and look at ways in which we can collaborate to leverage technology further to achieve common educational targets.”
The participants of this seminar include Members of G20 Education Working Group from each G20 member country, guest countries, and international organizations besides representatives of select academic institutions in G20 member countries that are engaged in initiatives for promoting the use of digital technologies for ensuring quality learning opportunities for all and improving learning outcomes. Representatives of international organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank, and OECD, among others were also taking part alongside representatives of knowledge partners from India.
Welcoming the participating delegates from all over the world, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras and Chairman, IITMRP, said, “We are going to have three exciting sessions dedicated to School Education, Higher Education and Skill Development. We have been provided inputs from different nations on what challenges and best practices that are being followed in at these different places. This gives us a unique opportunity for all of us to understand them so that we could work together to come out with effective solutions. We have Sustainable Development Goal #4 in front of us, which talks about quality and equitable education for all. We all dream that due to these efforts which have been in place for some time, we will have a world where every child will be, at least, a graduate.”
Delivering an address on ‘Use of digital technologies by G20 members to provide accessible, inclusive, and equitable education,’ Prof. Kamakoti added, “Inputs have been provided by all the participating countries on different aspects of school education, higher education and skill development. We see a lot of commonalities and also some challenges. This could form the basis for the three sessions that are going to follow on what could be the important points that need to be deliberated.”
Delivering the Keynote address, Prof. Andrew Thangaraj, IIT Madras and SWAYAM, said, “Every year in India, more than 8.5 million students get into undergraduate education. However, this is at a GER of only 27%. Only one-fourth of children of that age are getting into undergraduate higher education today. We have the grand ambition of increasing GER to 50 to 70 per cent, which means the number could go to 20 million. That’s the kind of numbers we are looking at in the near future.”
Speaking about the initiatives to positively impact the lives of students who end in institutes lower than capabilities, Prof. Andrew Thangaraj said, “One solution is to provide access. The most desirable aspects of higher education are universal access, happy learners and skilled graduates. Anyone who wants higher education should get it, particularly the aspirational folks in the country who need higher education to get better in life and their families out of poverty. These students should be happy learners. While they are in college, they should enjoy learning. The third thing is skilled graduates. They should get out and get jobs.”
Prof. Andrew Thangaraj added “Access to top institutes to anyone motivated and willing to work hard is a fantastic way of approaching this problem. Both the digital interventions that I have been part of – NPTEL and IIT Madras BS Degree in Data Science and Programming – provide access to IITs and IIT Madras for an entire degree.”
Chairing a session on ‘Provide accessible and equitable education for K-12 learners,’ Sh. Sanjay Kumar, Secretary, of School Education, Ministry of Education, Government of India, said, “In India, we have 1.48 million schools having 265 million school students, with 170 million of them being in Government and aided schools and nearly 9.5 million teachers. There are more than 20 regional languages as medium of instruction alongside 62 educational boards of instruction across the country (State and Central).”
Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman of, the National Educational Technology Forum (NETF) chaired a session on ‘Enable high-quality higher education learning opportunities at scale’ in which key points for discussion were
Ø Challenges with building bridge/foundation courses
Ø Enabling flexibility and achieving the desired learning outcomes
Ø Adopting technologies
Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, Skill Education, Government of India, chaired a session on ‘Emerging technologies to provide skill education and training in which the key points for discussion were:
Ø Providing hands-on training and experiential learning
Ø Integrating skill education into school and higher education
The delegates from the participating nations are also visiting IIT Madras Campus and will learn about the evolution of the Institute over the years, from the newly-revamped IIT Madras Heritage Centre.
They will gain exposure to the cutting-edge research underway at IIT Madras ‘Sudha Gopalakrishnan Brain Centre’ and the innovations happening at the student-run Centre for Innovation (CFI), where students work on projects outside their curriculum. An extensive cultural parade has also been organized on the campus, which will showcase the rich cultural diversity of the nation.