Achieving Sustainable Goal Of Education

It is pivotal that the spending on education should be increased and the educational institutes which need financial assistance should be supported

In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, education is a main focus. Education is essentially perceived as a stand-alone goal (SDG4) with its outcome targets and means of implementation. In more than hundred countries, education is a fundamental right and to fulfill this right, many countries are working towards providing universal access to quality education aiming at holistic development promoting mutual understanding, tolerance, friendship and peace. 

The unprecedented setting of coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 has put a hold in the process of development and undermined the general approach toward sustainability. It is actually slowing down the process towards achieving the sustainable goal of education and influencing the path of development. And the aim of leaving no one behind is threatened by the current growing inequalities.

Impact of Covid-19 on education

Though countries are coming up with many remote education strategies, many of the children especially belonging to the poor households cannot continue their education because of the unavailability of internet connection and devices. This is amplifying the existing learning inequalities that existed across the globe. According to a report from UNICEF, more than 1 billion children are at the risk of falling behind due to school closures aimed at containing the spread of Covid-19. In order to mitigate these losses, the need of the hour is to implement learning recovery programs, enhance educational budgets and prepare for future shocks. 

While the online and blended model of education involving webinars and virtual laboratories, etc., has helped bring in and accelerate much needed reforms in the way education is imparted, a large majority of schoolchildren especially in rural India rely on their schools as a place where they can interact with their peers, seek support, access health and immunization services and a meal. 

Here are some more recommendations to achieve the sustainable goal of education by 2030: 

A shift in curriculum to bridge the knowledge gap

When it comes to the knowledge landscape, our world is evolving at a very fast pace. The dramatic advances in automation, robotics, IoT, big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence are accelerating the process of machines taking over a large number of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and increasing the demand of skilled manpower in this area. Therefore, the need of the skilled workforce in new technologies can only be fulfilled if we bring a change in the current curriculum and focus more on mathematics, computer science, and data science, in conjunction with multidisciplinary education across sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  Further, with the rising issues of climate change, pollution, urbanisation, aging population, increasing per capita income and rising aspirations, expanding e-commerce, and depleting natural resources, there will be a sizeable shift in how we meet the world’s food, water, housing, energy, sanitation, transportation, healthcare and education needs, again resulting in the need for new skilled labour, particularly in healthcare, engineering, information technology, energy, education, agriculture and food technology, logistics, research, social sciences, legal services and arts. The growing emergence of epidemics and pandemics will also call for collaborative research in infectious disease management and the development of vaccines and the resultant complexity of social issues heightens the need for multidisciplinary learning. 

While Covid made the education process to go hybrid, many teachers were not skilled enough to provide online education.

Implementing learning recovery programs

In order to meet the expected learning targets of the students in the last two years, the government should ensure that they are supporting them in every possible way so that they should not be left behind their counterparts. Some tutoring programs should be implemented urgently through which students can make progress in their studies. Necessary arrangements including availability of affordable internet connection and laptop/tablet/smartphone should be ensured prior to implementing the recovery programs. More distance and blended learning platforms should be introduced for the continuity in the learning programs, which will not only boost the students’ performances but also enable teachers and students to remain connected, gain access to educational materials, and continue imparting education irrespective of the Covid severity. Universities should be asked to scale up their efforts to contribute online content repositories in public domain. It should be made compulsory for all Institutes of Eminence, NAAC A++ and A+ graded HEIs, as well as NIRF top 50 universities to create a minimum of 50 online courses each within two years. The study materials of these courses including the video recordings should be made freely accessible to public at large.   

Special emphasis on the education budget

It is pivotal that the spending on education should be increased and the educational institutes which need financial assistance should be supported. To fulfill the needs of the vulnerable students, governments should prioritise by directing much of the funding and resources to institutes largely catering to such student population. Incentives such as scholarships should be implemented so that students should continue their education. Corporate world can do a lot in this regard. Each company should be encouraged to use their CSR fund to set up large number of scholarships. It must be noted that the learning recovery programs will not be feasible without substantial financial support from government as well as the corporate world. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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Sustainable Development Goal education 2030 SDG4

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