Innovation-driven virtual schools to achieve greater inclusion in school education – Dharmendra Pradhan

New Delhi: Union Education and Skill Development Minister, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Shri Virendra Kumar today jointly launched the booklet on One-year New Education Policy (NEP) – 2020 Achievement along with some major initiatives of the New Education Policy- 2020 such as NIPUN Bharat FLN tools and resources on DIKSHA; Virtual School of NIOS; Alternate Academic Calendar of NCERT; and Release of ‘Priya’- accessibility booklet developed by the NCERT and Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. Minister of State for Education Smt Annapurna Devi and Secretary, School Education Smt Anita Karwal were also present on the occasion.

Addressing the participants, the Minister said that NEP is a guiding philosophy to transform the hopes and aspirations of millions of the youth to reality and making India self – reliant. He said that the formulation of NEP is also a live example of co-operative federalism to achieve a common goal of making India a global hub of knowledge. When we look back at the progress of NEP, we get more confident about the future of our students, he added.

Shri Pradhan stated that Education is not merely a competition to acquire degrees, but is a transformative tool to leverage knowledge for character building and eventually nation building. The Minister stressed that the Government is working to facilitate upgradation of infrastructure in schools, such as ensuring that Internet reaches the village schools across the country.

Shri Pradhan said that the book “Priya -The Accessibility Warrior”, released today will sensitize the students on accessibility related issues for Divyangs. Special emphasis has been laid to make the booklet simple, interesting and interactive to create awareness on accessibility in children right from their formative years, he added.

The Minister while launching the Virtual School of NIOS said that this school is a new model of learning and is an example how leveraging technology and innovation can facilitate greater inclusion in education. The school is first-of-its-kind initiative in the country which will provide advanced digital learning platforms through Virtual Live Classrooms and Virtual Labs., he added. Shri Pradhan also said that the Alternate Academic Calendar of NCERT has been developed to facilitate teachers and parents to assess the progress in the learning of children. The Alternate Academic Calendar contains week-wise plan of interesting and challenging activities, with reference to learning outcomes, themes and chapters taken from syllabus or textbook.

Speaking on the occasion Shri Virendra Kumar said that the accessibility opens doorways to opportunity and growth, thus, reinstating the importance of creating an accessible environment for everyone. He further said that awareness and a sensitized community are the essential fuels driving any revolutionary change. Government’s commitment to promote accessibility led to the development of the E-Comic cum Activity Book, titled – ‘Priya- The Accessibility Warrior’.

Shri Kumar urged both the Departments of School Education & Literacy and Department of Higher Education to take up the task of creating accessible educational infrastructure and content on a mission mode, consistently progressing towards Inclusive Education which is a vital component of the new National Education Policy. On the occasion of the 75th year of Independence of India, let us all work with our Children to become ‘Accessibility Warriors’ and make inclusive education a reality to build a brighter future for all our citizens, he added.

Another important initiative launched was “Priya -The Accessibility Warrior”, which is the outcome of collaborative efforts of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Department of School Education and Literacy. It provides glimpses into the world of a girl named Priya who met an accident and could not walk, due to plastered leg. The story depicts how Priya managed to participate in all activities at school, and in the process learnt the importance of the accessibility. She, therefore takes the pledge of being an accessibility warrior. The comic book is also available with Indian Sign Language (ISL) explanatory videos.

NEP 2020 envisages education as a continuum without any segmentation and focuses on making education more experiential, holistic, integrated, character-building, inquiry-driven, discovery-oriented, learner-centred, discussion-based, flexible, and above all, more joyful. With this perspective, the Department of School Education and Literacy has taken up a multitude of initiatives at all levels of school education and has achieved 62 major milestones which will eventually transform the school education sector.

Other major achievements include: the launch of NIPUN Bharat Mission with a vision to ensure every child achieves the desired learning competencies in reading, writing and numeracy by the end of Grade 3, by 2026-27; aligning of the existing scheme of Samagra Shiksha with Sustainable Development Goal for Education (SDG-4) and the NEP 2020 to ensure inclusive and equitable, quality, and holistic school education; Vidya Pravesh- a three months School Preparation Module for Grade I children; Blue print of National Digital Education Architecture (NDEAR) conceived to energise and catalyse the education ecosystem, capacity building of Secondary teachers under NISHTHA with a focus on improvement in quality of teachers and learning outcomes of students, Assessment reforms to make learning more joyful and experiential, DIKSHA as an teaching-learning repository of engaging e-content, etc.

NIPUN Bharat FLN tools and resources has been made available under a separate vertical for FLN resources developed under DIKSHA to assist and mentor States/UTs and teachers for implementing NIPUN Bharat guidelines. This vertical has infographics and videos on learning outcomes and assessment tools for teachers to facilitate them.

The programme was attended by senior officials and heads of autonomous institutions of the department, senior officers from the School Education department of all States and UTs and experts.