National

Digital learning should not lead to digital divide: Vice President

The Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu

Mantra of education should be – embrace, engage, enlighten, empower: VP

VP calls for transformation of our teaching methodology

Expresses concern about pandemic’s impact on children’s education

VP stresses the need for de-colonisation of India’s education system

Teachers should keep fit and motivate their students for the same – Vice President

Vice President inaugurates Sports Centre and Open Educational Resource (OBR) at National Institute of Technical Teachers Training & Research (NITTTR), Chennai

DELHI, FEBRUARY 14: The Vice President Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today stressed that while Central and State governments are taking measures to promote digital learning, it is important to ensure that there is no digital divide. To ensure this, he called for increased access to the internet especially in rural areas and remote places and to ‘keep inclusivity at the heart of the educational experience’. ‘The mantra should be — embrace, engage, enlighten and empower’, he said.

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Addressing the gathering after inaugurating the Sports Centre at the National Institute of Technical Teachers Training & Research (NITTTR) in Chennai today,  Shri Naidu expressed concerns about the impact of the pandemic on education, and said that school closures affected girls, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, those living in rural areas, children with disabilities and children from ethnic minorities more than their peers.

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On this occasion, the Vice President also inaugurated the NITTTR Open Educational Resource (OER) today.  Calling it an important step in improving inclusivity through distance education, he observed that it would help the teachers in improving their knowledge base and teaching methodology.

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Calling for corrective action from the governments, Shri Naidu suggested that one of the important measures is to upgrade the skills of teachers in e-learning. Emphasising the importance of quality teacher training in India, he said that ‘teachers constitute the intellectual lifeline of a nation and play a critical role in charting its development’.

Shri Naidu further stressed the need to create teachers who are ‘learners and creators of knowledge — teachers who touch lives and seek to uplift the human condition’. ‘We need inspirational, transformational leaders in our classrooms, especially in rural India’, he added.

Talking about India’s demographic dividend, he said that teachers have greater responsibility in moulding India’s huge youth population into responsible citizens. “Education does not mean just degrees,” he said and opined that true purpose of education is enlightenment, empowerment and wisdom. The Vice President also called upon the institutes to focus on developing a constrictive and positive attitude among the students.

The Vice President lauded the role of teachers as ‘COVID warriors’ and doing their best to ensure the academic continuity of their students during the pandemic. He noted that the teaching community explored technology and  showed ‘remarkable flexibility in reinventing their strategies and methodologies to support the learning of students’.

Referring to the National Education Policy 2020 as a visionary document, the Vice President said that it seeks to transform the education ecosystem in our country and underlines the importance of energising and motivating young faculty members. He urged teachers to adopt innovative strategies to address important national and global challenges and opportunities in an intellectually vibrant, collaborative environment.

Stressing the need for de-colonisation of India’s education system, the Vice President called for taking inspiration from India’s ancient knowledge systems and great sages who had made our country a Vishwa Guru – a knowledge giver. Calling for regaining that position, he underscored the need to make society free from the divisions based on the cast, religion, region and language.

Emphasizing the need to promote and preserve Indian languages, Shri Naidu appreciated AICTE for starting technical courses in Indian languages. Reiterating that no languages should be imposed or opposed, he opined that one must learn as many languages as possible but primacy should be given to mother tongue.

Advising teachers to impart ‘experiential learning’ to students, Shri Naidu observed that such a learning methodology helps in promoting creativity and innovative outcomes. He called for taking teaching from a one way mode of communication to a two-way mode where activities need to be connected from content to context.

Calling upon NITTTR to take the lead in producing outstanding teachers through well-structured and scientifically designed training programmes, he appreciated its efforts in training more than 60,000 learners in the past two years. He complimented the institute for training international participants as well under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation of the Ministry of External Affairs.

Expressing his happiness over inauguration of the Sports Centre at NITTTR, Shri Naidu, who himself is a sport enthusiast, exhorted the teachers to keep fit and also encourage their students to regularly practice sports or Yoga. He said that this pandemic has highlighted the importance of physical fitness and healthy food for good immunity against the diseases.

Later on, interacting with the students and faculty members of NITTTR, Shri Naidu stressed the need to transform our teaching methods, especially in technical institutions. In response to a question, he called for creating better facilities such as good hospitals, schools, roads and connectivity in rural areas to bridge rural-urban divide and stem migration to cities. He also urged the state governments to focus on Smart Cities program and create model cities to inspire other urban centers to improve their facilities.

Thiru Ma.Subramanian, Health Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. V.S.S. Kumar, Chairman, Board of Governors, NITTTR Chennai, Dr. Usha Natesan , Director, NITTTR, Chennai, Dr. G. Kulanthaivel, Professor, NITTTR, and others were present.

Following is the full text of speech –

“Brothers and Sisters,

I am delighted to visit National Institute of Technical Teachers Training & Research (NITTTR), Chennai and interact with all of you. NITTTR enjoys a unique position in our academic landscape. It is an institute established to empower teachers, especially technical teachers. As you are all aware, a Guru occupies a special place in our culture and the veneration a teacher receives is quite aptly depicted in the celebrated lines:

Gurur Brahmā

Gurur Viṣṇur

Gurur devo Maheśvaraḥ

Guruḥ sākṣāt paraṁ Brahma

tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ.  

At this institution, the faculty members are gurus of  gurus—the learners therefore, are “twice-blessed”. They are gurus themselves, learning from other worthy gurus.

The National Initiative of Technical Teachers Training, the flagship project of Ministry of Education, is coordinated by NITTTR Chennai as a National Coordinating Institute. Over the past two years, I am told that more than 60,000 learners enrolled in eight modules of learning.

As you all are aware, teachers constitute the intellectual lifeline of a nation and play a critical role in charting its development. It is teachers who shape knowledge societies. We need teachers who are learners and creators of knowledge—teachers who touch lives and seek to uplift the human condition. We need inspirational, transformational leaders in our classrooms, especially in rural India. Great teachers redefine the educational ecosystem and build the foundation for the progress of the nation. As technical teachers, you must leverage technology to fast-track development.

In this context, the National Education Policy 2020 is a visionary document that lays out the roadmap for the future. It seeks to transform the education ecosystem in our country and underlines the importance of energizing and motivating young faculty members. It stresses upon innovation, apart from underscoring the need for faculty members to be equipped with requisite skills to design their own curricular and teaching strategies, within the approved framework. Teachers should adopt innovative strategies and their vision must address the important national and global challenges and opportunities in an intellectually vibrant, collaborative environment. Innovation must lend itself to application and must have a transformative impact on the ground.

I am happy to note that this institute is conducting various training programmes in line with National Education Policy 2020. Committed teachers play a huge role in promoting excellence and innovation.

I am told that NITTTR Chennai provides training to national and international participants as well under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation of Ministry of External Affairs. I must compliment the institute for having trained participants from 107 international countries. It is truly living up to the reputation of a Vishwa Guru in this field.

Dear sisters and brothers,

It is important to impart experiential learning to students. Experiential learning helps in promoting creativity and innovative outcomes. NEP also emphasises the need to develop teaching intensive universities and research-intensive institutions. I feel that NITTTR Chennai must take the lead in producing outstanding teachers through well-structured and scientifically designed training programme. Theoretically it is assumed that teaching is a one way mode of communication, but in reality, it is built on a complex two-way mode where activities need to be connected—CONTENT to CONTEXT.

Friends,

As you all are aware, the pandemic has severely impacted education worldwide. According to a report published by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF, this generation of students now risks losing $17 trillion in lifetime earnings in present value, or about 14 per cent of today’s global GDP, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related school closures. The report also states that school closures affected girls, children from disadvantaged backgrounds, those living in rural areas, children with disabilities and children from ethnic minorities more than their peers.

While the Central and State Governments have taken measures to promote digital learning, it is important to ensure that there is no digital divide. To achieve this, we need to increase access to internet especially in rural areas and remote places. In a country such as ours, with tremendous diversity and layered iniquities, inclusivity is at the heart of the educational experience. The mantra should be—embrace, engage, enlighten and empower.   

In addition to creating the necessary facilities, it is important to upgrade the skills of teachers in e-learning. This is where institutions like yours play a vital role—by equipping them to be tech-savvy to meet local and global challenges.

In this context, I am very happy to have inaugurated the NITTTR Open Educational Resource (OER) earlier. I am confident that the OER will offer high-quality instructional resources for teachers to improve their knowledge base and teaching methodology. This is an important step in improving inclusivity through distance education. I compliment the concerned team behind him and encourage NITTTR to constantly update the course material and keep the learners engaged.

I would also like to compliment our teachers for acting as COVID warriors and doing their best to ensure the academic continuity of their students. Necessity is the mother of invention. In a way, therefore, the pandemic created a compelling need for faculty members to explore newer avenues to use technology in teaching. As a result, the teaching-learning ecosystem has been revolutionized with institutions adopting a hybrid system. Teachers showed remarkable flexibility in reinventing their strategies and methodologies to support the life journeys of learners.

I am happy to note that NITTTR Chennai organized specially designed training programme to the faculty members of several institutions, including IIIT, IIITDM (23 institutes), National Institute of Technology, Tirchirappalli, NIT Patna and others. In addition to training technical teachers, I am told that it also trained medical doctors from Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College (Safdarjung Hospital) New Delhi. I am happy to know that as a goodwill gesture under ITEC, the institute had offered a specially designed two-week training programme and trained several teachers from Maldives.

Please remember that the philosophy of share and care is at the core of Indian culture. If we care to share what we have with others, the happiness we get is beyond explanation and will be always cherished. There has also been an increased focus on online education in the country to ensure accessibility, equity, and quality. I am happy to note that NITTTR Chennai has been designated as the National Coordinator for SWAYAM – Teacher Training. This is certainly an added feather in its cap and deserves to be richly commended.

Dear sisters and brothers,

I am happy to know that NITTTR Chennai is involved in the development of trilingual (English – Tamil – Hindi) dictionary for technical subjects. It is a learning platform which is set to have tremendous impact. I have always been highlighting the importance of imparting education in mother tongue up to primary or high school level. It is my conviction and studies have also shown that learning the content in the mother tongue will result in better comprehension.

The environment in which we teach has great impact in the assimilation of the content. The learning spaces also need to focus on the importance of cleanliness, greenery and sustainability in order to foster holistic learning and individual growth.

In this regard, I am extremely delighted to inaugurate the sports complex today. It has been my firm belief that academic pursuit and physical fitness must go together. If you are physically fit, you will be mentally alert. This pandemic has once again highlighted the importance of physical fitness for better immunity and well being. You must encourage the students to take up some sports or Yoga on a regular basis.

Sisters and brothers,

Teachers are the pivots of Indian society. In the highest human traditions, teachers are personifications of divinity. To match these ideals, teachers must realise the primacy of their role and perform it with a sense of national commitment.

Before concluding, I would like to quote Saint-Poet Thiruvalluvar who brilliantly summarised the purpose of education in his Thirukkural couplet when he said:

“Let a man learn thoroughly whatever he may learn, and let his conduct be worthy of his learning.”

In conclusion, I extend my best wishes to all the faculty members and staff of the NITTTR Chennai who are committed to take this prestigious institution to global standards.

Thank you very much.

Jai Hind!”

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