From periphery to centre stage: Something fundamental is changing about education

School and education was a major poll plank of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) during the 2020 electioneering campaign for February 8 assembly elections in Delhi and the party retained power with a huge electoral victory by winning 62 of the 70 seats. For sure, there would be a lot of other factors including water and electricity subsidies besides free bus rides for women in addition to this plank, but the incumbent party leaders clearly put an all out emphasis on good schools and education.

The improvement of government schools in Delhi became a talking point. It was already a political discourse by the time of result analysis. It was perhaps historic as well as education and children always took a backseat in all kind of elections and remained a paragraph on manifestoes of political parties. It is not that Delhi has found a magic solution to fix the ailing government school system under AAP government in the last five years. In fact, it is still a long road ahead before, the script can qualify as success story or turn around. But what has happened is no less extraordinary and innovative. Problem identification and solutions development has been nearly mainstreamed into the system by involvement of stakeholders and more availability of funds. This work in progress model is certainly looking towards a destined vision of enriching school experience for everybody and raising the standards of learning outcomes and schools.

Because all this is happening with a lot of commitment, engagement and professional zeal, the transformation is genuinely credible for most people.  The meaning of real development through development of human resource and wellbeing of society is getting recognition. The narrative of nationalism is becoming inclusive with values of egalitarianism, excellence and social cohesion.

It is not that AAP government alone is focusing on improving education. In fact, several states in their own way are doing a lot of good work in various stretches and spaces, some of which is visible as well. States like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kerala—all have success stories in making. The education development index, SEQI, is also adding its own dynamism and urgency to educational achievements particularly in school education segment. With Delhi proving political and electoral usefulness of addressing challenges in education, in coming times, education show offs will be a healthy competition in electoral politics.

What Delhi has shown is that government school system is not irreparable as some people have been writing their obituary  for years now, certainly it can made to deliver  as a lively people-centric ecosystem of nation building. There are several gaps at school level more so by looking at shortage of trained subject teachers and good infrastructure. Exponential technologies have posed their own challenges for future and tech will constitute more than half of economy in next five years, so education at all levels needs reimagination and consistent innovation.   

Delhi as said above has miles to go before, it is passed on as a model success. Technical education and higher education along with skills space is still untouched with the kind of passion and purpose shown in school education. So, this space to be watched with keen interest as Kejriwal 3.0 sets out to take its promised agenda forward.