Education is the bedrock of a strong nation and a prosperous world. Without it, an individual, a family, society, nation and the world cannot function and grew. But what do we really mean when we say education ? Does it only mean the capacity to read, write and pass examinations ? Or is it the ability to lead a happy and fulfilling life ? Is it something which should be similar for all or can it be personal ? Does India today need an education which is relevant to her ethos and history or do we need an education which homogenises the experiences of a few ? Do we need to seriously ponder on the need of establishing new orders and solutions for education in India and the world ? if yes, what are those solutions ?
India has a huge network of contemporary schools. While the extent of this network is admirable, it also invites deep and damaging criticisms for its inability i) train students in basic creative and analytical aptitude, ii) prepare them for life’s challenges, and iii) instill the depth of character and human values required for them to be good citizens, and caring members of the society it sometimes seems that all the three aspects above simply can’t be done at scale.
To address these multifarious challenges, a serious and thorough brainstorming and debate on these issues is needed on one hand, and glimpses of some actions and possible solutions on the other. India has millennia of accumulated wisdom and experience in the domain of education and even today there are several large and small scale, private / civil society and governmental efforts that harmonize conflicting requirements, and find solutions to the complex challenges.
The Vrindavan cluster of Unnat Bharat Abhiyan (IIT Delhi) has been working on holistic interventions in government schools in the cluster villages. This work is being done in collaboration with several other organizations such as Government of Uttar Pradesh (through the Brij Teerth Vikas Board), Akshyapatra Foundation (local resource persons), Vision India Foundation (VIF, providing on-the-ground fellows), Bharat Vikas Nyas (funding and other support for events), Parmeshvari Devi Dhanuka Vidyalaya (reputed school in Vrindavan town, part of the Vidya Bharti network), and individuals including relevant government officials such as the SDM, and Basic Shiksha Adhikari of Mathura district. The interventions were also preceded by visits to several schools all over the country known to deliver education differently and catering to the holistic needs of the child, such as the Muni international School (Delhi), Gyan Prabodhini (Pune), Riverside School, Rishi Valley School, Sri Aurobindo Ashram school (Delhi), Gyan Prabodhini (Pune), Riverside School, Rishi Valley School, Sri Aurobindo Ashram school and more, incorporating all these experiences, this team team has put together the concept of a conference on education titled Antaram – A Meaningful Pause for Solutions in Education.
The conference aims to understand, contemplate and reflect holistically on education, share innovative interventions and models of both the successes and failures of individuals and institutions kindling change in education in India, and subsequently find simple and implementable solutions for meaningful education in India and the world through active youth engagement. To achieve this, the conference will feature leading educationists, thinkers, practitioners of various education thoughts, leaders and representatives of visionary schools across India, grass-root leaders including government teachers, principals, civil society representatives, education-entrepreneurs, change-makers from Central and State Governments including bureaucrats and ministers. The subsequent pages provides more details of the conference, including the proposed two day schedule.