Live Webinar by HRD Minister Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on May 28, 2020

A live webinar was conducted by National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore to all the Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) of the country on the topic “Turn the Challenges to Opportunities: COVID-19 Pandemics and Measures to Combat in Higher Education of India” on 28th May 2020. The webinar was addressed by Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Hon’ble Minister, Human Resource Development. The same was attended by more than 70,000 participants which includes Vice Chancellors, Directors, Deans, Faculty members, Registrars and other Academicians across the country.

The webinar was quite invigorating. Dr. Pokhriyal addressed various key issues during his address. He recognized the efforts of the NAAC and all the teachers, students of the country in turning this COVID pandemic into an opportunity. He said that in these trying times, our fellow citizens, especially people from all the academic institutions have ensured that no child is deprived of education even in the remotest areas. He also talked about the ways in which the government has also made efforts to ensure the same.

Important highlights of the discussion:

The importance of e-learning platforms in India:
Dr. Pokhriyal pointed out the fact that in a country like India, there are more no. of students than the entire population of America and it was just a matter of time before new techniques in education and teaching were introduced in the country. At present more than 33 to 35 crore children are utilizing various e-learning platforms for their studies. More than a million different courses are being offered on thousands of e-learning platforms and this is the opportunity for the young minds in our country to make use of this precious time and find new and interesting things to learn and do.

Information about the exams of colleges and other entrance exams:
The honorable minister established that the safety of their students and teachers is of the utmost importance and it’s the first priority of the ministry. As far as exams are concerned, if the lockdown restrictions ease in the month of July then the exams might take place but if not the students will be passed onto the next semester on the basis of the 50-50 aggregation of the previous semester’s result and this semester’s internal exams and assessments. The exams for the students of final year will be conducted one way or the other. If not offline then online. The schedule for the entrance exams like JEE and NEET will soon be announced.

Regarding making education accessible to children:
Dr. Pokhriyal told us about the government’s efforts in ensuring the accessibility of education to the child even in the remotest part of the country. He told us about the platforms introduced by the government like, National Testing Agency (NTA) app which currently has more than 75000 active subscribers and has more than 4.7 lakh downloads, the DIKSHA portal, collaboration with the National Digital library which has more than 4.5 crore online e-libraries, the GIAN portal and also new introductions by the UGC. He also congratulated the teachers who were part of the SPARC program through which the teachers have collaborated with 127 foreign universities by which they are teaching foreign students as well. If a child doesn’t have an active internet connection with him/her then the government is planning to increase the no. of lectures on their 32 channels of SWAYAM PRABHA which are free to air channels available on all DTH and cable tv connections. He also mentioned GIAN+, STRIDE, IMPRINT schemes during his address. He showed the people that the government is leaving no stone unturned as far as education is concerned in these trying times.

The future of education in India: 
India is now seen in a new light. We were pioneers of modern education. The first universities were established in India like Nalanda and Takshila in which scholars and students from all over the world came and studied. Now India has a chance to do it once again. Right now India’s GR is 25%, the government aims to bring it to 50% soon. Our honorable Prime Minister’s efforts towards making India a science and education leader includes the promotion of our Indian universities which would lead to an increase in the enrollment of non-Indian students in them and also the increase in our teachers teaching in other countries’ universities.

India-a leader in education:
The HRD minister also pointed out the efforts in promoting new and innovative teaching and learning ideas in various states and also at the centre. In the recent 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package introduced by the government of India, there are also 3-4 provisions for the education sector. Under that, UGC is planning to integrate 100 universities of India via an e-learning platform for smooth teaching and learning.

A healthy mind leads to healthy education:
The government is planning to introduce a scheme ‘MANODARPAN’- Psychosocial support for mental health & well being of students during the COVID outbreak and beyond. It will ensure that a student’s morale is not affected by COVID and he/she is in the right frame of mind to learn.

New researches in making equipments/devices to battle COVID-19:
At present many universities are working on developing new models and devices to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in India and the PM is also backing each and every one of them. He talked about a web-portal YUKTI (Young India Combating COVID with Knowledge, Technology and Innovation). It’s a unique portal and dashboard to monitor and record the efforts and initiatives of MHRD. The portal intends to cover the different dimensions of COVID-19 challenges in a very holistic and comprehensive way.

India is a country in which education is valued the most. We have ample talent to reach to new and greater heights and this time not just alone but taking the world as a whole with us forward in our mission in making India a symbol of growth and prosperity. The goal of making our country a 5 trillion dollars economy in the coming years will not be difficult if the country prospers on the backbone of talented students and experienced teachers. The efforts by our PM like Make in India, Skill India, developing a Start-up culture and Stand-Up culture in all sectors of business and education have sparked a fire in the country’s young minds and it will continue to be lit if we keep working hard towards a common goal of making India great Again. Dr. Pokhriyal sees a new India and believes that this century is India’s century and our academicians will play a key part in making that dream a reality. In the end Dr. D.P. Singh from the UGC commented that how UGC is working even in this global pandemic situation that how they keep motivating students and with a quote of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan which is “teaching is not a profession it is a mission”. He also appreciated various schemes. With his closure remarks, he thanked Dr. Pokhriyal and more than 45000 participating institutions. Director, Dean, HoDs and senior faculty members of Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology, Delhi also attended the same.