Following is the text of the speech of Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister of Human Resource Development on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Central Tibetan Schools Administration:
“Revered His holiness Dalai Lama ji, Honourable KalonTripa, Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangayji, Shrimati Anshu Vaishji, Secretary School Education and Literacy, Shri Apurva Chandra, Joint Secretary and Chairman of the Central Tibetan Schools Administration , distinguished guests and dignitaries, teachers and administrative officials of CTSA, above all the students, media persons and ladies and gentlemen,
1. It is indeed a proud moment for me to be in your midst today – on the joyous occasion of the golden jubilee celebrations of one of the unique educational institutions in the post independent India : The Central Tibetan Schools Administration, CTSA for short.
2. The CTSA is an institution born out the vision of the two great visionaries of all times, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. CTSA is a unique institution in the sense that it not only has a transnational character but an institution that is engaged in the preservation and development of Tibetan history and culture. Your Holiness, your presence here today gives us inspiration and hope for future, a future filled with peace and compassion.
3. The success story of the Central Schools for Tibetans is also the success story of our educational policy planning and its implementation. The Central Schools for Tibetan (CTS) have made a visible impact in every sense of the word. One recalls nostalgically when the CTSA was launched, fifty years ago; it had strength of only 50 students. Today, as the CTSA officials inform me, the strength is around nine thousand student enrolled in 9 Senior Secondary schools, 5 Secondary schools and 7 each of middle primary Schools. The academic performance is revealing, with near 100 percent success in class X and near 90% pass in Class XII. This academic success also reflects the advancement of young Tibetans who have taken to formal education with zeal. And the alumni of CTSA have created a niche for themselves in all spheres of life.
4. I must compliment the CTSA for effectively utilizing its resources to develop a viable infrastructure and human resources base, with the result that the student and applaud the contributions of every one of you involved in the venture.
5. While we bask in the glory of the past when we celebrate the fifty years of existence of this institution, it is also the time and opportunity for us to look inwards and introspect to analyze where and what we could have done better and how we could have overcome the obstacles on our way of progress. So friends let us see how the world has changed in these 50 years.
6. The world today is profoundly different from that 50 years ago. Today we are a global village, owing to instantaneous communications, ease of travel and the revolution in information technology. These technological developments have fundamentally transformed the workplace, be it in science, technology, business, government, politics and I dare say also education. We are witnesses to technological change that is mind-boggling. The rates at which things are changing now are much faster than ever before. Just look at the cell phones. Your smart cell phones today have more computing power than even the Apollo space capsule of five years vintage!
7. We now live in an age of knowledge. Knowledge is now doubling every five to seven years and the rate of change will accelerate in time to come. This self propelling technological progress, unlike even fifty years ago, is altering the essential daily tools we need in our work life. Also not everyone learns most effectively in the same way. And yet in the face of all this evidence, we have hitherto relied almost entirely on passive learning. Students listened to lectures or they read and then were evaluated on the basis of their ability to demonstrate content mastery. They weren’t asked to actively use the knowledge they had acquired. But this is now changing as we push forward with the digital transformation of education, it’s worth taking a look at just how greatly technology can impact teaching and learning — and what’s at stake, not just for our students but our society as a whole. Thus we need to be predicting the impact of technology on work life and hence education needs over longer stretches of time. For as Douglas Adams once observed, “the best way to predict the future is to build it” and this is exactly what we should be doing.
8. So let us attempt to peer into the future to ascertain what skills will be important 10 to 20 years from now, when today’s toddlers, the millenials – will enter the education arena and the work force. Education, we all recognise will then, be more about how to process and use information and less about imparting it. This is a consequence of both the proliferation of knowledge — and how much of it any student can truly absorb — and changes in technology.
9. New technologies will profoundly alter the way knowledge is conveyed. Electronic readers will allow textbooks to be constantly revised, and to incorporate audio and visual effects. Think of a music text in which you can hear pieces of music as you read, or a history text in which you can see film clips about what you are reading. But there are even more profound changes in the offing. In our time teachers had to prepare materials for their lectures/ classes. Then it became clear that it would be a better system if textbooks were written by just a few of the most able experts, this will free teachers from preparing their lectures as they have now available step-wise electronic audio-visual lecture materials. Similarly, it makes sense for students to watch video of the clearest science teacher or biology students to touch, spin and explore the structure of a molecule as they’re reading about it, watch the Haldron experiment as they read about the Higgs-Boson, or the most lucid analyst of the Tibetan history and culture. This will enable teachers to spend less class time reviewing the basics and more time exploring advanced concepts and promoting critical thinking by leading thought-provoking discussions with students — not to mention the material will be better presented.
10.There’s also a collateral benefit to engagement with students who are more deeply engaged in what they’re learning leading to better performance. Also technology will help students to satiate their thirst for connections between what they’re learning in the classroom (and how) and what they see happening in the real world. Thus technology is accomplishing the very real task of connecting the learners more closely to their coursework, to their teachers and to their classmates and completes their homework assignments all in a digital environment. Bringing technology into the classroom will help them to draw these parallels and keeps them interested in what they’re learning. It also provides options for students with different learning styles.
11.“Active learning classrooms” — which cluster students at furniture that can be rearranged and integrated with technology —that will enable teachers to interact more meaningfully with their students through the collection and analysis of performance data making the classroom truly smarter. This will enable the teachers to assess where the students are strong and where they’re weak, how they learn best, and use this data to create personalized pathways to help students build their knowledge and skills. These systems will use student assessments to gather performance data and point students to course content that’s specifically targeted to help them build their knowledge and skills. Such formative assessment programs will help provide insights directly to teachers, allowing them to more efficiently personalize their instruction for every student.
12. Education will thus need to keep abreast of the new knowledge and technology that is being created and the ability to be a lifelong learner. This factor is driving curriculum changes that require students to acquire multi and trans disciplinary skill sets. The general perception amongst most parents about the quality of present day school education is that while the content may have enlarged, the quality of education has declined; my own view is that it is their concept of education that has remained static, the level of competition today is not local but at global level. So also education has to be at that level.
13. I thus feel that in the years to come, schools generally and CTSA schools more particularly should not only be institutions of learning, but must also provide an individualized environment where a student learns the simple techniques of goal setting, planning, dealing with difficult situations in life. In short, life skills must become a central focus of educational efforts. Thus in the present day contexts it is not enough for teachers to merely give information and knowledge to students. This is, of course, basic. But more than information and knowledge, human beings need wisdom. They need character. In the imparting of values, teachers play a major pivotal role. Hence, our emphasis is not only on expansion of and providing access to the educational system of all those who seek to study but more importantly also on improving the knowledgebase and quality of our teachers. Let us not forget that good teachers are costly but bad teachers cost the nation even much more. CTSA schools should thus strive to provide a challenging and enabling environment for children in and outside the classroom.
CTSA’s performance over the first 50 years has been commendable but let us not bask in the past glory, we need to strive, work and achieve even more, that in time to come CTSA institutions are envy and admiration for others to emulate. Thank you.”