Thiruvananthapuram: Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan on Saturday said India is advancing rapidly in digital education and the Centre is committed to bring the benefits of technology to all citizens.
Upskilling the youth and increasing digitalisation in education are the Union government's top priorities, he said addressing a gathering at the inaugural day of the two-day 'C20 Summit on Education and Digital Transformation' here.
In his capacity as the chief guest of the summit, he said C20 provides a platform for civil society organisations around the world to voice people's aspirations to the world leaders in G20.
Several dignitaries from the country and abroad attended the inaugural ceremony hosted by the official Engagement Group of C20 on Education and Digital Transformation (EDT), a statement said.
Addressing the delegates, the Union minister said the Centre has ensured that India’s yearlong G20 presidency is not limited to just being a routine diplomatic exercise but is truly a "people's G20".
The G20-related meetings are being organised all over India and so far as many as 41 cities have been covered and more than 12,300 delegates from 110 nationalities have participated in it, he said.
Stating that India is advancing rapidly in digital education, he said the Government of India is committed to reducing the digital divide and bringing the benefits of technology to all citizens.
"Upskilling the youth and increasing digitalisation in education are our top priorities. Our seriousness can be gauged by the fact that the education sector has received the highest ever allocation of USD 13.66 billion in the Union Budget," Muraleedharan said.
He said numerous policy initiatives have been taken for the education sector and the New Education Policy (NEP) has provided a framework for the digitalisation of education by concentrating on digital infrastructure, blending learning, online platforms, open education resources and skill development.
"It is because of such initiatives that students living in the remotest corners of India can gain access to quality education today," he said.
In her video address, renowned spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi, who is the Chair of C20 India, said humanity is facing many extraordinary challenges today. "Today, human beings need two qualities: the wisdom to recognise the problem and the mental attitude and intelligence to correct it," she said.
The huge leap in science and technology, along with misuse of internet and increasing drug abuse among students are all contributing to the predicament we face today, she opined.
Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, during his address as the guest of honour, said the definition of education must include digital literacy for children to access contemporary knowledge sources.
Digitising classrooms and introducing a national computer curriculum in all languages is necessary, he said adding that this would enable even primary school children to gain a basic understanding of computers and digital technology.
Adequate funds must be allocated by the government to ensure its availability and provide training to teachers, he said.
Without taking up such measures and also considering the existing barriers of class, caste, and gender, the push given towards online education may further divide society rather than being a tool for progress, the MP added.
The summit saw the launch of the 'Amrita Kutumbakam' mobile app created by AmritaCREATE, an educational technology initiative of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham.
Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, Vice Chairman, Mata Amritanandamayi Math and Troika Member C20; Dr Luiz Claudio Costa, Former Vice-Minister of Education, Brazil; and Armoogum Parsuramen, Former Education Minister of Mauritius and ex-director of UNESCO were among those who took part in the summit.
The G20 (Group of 20) is a forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union. It works to address major issues related to the global economy, the statement added.
India would be hosting the Heads of States Leaders' Summit marking the culmination of the year-long G20 presidency between September 9-10 in Delhi.
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