There was unanimity amongst the members of the G20 National to collectively work on the four priority sectors: foundational literacy and numeracy; technology-enabled learning; skills and the future of work; and research and collaboration.

“We need to work and focus on these topics and come out with a resolution that will happen in June with a metric that is acceptable to all the countries,” said K Sanjay Murthy, Secretary Higher Education, Government of India, and Chair G20 Education Working Group, India, after the first G20 Education Working Group held in the city from February 1 to 3.

Everybody left the seminar with consensus on the topics that have been dealt with and the resolution to work on them with greater focus to ensure that we do come out with some good outcomes in the June meeting of the ministerial level, he briefed newspersons on the outcomes of the Chennai meeting, the first of the four. The next three meetings will happen in Amritsar, Bhubaneshwar, and Pune (in June). 

“At Chennai, we laid the ground to discuss the four priorities identified by us,” Murthy told media at the end of the summit.

Main issues

Sanjay Kumar, Secretary of School Education and Literacy, two main issues in school education that were discussed in the meeting, the first strengthening foundational literacy and numeracy. All the countries are doing it in some way or another. “We are in the process of understanding to how we can profit from their experience and also what India can offer them.

The second issue was to make sure to use schools as the platform to bring in skilling and vocational education. The National Educational Policy says that it has to be done from grade 6 onwards. Many of the G20 countries, like South Korea and most of the European countries, have good experience running vocational education. “We are looking at how a common skill architecture can be developed,” he said.

Skilling happens at several levels. At present, it is in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. During the transition from elementary to secondary education, there are few dropouts. Bringing in skilling and vocational education is an opportunity to reduce this rate, he said.

“We have identified, as per market needs, several types of skilling that will be provided in the schools. Children will take it as per their likings. This will be worked out under the National Education Policy, which also says that by 2025, at least 50 per cent of the students should have vocational experience. We need to universalise it by 2030. This is a good opportunity to institutionalise it within the school system. If all the children are in the school, then it is the best place to learn,” he said.