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Envisioning the Future With Intel® Strategic Advocacy Group on Education (SAGE)

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Working towards the need for good strategic planning and an energetic schedule of influencing activities that bring a progressive change in policy or practice, Intel® Education in India has established the ‘Strategic Advocacy Group on Education (SAGE)’. SAGE consists of key thought-leaders, academicians, and representatives from Departments of Education, Government Organizations such as CBSE, NCERT, NAAC and other important organizations, which are influential in policy formulation and reforms for education in India at both the state and central level.

The SAGE has been the result of an evolutionary process built on existing practices and learning faced in the early phase of Intel Teach Program in India. The SAGE members drawing on the collective wisdom, wide range of experiences and deliberations with various stakeholders and community, seek to connect government, various apex institutes, colleges, other educational institutes and stakeholders on policy matters and implementation strategies on matters concerning education especially in optimizing the potential of ICTs for achieving quality educational provisions. The Group endeavors to make systematic and coordinated efforts towards education transformation by providing leadership and direction to the critical issues in education transformation; link them to global good practices and suggest appropriate interventions.

SAGE meeting in Progress Dr. Robert B. Kozma (an independent consultant operating out of California, an expert in ICT and education policy and an Emeritus Director) visited India with the intent of advocating a defined ICT in education policy for the country. The SAGE members interacted with Dr. Kozma in an informative and interactive workshop, ‘Envisioning the Future’ held on 28 September 2011. As a part of this session, the members discussed the conceptual frameworks and practical implementation of the ICT in Education Policy formulation, with particular focus on India.
SAGE meeting in Progress

Objective: Creating ‘Ambassadors of change’
The objective of the session was to share innovative technology usage policies and practices leading to creating a vision for vision for education transformation. Dr. Kozma started off the session by providing an overview of the ‘ICT in Education Policy Toolkit. The toolkit is a useful tool which helps in understanding the complete policy making process.

Dr Bob Kozma sharing different country policy experiences The Overview was followed by an ‘Envisioning’ exercise, in which, the SAGE members discussed their ideas to articulate a national vision that can specify directions for the future in areas such as economic development, telecommunications, education, social programs, and health. Such visions guide policy and program development, which in turn will contribute to achieve the desired goals set by the country. The exercise provided a forum to discuss and identify further areas of research to identify issues and priorities in education and ICT policies arising from different states in India. Research in these areas will help India in articulating and defining its vision for education transformation.
Dr Bob Kozma sharing different country policy experiences

As Dr. Kozma shared, “It will be exciting to see India finding a vision for how to mobilize the brainpower, as the country has a billion people in an economy based on brain power.”

Envisioning: Moving to a 21st Century School
Discussing about the toolkit and its utility in the policy formulation process, Dr. Kozma discussed the need for a long term vision by the Government that is tied to socio-economic goals.

“A systemic approach is essential. Collaboration of Ministries & alignment across layers and primary funding sources like Ministry of HRD, Ministry of Communication & IT, etc. are critical. A Master Plan with clear outcomes and resources ensures commitment”, he said.

ICT is a cornerstone in Education Policy reform. Good policy requires attention to local needs and goals, while having a bigger picture of the national goals. Multi-stakeholder partnerships help the Government in mobilizing and sustaining the policy reforms by scaling from the regional level to the national level. SAGE can play an increasing role in setting benchmarks for effective policy development and sharing implementation strategies both at regional and national level.

Every reform starts with a vision for the future. SAGE envisions a future with fundamental changes in school policy, organization, and management; curriculum and assessment; teacher professional development, teaching, and learning; research and evaluation; and changes enabled by ICT.

To build on this vision, Dr. Kozma shared the experiences of Jordan and Singapore as these countries have done exciting things while focusing on the vision of building a knowledge economy and have laid long-term incremental goals to make sure that the ICT efforts contribute to the set vision.

SAGE: Sharing Knowledge Base
The SAGE members discussed transformation at various levels – skills, society and ICT enabled, which would eventually pave the way for transformation in education. A conceptual framework for transforming education connected to socio-economic development was helpful in identifying policy goals.

As a part of workshop session coordinated by Ms. Shweta Khurana, Manager- Education, Intel South Asia, the members discussed future schools in the country, 15 years from now, when the education system would be infused with technology. The members worked in small groups to brainstorm on specific components of the education system, which were then shared with the larger group. To achieve that state of ideal education system infused with technology, SAGE resolved to contribute through research and working towards improving the conditions and outcomes in education transformation. The members concurred that this contribution would lead to formulation of policies which are effective in national development and education transformation.

While discussing the state of policy development in India, the group held the view that though policy development is happening, there is an urgent need for the development of policy framework trajectory with well-defined timelines and measures for implementation to see real success in policy reforms.

Building on Strategic Advocacy
Based on the National Curriculum Framework, Government of India has mandated the State Governments to come up with individual state curriculum frameworks. The SAGE members opined that the mandate by the Government of India can be the beginning point for its contribution at the regional and state levels. The group will strive to provide models, adaptable to various cultural needs and educational and state level systems. The group will coordinate to ensure that the policies which are already defined on paper will reach the implementation stage by influencing the key decision-makers.

In order to achieve socio-economic development through education transformation in India, the group will continue its focus on its goals of commitment to success for all, for developing quality teachers, for policy alignment over sustained period, for strategic investment, and for systematic change.

Plan Ahead
The SAGE members shall work out an action plan to adapt the ICT in Education Policy toolkit and gather the necessary resources to successfully and effectively advocate the policy reforms across various levels of the education system.

SAGE members believe and look forward to more such in-depth seminars and webinars on the functioning of the Toolkit, which will benefit them greatly in being the ambassadors of change that they have set out to be.