SOE EduTalk: School and Teacher Education Systems in South Asia: Opportunities and Challenges for Inclusion

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The session invited Dr. Padma M. Sarangapani & Dr. Rekha Pappu, and was hosted by Dr Tayyaba Tamim. In this session, the guest speakers shed light on the School and Teacher Education Systems in South Asia. A notable feature of education in South Asia is that it has been configured in its postcolonial phase as a key focus area for developmental efforts. Educational institutions of the state have probably the widest spread in the South Asian region; they are even found at the village level in the form of early childhood education centers and primary schools. With the growing role and influence of the private sector in education, the forms and nature of educational provisioning in the region too have been changing. The South Asian educational landscape is complex. It includes modern schools and universities devoted to scientific/universal knowledge. In addition, it also includes local indigenous epistemic traditions of arts, crafts, medicine, architecture, and ecology, as well as religious schools and institutions of scholarship and expert practice such as in the case of medicinal knowledge, music, and performing arts, which continue to be significant in the social and cultural landscape. The speakers identified the similarities, shared colonial legacy, education reforms, and linkage to nation building in the education systems in South Asia. Dr. Rekha highlighted that the education reforms in the present time are geared towards addressing learning outcomes, particularly of basic literacy and numeracy. She discussed the diversity of learners, along the axes of class, caste, gender, ethnicity, language, region, and religion along with the intersectionality of these identities. The need for fostering belongingness of students within educational institutions is regarded as an extremely important principle. Dr. Padma explained that teacher’s authority and respect is rooted in the South Asian education system, however, colonization manifested it differently. Conclusively, the teacher education system, teacher trainings, and curriculum across a variety of schools in South Asia and the way forward were explored in this insightful session.

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