Reimagining education has taken centre stage in the post-lockdown era. The colossal impact of Covid-19 on the schooling system has reemphasised the need for new approaches in the education space (Faul & Savage, 2023). The role of the state/government in Delhi has been redefined to envision reformatory leadership in the public education system. Article 29 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child emphasises the responsibility of states to ensure education makes children achieve their full potential. The National Education Policy 2020 of India has also enumerated many ways in which education can support children to reach their full potential. Therefore the necessity to create pathways for children to reach their full potential becomes essential for the state to transform policy into action.
Redefining education leadership
The pandemic caused the closure of schools around the world. India experienced prolonged tenure of school closure that led to immense learning and socio-emotional losses. With schools now having reopened completely after approximately two years, the need is to incorporate innovative solutions and sustainable education models to incorporate better holistic learning processes. One approach towards this is to convert the education system into a more student-centric one. The openness of the states in India for adaptation, blending and implementation is crucial to introduce practices for the welfare of students. It demonstrates the collective consciousness for quality education.
Education in government-run schools in Delhi has been going through a major transformation (Bansal & Roy, 2021). There have been many reforms and interventions introduced that focus on building the leaders of tomorrow. One such intervention aims to create spaces for the verbal expression of opinions, known as Project Voices (Chettri, 2022). It is effectively operational in over 1,000 schools in Delhi with huge student participation in each school. The project is instilling a school-level culture of promoting the indispensable skill of public speaking. It builds confidence among the children as they learn the skill set of articulating thoughts clearly and intelligibly.
The state is also responsible for facilitating international exposure to students. To accomplish this objective, the government acts as a bridge for students to introduce international-level contests such as the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition and encourages students to participate, which resulted in the participation of more than 1,400 students from across government-run schools in Delhi. Furthermore, student-led magazines have been introduced on Sustainable Development Goals. The first editions of the magazines were piloted in 30 schools in Delhi where students contributed to preparing their own magazine and, through this work, became aware of global goals. This endeavour instilled in students many essential skills such as leadership and decision-making as well as editorial, literary and advocacy skills. More than 180 students participated in creating magazines for their respective schools.
‘A focused approach towards building capacities within students and realising their true potential is very important considering that students in government schools hail from different socio-economic backgrounds.’
The way forward
The interventions designed in Delhi with the determination and intention to influence the lives of students directly (such as Project Voices) are pathbreaking examples for governments across the country. A focused approach towards building capacities within students and realising their true potential is very important considering that students in government schools hail from different socio-economic backgrounds. Such innovative projects are crucial to accelerating their full potential. Schools bear the responsibility to pave the way to develop different skill sets within the students and the scarcity of opportunities often restricts their overall growth and development. For this reason, alternative roles of the government in education reforms need to involve contemporary practices in an inclusive manner. The collective participation of different stakeholders with a focus on whole-child development provides valuable characteristics for the development of the overall personality of every student. The much required shift from rote learning to student-centric learning institutions reimagines the role of government schools with the alternative roles of the state in education governance.
The way forward is to further identify potential collaborations with relevant stakeholders such as external partners and civil societies, design innovative solutions to build better education models and incorporate best practices to strengthen the public education system. The present school-level interventions fulfil several objectives by bringing students to the forefront. The significance of developing student agency requires interventions in schools that encourage students to take the lead in accomplishing different tasks in their future academic, personal and professional engagements. The role of the state in redefining education leadership can lead to transformative approaches to enhance student participation. These approaches are vital for developing skills among the students that contribute to collaborative learning in a participatory schooling system.
Bansal, S., & Roy, S. (2021, January 18). School education reforms in Delhi 2015 – 2020. BCG Global. https://www.bcg.com/school-education-reforms-in-delhi-2015-2020
Chettri, S. (2022, July 10). Delhi: Government school kids to be trained for public speaking. Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/delhi-government-school-kids-to-be-trained-for-public-speaking/articleshow/92775323.cms
Faul, M., & Savage, L. (2023). Systems thinking in international education and development. In M. Faul, & L. Savage (Eds.), Systems thinking in international education and development: Unlocking learning for all? Edward Elgar Publishing. https://www.elgaronline.com/edcollbook-oa/book/9781802205930/9781802205930.xml