India has one of the largest networks of educational institutions in the world serving educational aspirations of millions of children and youth in schools, colleges and universities, in technical and professional institutions supported by the government as well as private enterprises in education. In the recent past, large number of private agencies have emerged providing educational services. There are large number of NGOs working in the field to reach out to the unreached. The canvas of Indian Education presents a picture of islands of quality in an ocean of mediocrity and poor quality. The crisis is of quality, and this has been increasingly recognised and articulated in Indian educational policies.
Quality is not function of investment alone, though necessary. It needs research and development activities to innovate, field test, package and disseminate innovation to create an ambience and environment for quality. Indian education clearly misses out on serious research and development for quality.
India has accomplished substantial outreach of education through institutional networks in the government and private, NGO’s and private educational service providers. The missing component is the research and development that could support various educational delivery agencies and service providers.
Establishment of Educational Technology and Management Academy was inspired to fill this void. Decidedly as a policy, ETMA positioned itself as research and development organisation with only that much of field engagement that is necessary for field testing innovations. ETMA’s academic orientation is presented in the following diagram.
ETMA works as an incubation lab for educational innovations; it innovates, tries out in the field, packages, and disseminates to potential users in the existing network of institutions.
There is a disconnect between Science of Human Learning (pedagogy) and Management of Educational Systems. The captains of the two fields almost stay isolated without any mutually respectful relationships. Business of science of human learning is innovating; but business of adoption of innovations in the educational system is that of management. Unless they come together, the innovations will remain in ivory towers or in research papers without getting integrated into the educational system. Second important inspiration behind creating ETMA was to bring these two interdependent fields of study, namely Educational Technology and Management onto the same platform.
Hence, Vision of ETMA is pioneering research-based innovation for quality improvement in education at all levels. Missions and activities are derived out of this Vision.
To fulfill its Vision and Missions, ETMA was set up as a registered Trust Institution in 1993 by a group of academicians from the universities, some of whom have been directly involved in educational policy making and planning at the highest level in the country as member of Central Advisory Board of Education, Governing Council of SSA, Chairman of CABE subcommittee on Universal Secondary Education etc.. ETMA is advised by a Council comprising distinguished scholars from IITs, IIMs, Universities, Industry, and Heads of leading Schools in the Country.
In fulfillment of its objective of pioneering, it undertakes activities which are normally not undertaken by others, or wherever ETMA finds an opportunity and scope for innovation. Here are a few examples:
- ETMA organised the World Conference –Education India: The Next Millennium in 1997 to commemorate 50 years of Indian independence. In this world conferences, all the major national institutions like NCERT, NIEPA, IGNOU came together under the ETMA Umbrella. The conference was inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India; others who addressed and grace the conference were HRD Minister, Finance Minister, Dr Karan Singh, Member Planning Commission, Union Education Secretary, Advisor, COL (Vancouver) and distinguished scholars from all over the world. It was declared by the then HRD Minister as the sector conference celebrating 50 years of Indian independence.
- We also brought out a book, Indian Education: Development since Independence, commemorating 50 years of Indian independence.
- Between 1997 and 2007, we did not organise any conference. In 2005, CABE subcommittee submitted its report on Universal Secondary Education. Report emphasised on the issue of quality. ETMA organized the 2nd conference after 10 years focusing on Quality Education for All. Conference received academic contribution from distinguished scholars from all over the world. Conference was inaugurated by Prof. Mark Bray, Director of IIEP (UNESCO), Paris.
- In the national agenda of quality education for all, missing link is the inclusiveness. ETMA’s 3rd conference addressed the issue of education of the physically and mentally challenged children, children with dyslexia and Dysgraphia. Unlike other conferences, this conference was addressed by medical practitioners, psychiatrists, and educationists. Focus was Education for Every Child.
- India experienced massive reforms during the initial years of UPA II regime without any sound policy backup. Last NPE was enacted in 1986 much before Indian economy opened up. Education could not have been beyond its influence. ETMA organised its 4th landmark conference, Indian Education: The Positive Turmoil in 2011. This conference was inaugurated by Dr. Karan Singh; valedictory address was given by Prof. V. Chinappah, Director IIE, Stockholm University, Sweden. Conference was addressed by people from all walks of life, namely active politicians, educational planners and administrators, technologists, academicians from India and abroad. Need for setting up of an Education Commission was first articulated in this Conference in February. Cause and effect or coincidence, Indian Prime Minister announced constitution of Education Commission on his 15th August, 2011.
- For diffusion of innovation, every conference is followed by a detailed report and proceedings.