The inaugural ceremony of the Civil 20 Education and Digital Transformation (EDT) Working Group was held virtually on 15th February 2023. Over 310 attendees from 14 countries, including the US, Switzerland, France, Germany, Slovenia, South Africa, Mauritius, Philippines, Ethiopia, Turkey, and Spain, and participants from several states across India, participated.
The distinguished speakers included Swami Amritaswarupananda Puri, C20 Troika, President of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, and Chair of Mata Amritanandamayi Math; Ambassador Vijay K. Nambiar, Principal Coordinator, C20; Dr. P Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham; Professor Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, of the National Educational Technology Forum; and EDT’s Coordinators Dr. Prema Nedungadi, and Dr. Joost Mönks.
Swami Amritaswrupananda Puri represented the Civil 20 Troika. Quoting Amma, he said that education aims to develop a culture of learning to respect and love nature, where understanding nature, knowledge, and love should go hand in hand. Digitisation has set in motion a massive transformation that profoundly influences the younger generation, and it is crucial to set a good example for the next generation.
Principal Coordinator (Sherpa), Ambassador Shri. Vijay K. Nambiar underlined how during the pandemic, leveraging technology taught educational institutions to become more resilient and inclusive. He mentioned that this change had been expedited by online learning, and institutions are exploring a variety of new routes to achieve important SDG goals.
He also noted that, along with this shift, twenty-first-century soft skills would assist in battling global poverty, and digital delivery undoubtedly reduce the inequality in learning. Creating digital media platforms to showcase cultures from around the world will enhance cultural understanding.
Dr. P Venkat Rangan, Vice Chancellor, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, mentioned that Amma has presented an opportunity to transform education and that transformation takes place in several dimensions.
He stressed that learning should be made interesting and make learners inquisitive with the support of a role model to help them transform from ordinary to extraordinary. Future citizens should practice compassion, integrity, and faculty members play a vital part in higher educational institutions as they must nurture students. Combining creativity and curiosity will lead to a high level of knowledge, and digital computation and compassion should balance each other.
Encapsulating the key mandates of the EDT Working Group, Professor Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman, of the National Educational Technology Forum, said that access, quality, equity, and affordability are central to education to reach all segments of society. To build an inclusive education system, he observed that technology genuinely provides the opportunity since speed, scalability, and efficiency are critical elements of digital transformation.
“I am aware of the great work that is being done in Amrita University, which has been taking the lead role in the C20, G20 summit on Education and Digital Transformation,” he said. “Along with competition and compassion, collaboration is very important. It is the third ‘c’, which is very relevant. We would have worked together and could have achieved in 1/10th the time and cost, and that is the spirit with which we should go, and G20 is the opportunity.”
As EDT’s Co-Coordinators, Dr. Prema Nedungadi and Dr. Joost Mönks elaborated on the activities, objectives, events, timelines, and future directions of the working group. Dr. Nedungadi, who is Director of Amrita CREATE, and Chairperson, School of Computing, Amritapuri, explained how the subthemes were arrived at to address some of the critical challenges in the education systems and meet the needs of diverse students.
Dr. Joost Mönks, who is Executive Director, HQAI and Lecturer, University of Geneva, highlighted that inclusive human-centric digital transformation, innovative ecosystem, and digital literacy are vital, and that all of these aspects must be simultaneously focused on in various working group activities.