10th School Choice National Conference: Rethinking education

Date: 14 December 2018
Venue: Silver Oak, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi

We hosted the 10th edition of the School Choice National Conference - our flagship, annual conference on education policy, on 14 December at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi. Addressing the theme of 'Alternative Education: Philosophy, Practice, Policy', the conference drew participation from over 200 people, including policy experts and policy-makers, educationists, practitioners, civil society leaders, researchers, journalists and students.

The conference had 3 dedicated panels exploring the philosophy, practice and policy of alternative education in India. Our eminent speakers and panellists consisted of leading policymakers, researchers, academics and education practitioners such as Anil Swarup, Former Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy, Government of India; Padma Shri Geeta Dharmarajan, Founder, Katha; Chandra Bhushan Sharma, Chairman, National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS); and Gitanjali JB, Co-founder, Himalayan Institute of Alternatives, Ladakh (HIAL) among others.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr Sugata Mitra renowned for his 'Hole in the Wall' experiment and winner of TED Prize 2013. The inaugural panel on 'Philosophy: Education beyond conventional classrooms', explored the philosophical/pedagogical foundations of alternative education in the country, deliberating whether the shift from conventional to alternative schooling today is a response to the established failure of mainstream schooling in engendering competence and critical thinking among students. The second-panel 'Practice: Experiments in alternative education', explored efforts to redefine conventional schooling practices both within the framework of established learning sites and outside of it. Drawing from a rich tradition of alternative educational practices in India, the session was a conversation with practitioners in the space to examine the success, challenges, scope of experiments to address some of the key challenges in the education sector in India today.

Highlighting the critique of the pro-government, non-inclusionary policies, the final panel 'Policy: Examining regulatory frameworks' debated the policy framework for alternative education in India, heard perspectives of education experts and explored the involvement of civil society in creating and shaping opinions that govern the thriving model of alternative education in the country.

The conference concluded with the valedictory address delivered by Padma Shri Geeta Dharmarajan who highlighted the need for flexible education policies to help alternative education thrive and flourish.

The conference received significant media coverage with 23 citations in leading print and online publications like Times Now, India Today and Business Standard.

See snapshots from the conference here.