THE malaise in India’s education sector has reached frightening proportions. From nursery admissions to the PhD level, access to good quality education is a struggle for India’s citizens, resulting in very negative, competitively-driven outcomes such as a loss in quality of life for both students and parents, uni-dimensionally focussed youth, and a competitive spirit that is exhausted by the time the young reach the work-force!
On the other hand, there is a proliferation of dubious service providers that engage in activities ranging from the fulfilling of homework commitments; the writing of proposals/ essays for admission to international universities; attracting students to sub-standard educational institutions and finally providing services that allow institutions to claim 100% placements [sic] on this count.
In all of the above, it is the despairing student and his family that is fleeced, fooled and failed in society. While the Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development must focus on all of the above issues, from the perspective of the TERI University – which is a research University – the following issues need urgent attention:
Ensure an environment of excellence: There has been a long drawn out discussion on whether ‘foreign’ universities should be allowed into India or not. But, that is not the moot point. India needs to ensure that it is providing its educational institutions – foreign or national – an operating environment that would attract the brightest minds as faculty members, encourage innovation and knowledge creation, generate curiosity in students and enable them to develop well-rounded personalities with a sense of societal responsibility. The current ‘caste-based’ system (public, private and deemed) of recognizing and supporting universities, even if they are all Indian universities, is definitely not aligned with the aspiration of having Indian universities recognized in global rankings.
The ‘caste-based’ system of recognising and supporting universities, even if they are all Indian universities, is definitely not aligned with the aspiration of having Indian universities recognised in global rankings
Strengthen the regulatory oversight and accreditation system: This action should again be designed with the intent of providing good quality education that is available in adequate quantities. Part of the current malaise we see is due to a failure in the design, communication and enforcement of a regulatory framework as well as a poor monitoring and evaluation framework. Ensuring adequate supply of good quality educational institutions would allow the market to function as a price regulator more effectively than any other mechanism.
Improve supply of faculty resources: A postgraduate student has the option of entering the job market or going on to do research as a PhD student. The best students would today start off on a salary upwards of Rs. 50,000 per month increasing rapidly over a period of 4-5 years. A PhD student gets a stipend of about Rs. 20,000 per month which remains stagnant for the period in which he completes his work. At the end of his or her doctoral studies, the student has limited options for employment, being forced primarily into the education sector as the value of a PhD in other economic sectors of India is yet to be recognized.
While several other points can be added to this list, at this point it is sufficient to say that we need a more enlightened approach to deal with the challenges of the education sector – which are large but manageable.
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