By Prof (Dr) N. K. Maheshwary
Director Education, North West Group of Institutions, Punjab
The evolution of Indian education system has seen a very turbulent journey ever since independence and seems to be settling down slowly. The demographic dividends of the young population is an opportunity and challenge as well wherein a stark truth that we are facing is that will the Institutes of Higher Education be able to stand up to the deliver world class learning.
It is in this context that we need urgently to understand the perception of all the stakeholders in the society and improve our home grown institutions to world standards.
The government on its part is launching various schemes to improve the higher education system in India but the flavour of the political affiliations has its toll on the quality of education which is very evident looking to the statistics of the employable youth generated on graduation.
Although, number of measures have been announced all intended to improve the quality of higher education in India wherein the “Higher Education Financing Agency” (HEFA), has announced to give 100 billion rupees (about US$1.5 billion) to improve infrastructure standards. This shall be followed by another initiative whereby the country will develop 20 world-class institutions; 10 public and 10 private.
The vision is admirable, but the Higher Education System in India remains plagued by challenges as indicated below:
A stark reality of shortage of quality teachers
The quest of the political parties to gain political traction through the introduction of inclusiveness the very system of meritocracy has been given to the winds through a quota system that has eroded the very foundation of creating a knowledge society. A better system need to be introduced whereby quality teachers are attracted to this profession and they are able to inculcate a spirit of creativity and innovation in the students. It is sarcastically said by the western nations that India retains the reserved and they attract the deserved, a irony that need to be addressed. The very appeal to be part of the teaching fraternity needs to be enhanced to overcome the shortage of quality new age teachers as the logic of extending the tenure of retired faculty has not served its purpose and seems flawed.
The subsidised cost of education has resulted in lack of improved infrastructure and poor pay to the staff and therefore shortage of quality teachers which is cause of concern. This has resulted in hundreds of privately set-up colleges/ Institutions offering a sub-par standard of education in India in order to turn a profit.
Are we preparing students for employment
The sub standard quality of education has its fall out wherein those graduating struggle to find work.
The assessment tests of students across the country on skills sets like communication, numerical and logical ability and domain knowledge indicate a very pathetic state of affairs.
Why are the young students lured to move out of the country
The primary concern of the education system of any nation should be to improve the enrolment rate and employability of its population. Are we achieving it?
The talented students face a pecuniary situation and seek higher studies abroad and stay back in that country and ultimately become NRIs.
Instead, we in India should be the key regional hub for international study and attract students from all over the globe. This diversity shall bring in competition and provide impetus to improve the standards of our quality education.
If we are able to address the issues as indicated above and the policy makers design such guiding principles that can overcome the basic impediments to the delivery of quality higher education in India I see no reason why we shall not see an accelerated growth in employment/ entrepreneurship amongst the students.