The election manifesto released by the Congress party has laid emphasis on:
- What they have done
- Improving quality
The UPA government has added a lot of capacity with their SSA program. However, it is universally accepted that the quality of education needs to improve.
Also, sports has never been at the “centre-stage” of any discussion and the manifesto does make a mention of improving the quality of sports.
Skilling has received a “holistic” treatment in the Congress manifesto. However, implementation of such ideas is where the “rubber meets the road”.
Relevant portions on skilling in the CONGRESS manifesto
Quality education and sports infrastructure in India. A National Sports Education University will nurture talent. We will address issues relating to discrimination against students from the North East and J&K.
What We Have Done
Youth are our future and we gave them the skills and knowledge needed to lead us into the future. Our National Youth Policy, 2014, provides for equal opportunities for all disadvantaged and marginalised sections of our youth. We also invested heavily in youth education, opening nine new IITs and seven new IIMs. Holistic development of our youth has been ensured under the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan.
What We Plan To Do
Our aim is to give India the best education system in the world. We will transform “Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan” to “Shreshth Shiksha Abhiyan,” provide state-of-the-art sporting facilities across India and establish a National Sports Education University. Youths from J&K, NE and LWE affected areas will receive special attention. A state-run employment exchange will be opened for those seeking employment abroad.
- Improving QualityTo improve quality of secondary education, we will focus on the implementation of the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan.
- Expanding InfrastructureRashtriya Uchhatar Shiksha Abhiyan will provide funding to improve college and university infrastructure. RUSA will help create 70 new universities.
- Confronting DiscriminationWe will address issues relating to discrimination against students from the North East and J&K.
- Cultivating TalentA National Sports Education University will be set up to educate students with exceptional talent.
- Improving Youth RepresentationWill set up a National Commission for Students and a National Youth Commission.
- Uncovering TalentA team of sports experts would continuously scout for talent in the age-group of 8-15 years across India.
- Focusing on Special Needs ChildrenWill strengthen facilities for children with special needs.
- Quality Sporting FacilitiesRajiv Gandhi Khel Abhiyan will be implemented to ensure high quality sporting facilities across India.
- Enforcing Standards of QualityAn independent regulatory mechanism will oversee State and private institutions to ensure standardisation and quality of education.
A division bench of the Bombay High Court has recently ruled that unaided minority schools, which do not get direct monetary or salary grants from the government, do not have to reserve 25 percent seats under the Right to Education (RTE) Act.
The State government had contended that getting tax concessions and land at concessional rates from the government would mean that such schools would fall in the category of aided schools. The Court rejected this argument.
In 2012, the Supreme Court (Society for unaided private schools of Rajasthan vs. Union of India) had held that RTE was not applicable to unaided minority institutions.
With the Bombay High Court (Bombay High Court RTE Judgement – Minority Institutions Dec 24 2013 CWP1725813) affirming this view, it has come as a relief to private unaided minority schools.
A recent report in WSJ (6th November, 2013) mentioned that new foreign enrollments at U.S. graduate schools rose at the fastest pace since 2006, fueled by a surge in Indian students.
Overall, first time international students in U.S. graduate programs rose 10 per cent to 71,418 students. Students from India reported a 40% jump in new students, outpacing the 1% and 2% increases in 2012 and 2011.
So, what is leading to the upsurge, particularly when the Rupee is rather weak against the dollar, thereby increasing the cost of education in Rupee terms?
Other than some exceptions (IIT, NIT), the overall quality of undergraduate education in India is far below the global standards. Any student finds it extremely daunting to get into these top tier Institutes. Hence, rather than get into this rat race, students prefer to opt to go to the US.
Not many Indian universities figure in the top 200 in the world and there is a long way to go for improvement of quality.
Lastly, with the economy trudging at sub 5 per cent growth rate, Indians would prefer to place their bets more on U.S. education!
A recent analysis by Technopak, states that India requires 1.16 million faculty for all the Universities in India. As against this, India has a total faculty strength of 810,000, which means that there is present shortage of 350,000.
In 2020, the shortage will rise to 1.38 million.
How can this slide be stopped?
Every year, India needs to add 170,000 to its faculty strength. To make this profession more attractive, Universities need to increase the compensation paid to the faculty and also allow freedom to take up consulting assignments.
India can also certainly attract faculty from abroad for short term assignments of 1-2 years, which can bridge the immediate gap.
The government has also relaxed the norms for hiring faculty and increased the retirement age to 70.
A multi-pronged approach is required to tackle this mammoth problem facing Universities in India. Unless this slide is arrested, faculty shortage problem will continue to plague Indian Universities.
As per a recent news reports, 20 per cent of 1.5 million engineering seats are vacant. In Maharashtra alone, there are 50,000 vacant seats in 10 universities.
What is happening?
As demand for engineering seats grew more than the supply, many people rushed to set up engineering colleges, which had poor infrastructure and low quality of faculty. This has led to a situation where there has been a sudden spate of engineering colleges, leading to an oversupply of engineering colleges.
Students are now getting smarter and wiser and shunning poor quality colleges, resulting in vacant seats.
Eventually, market forces will prevail and poor quality engineering colleges will have to shut down and only good quality engineering colleges will survive.
Technology is changing the manner in which education is delivered and consumed; Ninad Karpe, CEO & MD, Aptech, speaks at the World Investment Conference, Strasbourg, France
Business India – Powering Education
The government has recently announced that the Rajiv Gandhi National Aviation University will be established as a Central University and as an autonomous body under the administrative control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation at an estimated cost of Rs. 202 crore at Rae Bareli.
In a statement issued by the government, it mentioned that “a skilled and competent workforce was essential to create a safe and efficient aviation industry. Despite many private institutions providing education and training in aviation, there is general consensus amongst stakeholders that the number of programmes offered, depth of course content and infrastructure facilities available with them are not sufficient to meet the industry requirements. The aviation university is, therefore, necessary to cater to the growing educational and training requirements of the civil aviation sector”.
The university aims to facilitate and promote aviation studies, teaching, training and research with focus on emerging areas of studies such as aviation management, regulation and policy, history, science and engineering, law, safety and security and aviation medicine, search and rescue, transportation of dangerous goods, environmental studies and other related fields, and also to achieve excellence in these and connected fields in emerging areas and such areas as may emerge in future.
There is certainly a need for a national aviation university to meet the increasing needs of the aviation sector. However, the government needs to start with a liberalized aviation policy, encouraging India to become an aviation hub. Countries like Singapore, Thailand and U.A.E and miles ahead in this respect and attract a big volume of tourists’ traffic. Also, ideally, an aviation university should be located near an aviation hub, which could give students an opportunity to get some practical experience.
After the announcement of an all-women’s bank, it is the now the turn of setting up an all-women’s university!
To be called the Indira Gandhi National University for Women, it will be set up in Rae Bareli. An amount of Rs. 500 crores has been set aside in the 12th Plan period.
According to the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Manish Tewari, the Indira Gandhi National University for Women would “set the pace for all-round growth and development of women in the country and supplement the efforts of the government for women’s empowerment by giving them an increased access to employment-oriented basic courses and high end research”.
Whilst a university of this kind will make the correct political noise, the moot question is – will be really have a big impact on women’s empowerment? Also, importantly, in this time and age, isn’t diversity an important component in university education?
Sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true – there are vacant seats at IITs this year.
How did this happen?
Eight new IITs were announced in 2008 – Ropar, Bhubhaneshwar, Gandhinagar, Hyderabad, Indore, Mandi, Patna and Jodhpur.
These new IITs started their activities from make-shift campuses and are in the process of building a campus. Students understand that these new IITs will have some teething issues and don’t seek admission in them as a matter of first choice. Result? Some of them have vacant seats.
Instead of starting these news IITs, without a permanent campus and facilities, wouldn’t it have been better if proper facilities were created and then allow admission for students? Won’t these new IITs be burdened with a situation where they will have to constantly bear the burden of starting their college and then aspiring to reach the brand aura of IIT?
The mad craze for IIT will continue. However, till such time that the new IITs do not come up to the standards to the older IITs, they will always remain a second choice.
Any graduate would expect to get a job once she passes her exams (assuming that there are jobs available for graduates).
NASSCOM has been consistently stating that only 25 percent of the engineers who graduate every year are employable by the IT industry.
Another research done by Aspiring Minds has come to the conclusion that only 53 percent of all the graduates are employable.
What is happening?
Companies desire to have graduates fit into their jobs exactly as they want them to; almost like fitting a spare part. They would not want to spend money re-training a graduate. And why should they?
There is still a gap in the Industry – Academia partnership in evolving an industry-ready syllabus and course.
More importantly, India does not have an ecosystem of internships for students, which gives them a real world experience whilst they are studying.
And to add to this problem, universities have a slow process of updating and upgrading their syllabus.
Till such time as all these individual pieces are resolved and put together in the jigsaw puzzle, India will have to grapple with the problem of educated but ‘unemployable’ graduates.