2010: Education Reforms in Waiting

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With this issue, the digital LEARNING magazine is completing 50 issues. This is a unique feat. With this, we have become perhaps the first magazine in entire Asia, Middle East and Africa to have completed 5 years of uninterrupted print magazine publication on ICT in Education. We would like to thank all the people who have supported us: our authors, advertisers, governments, private sector, academia and civil society, and last but not the least, our readers, who have provided us their unstinted encouragement and support.

The Education scenario in India was the focus of attention of everyone in last year. With the arrival of Kapil Sibal as the Minister of HRD in the Government of India, fresh winds of change have been felt. Liberalisation of higher education for the foreign universities, changes in norms for opening new colleges and institutions, relook at the functioning of CBSE etc have been some of the important agenda items for the new minister. On another front, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has been spearheading the skill development initiative which has become an issue of national importance thanks to the massive population growth and the danger of having large scale unemployment in the country.

The education sector in India remained more or less unscathed by the global economic downturn of 2009. The private sector investment in education at levels continued to increase. Although there are legal hurdles in India on private investment in education, still the investment in happening through circuitous routes and government needs to allow private sector investment in this major area of society to let it grow with more speed.

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The government is significantly increasing its investment in the education sector. That is the good news. The bad news is that without proper human resource practices, proper monitoring and evaluation, most of the money is going down the drain. In many government schools across the country the number of officially employed teachers is more than the number of students enrolled there. In an interview in the magazine in this issue the World Bank expert on education perhaps rightly says that teachers in government schools should only be employed on contract.

On the other hand, there are several entrepreneurs all around the country who are running schools on  their own, without any support from the government. The whole licensing system for schools needs major reform as it has become a hindrance to the growth of private sector initiative in the education.

Similar issues are faced in Higher Education where according to a statement of the government in Lok Sabha last year over 2.64 lakh students, who have gone abroad for studies, are spending approximately $5.5 billion (about Rs 27,000 crore) every year. This is an absolute shame and there is an urgent need for creating an ecosystem for private sector entry into the higher education. Just imagine the infrastructure and employment boost that will get created if all this money is spent here in India.

Everyone is looking at 2010 for the big ticket reforms in education from the government. Will the Manmohan Singh

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