Addressing Quality in Education

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Ashok Thakur,
Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India

We have overtaken USA, when it comes to number of students in higher education

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This year is very crucial in terms of planning our next five years. As the 12th five year plan is being implemented, we must also look  back at the experiences of the 11th five year plan. Our ministry conducted a higher education survey, which was the first ever  institution based survey, in which we got data from almost 400 universities.
We have information on almost about 30 percent of the 30,000 odd colleges. Based on that, we conclude that we are on course as far  as GER is concerned. Now we can say that we have overtaken USA in terms of number of students in higher education sector. USA has  19.5 million students in higher education; whereas India has already crossed the 20 million mark. China is the number one.
India’s achievement of this milestone, primarily was possible because of the rate at which our economy was growing. There was demand for jobs and students opted to go. However, the not so glamorous part is that the quality of most graduates and engineers we produce is poor. So all our efforts in the 12th five year plan by and large will go towards addressing the issue of quality. We spend  about three per cent of our GDP whereas it should ideally be about six percent. Out of this 1.12 percent we spend on higher education, the target should be more than 1.50 percent.
The 11th five year plan recorded a nine times increase in the budget allocation, something that was never done before. We made eight more IITs on the top of the existing seven, we made seven more IIMs against the six IIMs that we already have. In the 12th five year plan, we need to build up on this value. To address faculty development we have to propose a national teachers’ mission and we plan to spend the sizeable amount of money on it. Sixth pay commission has greatly improved the salary of the teaching community.
As a whole, we now want to build further on that and while doing this we will engage all the institutions, we intend to engage not only the premier institutions like IITs, IIMs, but all the universities.

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