India’s Achilles’ Heel

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Higher education in India is at a crucial juncture at this point of time. On one hand is the mammoth task of making India’s young future-ready and on the other, challenges that seem insurmountable. Elets News Network takes an eagle’s eye view

india-achilles-heelNews headlines and analyses in the past few months since the new government came to power have been laden with information about ways that the new government programmes are going to transform the face of the nation in coming years. In the education sector, there is a buzz about the transformation that the Digital India programme is going to bring about. Digitisation of educational services and curriculum is a welcome move. However, lack of technology alone is not what ails this vital domain.

India’s education sector is amongst the biggest in the world. The number of higher education institutes too is high. The challenges are several and most of them are linked to the basics – accessibility, power, availability of teachers, infrastructure, so on and so forth. These are issues that have existed for long and the problems – especially in rural and tier II and III cities is only compounding.

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Lack of proper colleges, staff crunch and uncertainty has acted as the biggest hurdles for students in higher education. Finding good, motivated teachers and retaining them is getting tougher by the day. Higher education acts as a vital link between the aspirations of young India and the demands that the industry places on them. The integration of vocational courses with formal education is one issue that has captured the imagination of the government and the nation alike. The increasing number of technical graduates being rendered unemployable by the industry must act as a wakeup call. We must realise that there is a difference between creating a skilled workforce and an army of clerks.

Higher education institutes either funded or aided by the state or central governments also need greater assistance and autonomy to function. Too many regulations and bureaucratic machineries at all levels have plagued this sector for long and this is something that India can ill-afford. Higher investment in this sector will be crucial to development and improving quality standards and learn ing outcomes. Research and innovation need to be ramped up across universities if we really see ourselves competing with the rest of the world.

Getting Future Ready

  • By 2030, India will have the largest population in the world in higher education
  • Rapid industrialisation would require a gross incremental workforce of 250 million
  • Transformational and innovative interventions would be required across all levels
  • India will need a robust higher education system that can deliver on multiple imperatives
  • 23 Indian universities are among the global top 200, up from none two decades ago
  • India is a regional hub for higher education, attracting global learners from all over the world

Each of these issues assumes importance as they will define the future roadmap not just for the country but the entire world. India will have the youngest working population in the world in the coming decades and the sphere of India’s global economic influence is only going to increase. The road that India takes in these years is going to be extremely crucial. The world is watching.

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