Jumat, 22 Juni 2012

Indian Higher Education - An Overview

Wide discussions are held on the state and concerns of Indian higher education. What really is the issue here? Let us take a look!...
Though the problems associated with this sector are multilayer-ed, I had divided it broadly in to administrative and academic problems, with few subtitles under these as I feel that all other problems like, social, psychological etc. associated with this sector comes in the backdrop of these broad problems. Let us first look in to these problems before going in to the reforms required.
i) Reservation- Reservation and Privatization are perhaps the most debated topic in our higher educational sector, and hence I have listed it first in the list. Increased concern over reservation has negatively affected our higher educational system as it has taken away lime light from many other major concerns. Reservation in any sector (&especially I educational system), causes loss to society, as the brightest do not reach better institutes; but we still continue with it thinking it would bring more good to the society than its losses. Though the need for a reservation still exists it is time to think of its re-allotment for more effectiveness. Sam Pitroda, the chairman of National Knowledge Commission, "Reservation has probably set us back several years in our ability to carry out the reforms we need to."
The popular support that reservation gets had prompted many of our politicians to o on further with reservation (with a need for Supreme Court to intervene in the matter and cap reservation limit to maximum of 50 Percent). The social tensions faced by the authorities against this policy is mainly managed by increasing the total number of seats and also because many among the upper class pursue foreign education.
The proper implementation and gradual reduction of reservation in a democratic country like ours need strong political will, free of prejudices.
ii) Political intervention in universities- This takes place both in policy formation and implementation. Bureaucratic sluggishness, misconceptions and prejudices retard the growth of our higher education sector. The denial of visa for prominent global educationalists to come to India, the slow moving files in government offices on matters concerning collaboration of industry and institutes, the delays in allocation of new courses etc. are the finest examples of this aspect.
Among the policy matters too, the absence of Political visionaries had been a problem while there were 5 IITs established during Nehru's period, only 1 IIT was established prior to the recent establishment of5 new IITs. Unhealthy political among the teaching and the student community and the inefficient funding has also retarded the growth of this field. A prominent educationalist tells, "Our deans and administrators now hang on the spoken word of our politicians, and student unions and teachers beat to their drum. It's so entrenched that asserting independence in appointments and day to day decision turns you in to a radical, a rebel in the system."
As political elite and the government receive benefits of these negative aspects, they prefer a status-quo. Thus, in our higher educational system, we have this uncomfortable condition, as Nandan Nilekani puts it "the state interferes, rather than guiding; (play) politics rather than policy".
iii) Regulation- In the regulatory aspect of higher education, we have a dual problem. On the one hand, we have a confusing array of different regulatory bodies like UGC and AICTE and on the other hand, neither the government, nor UGC or AICTE has an effective control over our Universities. The rating system of the UGC and AICTE is also one with many loop holes.
Due to absence of good legislation, UGC and AICTE had reduced to regulatory bodies that stand helplessly by, as India's university system crumbled, and thus half of India's expanding colleges, as a Vice-chancellor remarked, "are intellectual and social slums".
iv) Funding- India spends only 1.9 percent of its GDP on higher education, the lowest among any nations with GDP higher than $500 billion. Its spending on research activities at universities is also very low compared to both the developed and the emerging nations. Even the funds that are presently allotted are not efficient enough. But, it should be noted that higher funding or investment in higher education can lead to better results only with reforms in the total system.
i) Quality of the Higher education- India is the 3rd largest in the number of higher educational institutes after China and USA and is one of the largest degree producers in the world.
But, quality of these is quite unsatisfactory. No worthwhile invention has been made here. Rote learning can identified as one of the factor behind this. India's engineering and medical colleges, management schools and universities are facing a serious shortage of quality academic faculty by about 20 percent. Global competitiveness of Indian students is comparatively small and is still smaller if the top 10 institutes of India are taken out. India does not have more than 5 universities in the top 500 bracket of the academic ranking of world universities.
ii) Number of Institutions for higher education- Though India is one of the largest in terms of number of institutes for higher education; it is still short of them. This shortage is expected to be more by 2015, thanks to the efforts to improve the enrollment ratio. By 2015, we need at least 1500 universities, against 350 we have today.
iii) Research- The research standards of our country has been poor, both in terms of quality and quantity. If we consider a particular area, say Computer Science, where we are assumed to be strong, we can see that annual PhDs in this field in our country is 25, while it exceeds 800 in USA and 2500 in China. IIT is granted 3-6 patents in a year, where as it is 64 for Stanford and 102 for MIT! We haven't seen any technological adaptation after 1970s and 1980s and not a single major invention emerged from India over past 50 years!!!
iv) Employability- "75 percent of the Indian graduates are unemployable for the work they are trained for", was said by Shri. Narayana Murthy of Infosys. Many people prefer sub-standard engineering degree than good vocational skills, where as 90 percent of the employment opportunities require vocational skills. McKinsley estimates that only 10 percent of Indian students in arts and humanities and only 25 percent of Indian engineering graduates are globally competitive. 12 percent of the 41 million unemployed are either a graduate or a postgraduate!
It is an agreed fact that reforms are required in the area of higher education. Many suggestions on this matter address many of the problems mentioned earlier. Some of them are a panacea for more than one of those problems.
A 'super regulator' which forms a single independent regulatory body would eliminate the confusion prevailing over multiple arrays of regulatory bodies. This would also bring more transparency, setting up of uniform controls and better quality in higher education. We need independent regulatory body free from government or political intervention.
Private participation, if properly propelled can bring out both qualitative and quantitative improvement in our higher educational sector. It is neither possible nor sensible for the government to invest the huge amount that is required for, in our higher educational sector. Private participation, from both inside and outside the country should be encouraged to make more institutes in our country. This will take away the deficit between the demand for higher education and the availability of institutes. This will avoid the instances like that which happened in Delhi University this year, when a 100percent cut-off was announced in a college under the university. Institutes like TISS, BITS, Lady Sriram College, Sriram College of Commerce, Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI), CMC Vellore, St. Stephen's College, etc. has taken away our doubts on the quality of private institutes.
The interactions between industries and institutions should be encouraged, taking necessary precautions, as this can increase the employability of the students.
Reforms have taken in our country when visionaries came in to action, like it happened during Nehru's times. When visionaries like M.S. Swaminathan, Vikram Sarabhai, Sam Pitroda, Verghese Kurien etc. acted, reforms required happened with direction. In the higher educational sector of our country, we have "a Niagra of reports and a Sahara of actions". Reforms required in higher educational sector requires controversial steps, as we are in a democracy. In fact, the market economy has been pushing us to the necessary reforms, to an extent. The question is, whether India can bring about these reforms fast enough to avail the opportunities that the country has today- domestically and globally???

1 komentar:

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