Schools Training

An unsustainable education model

19 FEB 2014

In India, it has suddenly become fashionable to talk about the poor global rankings of higher education institutions. In the three widely referred to global university rankings of 2013 – those of Shanghai, QS and Times Higher Education – India had no institution among the top 200.

Only one Indian institute figured in the Shanghai ranking’s top 500 and just five were among the top 400 in both the QS andTHE rankings.

The academic community in India must be bemused by the shrill pitch of this discussion because they know first-hand how deep the rot is. And for the same reason, academia in India will be hoping against hope that this time meaningful action, beyond rhetoric, will be initiated.

Increased awareness brings a focus on one of the two most critical challenges that India faces due to its demography, the one being education and the other healthcare.

The all-important question to be asked now is, after the discussions and debates are over, what policy actions are we going to initiate? India’s continuing poor performance surely indicates that there is a national crisis.

Unfortunately, going by past trends, the outlook is not hopeful. Back in 1966, in a report submitted by an Education Commission constituted by the government, the commission noted: “The destiny of India is now being shaped in her classrooms.”

The same sentiment is magnified many times more now, across a number of forums. Many more commissions, such as the National Knowledge Commission, have been formed for that purpose in recent times, but the Commission’s term ended suddenly, at best generating a list of recommendations without a clear sense of ownership or implementation plans for those recommendations.

India has the world’s highest number of young people now, unparalleled in global history. In absolute numbers, India’s under 15-year-old age group, at 410 million, is 3% less than that of theentire developed world – 199 million – and China’s 230 million put together.

India has undergone a massive expansion in higher education since the beginning of this century and in primary education over the last couple of decades. This has been accompanied by a focus on the need for improvement in higher education quality and India needs a lot of work done in this area.

Primary education reached near universal enrolment, but simultaneously its quality was close to the bottom of global standards. In higher education, which has around 20% enrolment, India still remains far below the global average.

 

Read full article: University World News