Not to produce manpower for IT companies!
Education’s goals are noble, to produce men and women of character, citizens and give them identity etc!
There is this trend today. The rather dominant and because it comes from people who made it good in making huge money, in IT and that is why the particular view is getting noticed, media reports that view and so we get bowled over!
What is it?
For instance, the other day a speech by the Infosys man, T.V. Mohandas Pai, is reported to have spoken to an audience in Chennai. What he said?
To put it in brief, he said: our education system is out of date. Out of sync vocational education. A woefully inadequate network of colleges and universities. Our one billion people have just 450 universities, 18,000 colleges, 11 million students; our enrolment rate is just 11 per cent while it is 25 per cent for emerging markets, developing countries 52 per cent! It is not reported whether he mentioned any countries.
Now, he says in effect: open up the Indian market for private and foreign universities, dont regulate whatever, leave the education market for free competition!
Obviously, he supports the Sam Pitroda headed Knowledge Commission, open 1,500 universities etc.
Now, he also says that in Rajasthan where it seems Infosys is adviser to the Rajasthan government, there he met young men who are M.A.s and yet they cant speak. Because the medium is in Hindi.
Yes, this we all know. He also decries the menace of coaching institutes which from Kota gets as much as 3,000 students into IITs out of the total of 4,500 students admitted.
He decries the arts courses, the learning of the local languages and he decries quite a lot.
Then, what is the practical suggestion he makes?
He cites the name of Mr.Narayanamurthy who sat on the committee that selects the Rhodes scholars and it seems Mr.Murthy couldn’t select the first rank holder from the Delhi IIT because he was no good, couldnt answer questions ,he was just a crammer etc”
These are nice words and thoughts but what do this amount to?
We dare say: practically to nothing!
Certainly no government can open up the education “market” for unrestricted entry to private players, local or foreign.
Already we see the undesirable developments in higher education in India. More so in the private sector, self-financing colleges in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and AP and Maharashtra, among other states.
There is a sudden growth and also shortfalls for various reasons. Poverty is a major factor. The other factor is the lack of students meeting the minimum standards of entry. Can we suddenly raise the numbers to the mind-boggling percentages as mentioned by Mr.Pai?
Or, does the Infosys team have an alternative plan to enroll the largest numbers they bandy about?
Simply, you can talk, you can’t talk anything and draw mind-shattering numbers and get out!
Education is expanding in India in faster manner, no doubt. The very large numbers is what is possible in the system now. Pai says 2 lakh students are now studying abroad. Such numbers might still go up, depending upon the attractions of foreign universities.
It still matters how many in India will go to universities.
Only when the economic opportunities create a demand for jobs, the attention and attraction of particular education or training will motivate the students. A government can’t give scholarships to all whatever are the qualifications? There has to be a democratically sensible regulatory mechanism.
Like all corporate leaders, India’s It leaders also talk. What the corporate world sees as the country’s priorities are different from what the larger society, the elite and polity see them, the priorities to be.
Also, education for a country like India has many dimensions. Education’s purpose and goals for Indian society and culture and the very fabric of social interaction and integration has many more dimensions than the ones mentioned by Mr.Pai.
Rhodes Scholars, Mr.Pai mentioned. We know the worth and what the scholarships did and achieved and not achieved!
Today, our education must teach youngsters basic values, character and a sense of history and our place in the universe’s to say.
Any amount of education expansion won’t change the basic character of societies. In the UK youngster don’t want to study hard subjects, not many opt for doctors and PhDs! Yet, UK leads the world in many rare skills, arts and culture and literature and sports. But not India. We have just produced more engineers and doctors and they all migrate!
This is not the goal of Indian education. We need to universalise primary education first. Girls education is a high priority.
So, there is a democratic path. What was outlined by Mr.Pai, if one doesn’t take any offence, amounts to some authoritarian or a utilitarian view of education and much else!
This is not education or human resources! It is producing more robots, a robotical side of skills imparting.