Lack of direction, lack of leadership!
This generation’s education is changing!
It is a challenging task also!
Education debate in the country is still narrow. Narrow focused. It is all about everyone getting educated. There is a new awareness across all classes and all communities that an education, in the English medium is the best hope for the future. So, languages, the medium of education consumes so much of the time of everybody, from parents to the politicians.
The very fast changes in economy, urbanisation, peoples movement from rural to urban areas and the rising standard of living are all giving Indians a sense of new hope for their future of their kids.
Now, as per the statistics, unfortunately, the government doesn’t provide very many statistics, about the still of school children, the status of the girl child etc makes one to express one’s views and opinions in a disinterested way.
But there are certain trends.
There is almost a sense of universalisation of elementary education. This is good. The Sarva Shiksha Abinayan is by far the best thing that has happened to Indian education. We have to build on this foundation. There is also widely a great awareness of the mid-day meals scheme. This is also an innovation from India. As per the latest report from the Registrar General of India, the infant mortality rate for the current year is seen declining. This is perhaps the best news.
India is a new country, now very much active in the international front and there is a great deal of migration, the globalisation has seen to this, and as a result the Indian students now entering into colleges is also growing.
But there are certain limitations and let us know this reality.
The proportion of students who pass the final year at the high schools is limited. The universalisation of college education is still some time away.
The current policy as stated by the education minister is far from being fulfilled, it seems.
The brave talk indulged by many, from Sam Pitroda to HRD minister to the PM, about establishing new universities, about raising the proportion of students into higher education is also being slowed down.
There is a general decline in governing in the country. One significant pointer to this observation is the fact the PM didn’t appoint a new minister for telecom and handed over this charge to Mr.Kapil Sibal. And see what a mess he created. He is more a lawyer than a politician. So, he messed up the telecom debate and there is now a big question mark what Mr.Sibal do next. The Supreme Court asked him to “behave with a sense of responsibility!”In any other time, in any other democracy such a remark from the highest court would have seen the minister to resign! But not in this country! If such a minister presides over the education ministry, what sort of motivation the people would have to take his other views seriously?
That is why we have to note and say certain unpleasant things about our education goals, our empty political rhetoric on our claims and what is the reality at the ground level.
Our education suffers now for lack of direction and leadership. We see the other face of Indian education. Heavy commercialisation and unbridled corruption! The operation of commercial-minded education businessmen and the small-time school promoters and now the entry of the unscrupulous educators from the dubious sectors of businessmen, very many uneducated small-time men, to establish and run engineering and even MBA courses had deteriorated our general standards in education.
Now, there is some news from some states to raise the standards of higher education and to open new universities and introduce new post-graduate courses. For instance, in Karnataka there are moves to split the unwieldy universities, like Bangalore University and establish new campuses is welcome.
The one hundred and fifty year old Central College in the central part of Bangalore city is to be raised to world Class University. This would be a unitary university; the post-graduate courses would be concentrated on core subjects. Very much like the old-time Kolkata-based Presidency College which produced Nobel Prize winners and other international personalities even under the British regime.
It was a handiwork of Lord Curzon who brought about the university reform in 1903.Almost simultaneously, the Mysore-based Maharaja College and the Chennai based Presidency College saw such flowering of intellectual calibre.
Even now, the practical and pragmatic approach to raise standards in our higher education is to upgrade the old colleges, almost in every major city or town there are one or two such colleges, from Agra to say Mangalore and in many other cities. These old colleges must be upgraded into universities and properly funded and post graduate courses must be introduced.
Recently, we saw some new innovative debates on the TV channels. The participants included persons of merit and achievements like Dr.Devi Shetty of Narayan Hirudalaya, Bangalore, Dr.Swathi Piramal of Piramal industries and Kiron Majumdar of Biocon.
These are very successful people and they are specialists in their respective spheres. Dr.Shetty in medical education and spread of healthcare and deployment of telemedicine. Dr.Piramal is a drug discoverer and head a highly respected R& D centre in her company. What she said in the TV debate was insightful.
Unless you invest in R&D, the country can never become a leader in R&D. India will be dependent upon other countries for precious discoveries in vital drugs. Said she:”WE produced the low cost Nano car and India emerged as the world leader in small car designing. Likewise, India must emerge leader in several such “firsts”. Now we are still a country where the big corproates are all after quick profits.
And unfortunately now, they are found to be small-time crooks too. The corporate lobbying in the telecom license cases showed India in poor light. Our corporates were found wanting in basic ethics even in doing routine business. Such an image is very demoralising.
From such a country what sort of education would be forthcoming?
Education even in the advanced countries is basically a service, high-minded service. That is why the traditional universities of Europe, like Sorbonne, Heidelberg and other such old universities command much respect. Brand value, in the new language!
So too the respect for liberal education. In humanities and social sciences.
University education in India today is in shambles. If you come to Tamil Nadu, high corruption is the by word! The appointment of the Vice-Chancellors is a big scandal. The performance of the poorly selected candidates might make for hilarious crime novels! Such is the tragedy that has been fallen on the Indian universities today.
Now comes the news of entry of some new corporates like HDFC into education sector. So too the entry of venture funds, foreign funds into the education sector!
These are all not a happy trend!
The motive behind the ventures if profits, quick profits.
What is the competency of such franchise-based education? Not noble aims but bad thoughts in such a sensitive sector.
Unfortunately, there is no open criticism of such high commercialisation of education from any of the top policy makers.
So, education as, we now find out from the one dubious private US university where hundreds of Indian students are found to be illegal migrants and the US government in a foolish manner had ordered Indian students to wear radio collar for indentify!
So, the US, the American policy makers are worse than the Indian ones!
Education is a national identity for any people.
So, Indian education, its value basis, must be Indian identity, Indian values, Indian culture and Indian belief systems.
We may not be able to educate all our children in the near future. But we must aspire for such a goal. Democratisation of education opportunities must be our goal. But at the same time, class education, elite education, high quality education should not also be overlooked.
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