More people are educated than before in India
What does that mean to our own lives and the country?
Will India become a more confident nation or will there be more timidity, given our history?
Education in India is spreading fast. There is almost universal awareness among the parents, educated and the not so well-educated, the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural populations that education is the single most important asset in any child’s future opportunities.
At the same time we see that education is also becoming competitive, more and more exam-oriented, more -private tuition-oriented. This makes learning more and more a mugging up exercise. Given the current fad with the computer games, most children are also drawn to the computer screen and the way the young grow up might give many thoughtful parents anxiety and concern. Does anyone is speaking about these concerns?
Also, there is now more sensitivity about the vast mass of people who won’t care for the niceties of education philosophy. Most go by the way the richer classes do. The coming of the RTE is an indication about the poor wanting to have the richer classes’ all fashions and privileges.
In a democracy such an egalitarianism is worthy of everyone’s approval. At the same time we read now and then the vast mass of children still out of school. One recent account put the number of children out of school at a staggering 60 odd lakhs.
That is why the issue of admissions to the L-KG and U-KG is the news that hit the headlines. Also, recently the other issues that have come to the front are the safety of children, the charges of alleged misbehavior towards the female children and also the safety of children in transpiration etc.
So, the new rules to fix the CCTV cameras and other restrictions on the fees have come up. So, we read there is now a lack of enthusiasm for opening more private schools. Many would be educators and social activists say they don’t want to get into the education services sector owing to the new problems in establishing and running the schools. Then, there is the medium of education. Mother tongue education is of course the most ideal one. But unfortunately, the social and political scene is such that you have to cater to the English medium education as that is the trend. Once the secondary schooling is getting over, comes the anxiety of the parents and students about admission to the colleges.
Also, there is now any number of competitive exams for which coaching is the only key. So, we find that the teachers as coaches are much in demand.
So too the next stage of admissions to IIT, foreign universities etc. So, there is a long travel schedule for the teacher in universities in UK and the USA and Australia, why even from Baltic countries which draw Indian students who are only too willing to pay for higher education. The only point that is not touched by anybody in education department is the status of our higher education. Indian higher education is now very lowly rated.
Also, Indian mindset is only too utilitarian, too much focused on careers. There is no vision of the long-term issues about the true good higher education system would have to be addressed.
India is very poor when it comes to research and innovation. Now, the buzz words are innovation, startups and related issues. Can the US Silicon Valley be of any reliance to India? Yes and no. Why?
Just now I read in the FT Weekend (15th August, 2015) the Italian-born American economist, Mariana Mazzucato, has put forward certain views on the current American high-tech trend, a trend that seems to be relevant to India. Ms. Massucato observes that in the USA much of the tech boom came along the Silicon Valley and the later developments, the craze for innovations and startup, first with the US public sector investments in certain advanced technologies. About the ‘mission-oriented’ growth strategy’s Mazzucato says:”One of the original Silicon Valley’s creativity was the Defence Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA),founded by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 following the alarm caused by Soviet Union’s launch of the Sputnik rocket. DARPA run by the US department of defence since then has pumped billions of dollars into cutting edge technologies. She points out also the fact that the much admired Apple iphone uses the clever technologies, geo-positioning system, the Siri voice recognition service and the multi-touch screen. The “clever stuff” inside the phone was the offspring of the state-funded research outcome. That’s fine.
Let us now listen to this clever economist who argues and I am sure her arguments would find favor in Indian minds too. The public sector research bodies must now take their roles seriously. As Ms. Mazzucato argues the private sector is over-rated and over-praised and over-valued.
And given the Indian mind-set and the high corruption that has come to taint our corporate image, we can’t take the private sector too seriously.
This is also very relevant for the planning of our higher education system and our universities reforms. It is here a true visionary; a genius is called for to reform the very education and future strategies for the country’s technological vision. We have already had our way. The IT revolution is much known Indian success story. Why not build on this momentum? Let all those who have a say come forward. Let the entire India see you all.