Prime Minister’s concern about the declining quality of education in India is worth giving a relook. He rightly noticed that the Indian Universities have failed to make up to the list of world’s top educations institutions. He has talked about the lack of inter-disciplinary researched, shortage of faculty, growing demand of education with expanding economy and population.
India has been neglecting heath and education sector for a long time. We have very low budgetary allocation for both the sectors. Our budgetary allocation for education in 2013 budget stood at: Rs. 65, 000 crore. Out of which, the flagship scheme Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) was allocated Rs.27,258 crore (aimed at implementing the Right to Education Act that promises education to all children in the 6-14 age group).
Amartya Sen is of the view that heath an education do not only help in improving the human capital that goes on to support the economic growth but the two actually lies at the very heart of the development goals of a State. There is a complementarity here. If people won’t be healthy and educated all other developments will become soulless and unsustainable.
We have talked about increasing literacy percentage in India but it should be noted that the definition of literacy had been 'both ability to read and write in any language’ as per Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI. Several studies have shown that students in class five find it difficult to add or subtract four digit numbers. The mid-day meal scheme has been instrumental in improving the enrolment figures but quality of education imparted is still a question mark. Then there is a problem of shortage or absentee teachers. Without a holistic scheme on education that includes training teachers and incentivising the occupation of teaching by raising salaries, we cannot hope for achieving the right ends.
Corporate investment under Corporate Social Responsibility in raising educational incubators can improve the educational facilities in higher education.
Education and Skill Development and the 12th Five Year Plan
The 12th five year plan identifies the concern that a fifth grade student finds difficulty in reading a second grade text at many places. It calls for decentralization of recruitment process of the teachers so as to address the problem of accountability in teacher selection process. There are half-million vacancies of teachers in India. For the successful implementation of RTE, 2009, teacher recruitment becomes the first priority. 0.6 Million teachers in public schools are untrained.
The National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education, 2009 calls for a shift to four year teacher training programme. To access the grade competency and quality of teacher there should a grading system in place. The government can also consider training teacher under PPP model.
MDMS can draw private investments if the government comes up with certain tax exemption for private investors who are willing to invest in education. There is also a need of to converge the Central schemes such as MGNREGA with education schemes to as we can provide a holistic development to the poor. Web based monitoring of SSA and MDMS aimed at making the schemes more transparent can make the implementers more accountable to public.
Expansion of Secondary Education
Gross Enrolment Ration (GER) at the secondary school stage (classes IX-X) is currently around 60.0 % which is very low. The Rastriya Madhamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) was launched during the 11th five year plan with an aim of improving the enrolment and quality in secondary schools. The centrally funded Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodyalayas have done well so far. There is a need expanding their coverage. Right now there are 1,060 KVs and 576 NVs.
Vocational training should be aligned with school education. This will improve occupational mobility. The National Vocational Education Qualification Framework (NVEQF) is already in place.
Currently 18% of budget allocated for education is spent on higher education. It should be raised to 25 %. State Universities and their affiliated institutions provide for 90% of total enrolment and yet they suffer from severe fund constraints and poor governance.
Some reforms are underway. Educational tribunals for quick redressal of disputes, National Commission on Higher Education and Research (NCHER) to ensure more autonomy of the institution and entry of foreign education providers.
There is need of connecting the students with the society. The NSS and NCC need adequate boost. Our problems can be solved with our innovation and that can come with more engagement of the educational centers with the public.
In India the scientific and research community works in isolation and there is little contact with the students pursuing graduate courses. This has to be corrected. When the students will have more contact, they will aspire to go into research and it will help in improving the quality of research in the long run.
ICT and Distance Education:
Prasaar Bharti have been using the television platform for educational purposes. ISRO launched GSAT-3 (EDUSAT) in 2004. The satellite is totally meant for educational purposes. Many people or India who don’t have access of means, can get education through satellite. More investment in such endeavour coupled with improvement in technology can go a long way in educating more and more Indians.
There are three challenges involved in distant education:
1. Challenge of Language: India is a multi-lingual country and it is not possible to meet the needs of one and all without translating the study material in several languages.
2. Challenge of content: Being a vast nation, the content has to vary from place to place.
3. Challenge of Cost: India is still battling to provide for the basic needs of living such as food and shelter to a vast number of its people. The network devices are costly. Aakash tablets are still to come up with some glitches such as low battery backup, low capability etc.
With advancement of Information and Communication Technology, the next goal that India can eye upon can be spread of internet network and connecting more and more people with data so that they can teach themselves.
What is the mandate of UGC?
UGS is a statutory body, established in November 1956 by the GoI.
· Promoting and coordinating university education.
· Determining and maintaining standards of teaching, examination and research in universities.
· Framing regulations on minimum standards of education.
· Monitoring developments in the field of collegiate and university education; disbursing grants to the universities and colleges.
· Serving as a vital link between the Union and state governments and institutions of higher learning.
· Advising the Central and State governments on the measures necessary for improvement of university education.
What is AICTE?
The AICTE was constituted in 1945 as an advisory body in all matters relating to technical education.
AICTE is an Apex which has several functions, some of them being:
· Undertake survey in the various fields of technical education, collect data on all related matters and make forecast of the needed growth and development in technical education;
· Coordinate the development of the technical education in the country at all levels;
· Allocate and disburse out of the Fund of the Council such grants, on such terms and conditions as it may think fit to institutions.
· Promote innovations, research and development in established and new technologies, generation, adoption and adaptation of new technologies to meet development requirements and for over-all improvement of educational processes.
· Formulate schemes for promoting technical education for women, handicapped and weaker sections of the society
· Promote an effective link between technical education system and other relevant systems including research and development organizations, industry and the community.
· Evolve suitable performance appraisal systems for technical institutions and universities imparting technical education, incorporating norms and mechanisms for enforcing accountability;
· Formulate schemes for the initial and in service training of teachers and identify institutions or centers and set up new centers for offering staff development programmes including continuing education of teachers
· Lay down norms and standards for courses, curricula, physical and instructional facilities, staff pattern, staff qualifications, quality instructions, assessment and examinations.
· Fix norms and guidelines for charging tuition and other fees.
· Grant approval for starting new technical institutions and for introduction of new courses or programmes in consultation with the agencies concerned.
· Advise the Central Government in respect of grant of charter to any professional body or institution in the field of technical education conferring powers, rights and privileges on it for the promotion of such profession in its field including conduct of examinations and awarding of membership certificates.
· Lay down norms for granting autonomy to technical institutions.
· Take all necessary steps to prevent commercialization of technical education.
· Provide guidelines for admission of students to technical institutions and Universities imparting technical education.
· Inspect or cause to inspect any technical institutions.
· Withhold or discontinue grants in respect of courses, programmes to such technical institutions which fail to comply with the directions given by the Council within the stipulated period of time and take such other steps as may be necessary for ensuring compliance of the directions of Council;
What is the mandate and functions of NCERT?
(a) Research and development.
(b) In-service and pre-service training.
(c) Dissemination of research on school education in India.
• Develops curricula, instructional materials, teaching aids and learning resources;
• Organizes pre-service and in-service training of teachers, of teacher educators, and of other educational personnel;
• Conducts and promotes educational research related to pedagogical improvement;
• Disseminates improved pedagogical techniques, practices and research findings;
• Acts as a clearing house of ideas and information for all matters relating to school and teacher education.