If I were asked about the most important part of a nation, my answer would be education.
When I attended the Lead India 2020 initiative programme in Hyderabad where A.P.J Abdul Kalam addressed the students from various schools, I could see what he envisioned. I fully agree that the future of our nation is in the hands of the younger generations and education is the concrete upon which we can develop our country.
The 11th plan lays more emphasis on education with almost one fifth of the budget allocated to it. In the coming years this percentage can increase seeing as India is doing its level best to invest in intellect.
Before discussing the positive curve, education in India has its share of voids and cracks.
- Indian universities, unfortunately, are found in the heart of cut throat politics, a position they should not be in.
- India is the second largest producer of engineers per annum in the world. This accomplishment may seem staggering but the underlying explanation takes away its shine. For example, in the state of Andhra Pradesh the number of engineering colleges far exceeds the number of applicants writing the engineering entrance exam (EAMCET). This example clearly shows the boom in the engineering sector in India. However, unfortunately importance is given to quantity not quality. In years to come I can easily see India on a fast track to the number one spot in engineer production, the situation barely changing.
- IITs are slightly malnourished in terms of innovation since the inception of educational institutes such as Narayana and Sri Chaitanya where scores are more important than originality or innovative thinking. I have briefly attended such institutes and can speak from personal experience.
These flaws have the potential ability to corrode the educational system in the future and are difficult to eradicate but will most definitely be nullified by the educational advancements yet to be made like:
- Private schools surged in the 1990’s to relieve the pressure faced by the public schools in catering to educational demand. It has been seen that performance in private schools is beyond that of public schools. Now, private schools are not necessarily meant for the well endowed. A brilliant concept of branded chains of $2 schools have been launched called Sparks School in a Box which are owned and operated by entrepreneurs. They serve the dual purpose of providing quality and low cost education to the poorer sections of society and furthering the shift of students to private schools. If successful, then such schools can be established across the country and provide a step forward for the less privileged in the next decade.
- On June 25th, 2013 at the India- US Higher Education Dialogue the two countries agreed to further strengthen their cooperation for higher education. It has been said that India will embark on a venture to start community colleges in the near future, borrowing the concept from the US’ experience with such colleges. This is a significant step forward and also is beneficial in terms of international relations.
- Since 2009 it has been in the talks to set up foreign universities in India and slowly it is possible that foreign universities can take a baby step by establishing partnerships with existing Indian institutions. Once this has been done, foreign institutes can then prepare to set up their own branch campuses. This endeavour can open the gate to true international schooling right here in the country, saving students the trip abroad.
It has been observed that many students study abroad but if India can continue to progress, this trend can visibly decline in the coming decade. Once our educational standards improve this will automatically have a positive effect on our Human Development Index (HDI) which can help transform India from a newly industrialised country (NIC) into a developed nation. I sincerely believe Indian education has a great deal of potential.