“We in India are smitten by our own education system based on degrees, and why shouldn’t it be, after all the jobs are based on our degrees.”
Introduction to Indian Education System
Education System in India was formulated after Independence; however it lacked the basic independence of developing on its own. Over the years, it has developed into a format of 10+2+3 plus everything you really wish to learn.
This means the initial schooling, primary, middle and secondary upto class tenth, although there is an unrecognized market of pre-schooing as well, followed by +2 level of Senior Secondary, where the real competition starts, supported by an equivalent parallel system of Coaching Centers (about which I had already Blogged), followed by the basic courses of Science, Commerce and Humanities at Graduation level or a student may opt for professional courses like engineering, medical or any other.
But even for most of the students that is not enough, so a pupil must pursue his Post Graduation too in the same field or an MBA etc. Can anyone of the previous generation imagine that most of the Universities these days are offering over 1500 courses!! That too when we have over 600 Universities!!
The Current Scenario: Issues and Challenges
Even after so much of Academics and a bundle of degrees, is the graduated student really aware of his subject? Is he/ she employable? Sadly the answer is NO.
Reasons: Our own education system and our love for it.
Now, let us identify the problems one by one and try finding ways to overcome them.
We are a society of middle class along with the poor who aspire to reach a middle class while the middle class simply wish to improve their standard of living. For all this a well settled job and regular salaries are needed. These jobs have basic criteria of educational degree and your performance in them.
As the Economics principal says “With demand emerges markets”, so over the past few decades numerous, so called English medium schools developed copying the best Convents. Ensuing that emerged the craze for Engineer and doctors, in the 70’s -80’s era. Though there were the elite IITs, MNR, AIIMS etc. but in the 90’s and beyond the best engineering/ medical colleges couldn’t cope up with the boom in population & aspirations thereof, so emerged the Private colleges. Though they were self-financing, the quality of education couldn’t match with the best ones.
But as aspirations kept on growing by leaps and bounds, the demand grew much more and by mid 2000s we could find a college or university in almost all the nooks and corners of the country. Further, it was a safe investment of the black money with good returns for the developers. They seldom had education as service in their mind rather it was a money minting business.
Though we had UGC governing the rules of universities and AICTE mandating the norms for technical courses, the corruption too grew along in these institutions. As these colleges were milch cows, even the disqualifications by UGC resulted in a new act being passed by a state assembly. I would not like to name the Universities here, but people in the industry know about them.
These mushroomed Private Universities are the ‘shops’ [I feel ashamed in terming them this being an academician] selling degrees. No Principals, Norms or Policies are followed except for maximization of profits, and in order to get clearance from government, money works, and they are abounded by that owing to their student strength.
These degrees apparently, are good enough, but the fact remains that they are the bought ones, where students haven’t competed enough to obtain them. The same kind of efforts (money) is put in their academic excellence too. Thus, though they have the degree, the qualification is lacking.
With such kinds of degrees available with almost every employment seeker, the companies try to get the best out of the worst. The others remain unemployed or rather unemployable. They study further, with the same kinds of colleges and the result is ultimately a dud.
Here I would talk about the higher education system, i.e. Graduation, Post-Graduation and PhD level only.
For the past two years, as we are witnessing the removal of colleges and universities and their courses if they do not meet the set criteria lay down by AICTE or UGC, the same should be continued and enforced strictly. This shall ensure the quality of education imparted.
Secondly, as the government has already tried to scrap the cash economy, all the accounts of these institutes should be electronically maintained along with strict surveillance. This shall avoid much corruption. If they won’t receive unaccounted cash they will not be able to bribe others.
Thirdly the examination pattern and the question papers should be provided by an external agency, which should be electronically transferred on the date of examinations to the respective centers, as we have in the online mode of distance education. This too shall reduce cheating on the parts of both the students and the institutes. Similarly, the final degree can be provided by the University only on qualification and recommendation of the examination agency.
The common entrance test like the AIEEE, CPMT etc. are a good step towards making the process more competitive. Such pre-qualification and post-qualification tests would make the education system more transparent.
Fifthly, the lecturers, Professors etc., are depicted to possess the qualifications, in order to get approval, but their qualifications should really be checked and verified by AICTE. The usual exam of Lectureship like NET qualification should be strictly enforced.
Finally just as we have the inspectors of schools, we should have inspectors of colleges, wherein senior academicians, professor’s team should conduct an annual inspection, which should be centrally monitored. The NAAC accreditation is a good step towards that but even here we need a lot of discipline and removal of malpractices.
The political will is all that we need, once that is in place, education seeker and provider will together enable a “Shining India”. -Vishal Saxena
The author is an Academician for over 16 years with much involvement in Higher Education System in India