Education is perhaps the most prized possession of an individual. Swami Vivekananda had once said, ‘Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man’. Education makes a person realise his self-worth as well as etches out the human being in him. It makes him work for the well-being of his people, besides determining the progress within society.
The introduction of western learning made the Indians realise the exploitative nature of British rule and the suffering of their people. It brought the Indians closer and infused the sense of nationality in them. Education unites people, makes them understand one another, care about each other and think rationally. The British introduced English education to serve their own purpose of getting cheap labour. However, it transpired to be one of the contributing factors that paved the way for India’s unification as a nation. Simultaneously, it was instrumental to the Indians in realizing the true nature of foreign rule.
Since independence, the Indian government has acknowledged the need for higher education among Indian Youth to become an active participant in the country’s economic and scientific growth. Thus, the country has been increasing its number of higher educational institutes over the years. Although the country has produced some excellent educational centers across the country, still there are several issues faced by Higher Education in India.
India is a country with immense human capital where nearly 50 per cent of its population is under the age of twenty-five years. India needs to carefully and logically use this workforce to serve its economic purposes in the new millennium. However, greater transparency and accountability are required in the Indian Educational system to provide a proper skillset to emerging India to use these skills in the economic growth of the country.
The involvement of the private sector in the higher education system of India has led to India becoming the home of the most number of Higher educational Institutes in the world while becoming second highest in the number of student enrollment. The number of Universities has risen by more than 20 times than what it was in the 1950s. However, despite increasing its numbers so rapidly, India has failed to produce world-class universities with a good global ranking. There have been several reasons behind this failure.
Here in this article, we will analyse the critical issues and challenges pertaining to higher education in India and possible measures of overcoming them.
Issues and Challenges
Lack of eminent faculty
One of the foremost issues faced by the Educational Institutes in India is the lack of eminent faculty. The lack of eminent faculty is something that has haunted the country’s top educational institutes for a long. Even though there are qualified candidates, however, proper recruitment of teachers is not taking place. This has resulted in a lack of skilled teachers in the academic sphere. As a result, these brilliant minds are slowly drifting away to other areas resulting in a huge academic loss.
Although the number of higher educational institutes has grown in significant numbers over the last few decades, the percentage of students enrolling in higher education has gone down considerably. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education report 2018-19, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) of Higher Education in India is only 26.3 per cent. This percentage is quite low compared to other developed as well as developing countries. Ironically, this poor Gross Enrollment Ratio is also an indication of India Higher Education institutes being inadequate to meet the growing number of students across the country.
The IITs and IIMs, which are considered institutes of excellence in the country, serve only 0.5 per cent of the total students enrolled in colleges and universities. The lack of proper education has rendered the graduates from Indian colleges being proffered unemployable as they lack the proper skills required.
Lack of Innovation
Innovative teaching methods are very essential to make education interesting. Also, in areas of research and technological development, innovation is quite necessary. Thus, the teachers, while imparting knowledge to the students, must be innovative in their approach. However, the Indian institutes have been lacking by quite an extent in this category. The teachers have been using old techniques and standards which do not match the requirements of the 21st century at all. In the fields of research, the quest for knowledge is essential for growth. Indian institutes have the potential but lack the spirit of innovation in these areas leading to a decline in the research capabilities of our educational institutes.
Poor infrastructure and government apathy towards providing the institutes with necessary funding has contributed to the underdevelopment of the Higher education system in India. In addition to this, ill-equipped laboratories and libraries are a serious contributing factor towards the fall in the quality of Higher Educational institutes in India. Even the fellowship received by the researchers are often not adequate or on time, which subsequently hampers the quality of research. Moreover, poor infrastructure leads to students not having the hands-on experience to match industry standards. Consequently, this renders them unfit for employment in future.
Government apathy has been one of the major contributing factors in the degradation of the standard of Indian Universities. The Indian universities have faced the neglect of every government in power. Inadequate grants and failure to deploy standard faculties have been one of the main reasons behind this degradation. The Union government spends an exiguous 3-3.5 per cent of its annual budget on education, leaving a huge gap in the demand and supply curve across the country.
Increased Political interference
Political interference is often seen as one of the major drawbacks of Higher Education in India. For example, there are several instances where we can find the local MLAs or MPs being elected the Chairman of the Governing council of a College or University. These instances give rise to much interference in the functioning of the day-to-day activities in the educational institutes. These may range from holding political meetings inside the college campus to unnecessary interference from student groups affiliated to the political parties. In some instances, the college administrations are forced to bow down before the unjust demands from these student groups harming the process of education in the college or university. Additionally, political interference not only hinders in the day-to-day functioning of the college administration but also becomes a hamstring in the determination of the academic syllabuses and the process of evaluating the students of higher level. Consequently, this interference causes major harm to the eminence of the higher educational institutes of the country.
Lack of Proper Administration
Most colleges are governed either by governing councils or by a trust. These bodies often include people who do not have any link with academics. Often, these people go forward in the decision-making process of the higher educational institutes without being familiar with the academics. The government needs to acknowledge the fact that it is essential to leave academics in the hands of the academicians and not in the hands of politicians or bureaucrats who possess little or no knowledge about its functioning.
Lack of Multidisciplinary Approach
In the 21st century, a multi-disciplinary approach is essential in nurturing the skillset of the youth of this nation. The potential within the youth of this country must not be squandered. Therefore, students must be made familiar with a multi-disciplinary approach towards study. Multi-disciplinary engagements are the building blocks, where numerous, seemingly incoherent disciplines are taught to the cohort of students. It is the outcome of research across disciplines, which in turn builds on the state of the research ecosystem in a university. A multi-disciplinary approach in academics will help the students to be prepared and overcome any untoward challenges they face in their careers.
Overcoming the Challenges
Overcoming these major constraints is perhaps the most important task at hand. Innovative ideas and ways of learning can not only help in better understanding of a subject but also helps in its application in real life. Also, one of the major tasks at the hand of the government is to increase the budget allotted for higher education in India. Higher budget allocation can not only make the universities self-sufficient, but they will also be able to nurture talent through scholarships and various student training programmes. The Indian Universities must also engage in student exchange programmes with foreign universities. These student exchange programmes will give students an opportunity to showcase their talent in the international arena and bring back experience to put them into use for the benefit of this nation. Simultaneously, the government must stop interfering in the matters of academics, and leave it to the experts. Also, skill-oriented learning must be given special preference to engage the growing workforce of the country into productive work.
Still, a major portion of reputed higher educational institutes are located in towns and big cities. Therefore, even after completing their Higher Secondary education, the students of the rural areas from the village school are forced to go to the towns and cities for pursuing higher education. It often becomes troublesome as the expenses of living in a big city are much higher than in a small village. Consequently, students coming from lower economic backgrounds (especially girls) are often forced to give up their studies despite having fared well in the school board examinations. Hence, these discrepancies in the setting up of education institutes must be dealt with urgently. Additionally, higher educational institutes must be established in rural areas to increase enrollment rates, especially for girls.
The government must implement more and more vocational training courses for the rural community, including the SC/ST sections of the society and empower them with skills and training so that they can find a dignified job and lead a proper life. Moreover, one of the biggest drawbacks of the Indian Education system is that most of our graduates do not have the required skills for employment in the 21st century. Therefore, apart from imparting the traditional knowledge, the government must try to provide them with hands-on training in whatever course they choose so that they can use their experience when starting a new career for themselves.
The higher educational institutes of the country must come up with a new vision and innovation in addressing the issues concerned with the industry and the economy of the region within its vicinity and solve them for bolstering the economic growth. Hence, training must be provided to students based on those platforms that can help them solve the quandaries of their daily life and make a living out of it. This will not only encourage the pupils but will also create a ripple effect in the enrolment rate of higher education in India.
Last but not the least, proper faculty and training staff will help the students in developing the skill set for a better tomorrow. Recruitment of efficient teachers is essential to impart proper training to the human capital of the country. However, in India, one of the critical constraints remains the scanty salaries of teachers. A corporate guy in this country earns much higher than his/her counterparts with the same qualifications when it comes to teaching. Building up the future of this country is a herculean task that rests with the teachers. Hence, teachers and Professors must be provided with sufficient salary to encourage the bright minds into this noble profession. Just like the IAS, IPS and the IFoS, India should also have an integrated teaching service, where teachers with the proper qualification will be selected to impart training to the future generation.
Every individual contributes to the growth of the nation. However, this contribution must be channelised in a proper manner to extract the most out of it. Every individual has a different set of skills. It would be foolish to judge a fish by its ability to climb trees. We have committed this act for a long and thus, without any further delay, with India aiming to become an economic superpower by the 2030s, and with such a humongous human capital, we need to realise where we are channelising our energy. Once this is sorted, there will be no looking back for India.