Why India Must Revamp its Education Sector If it Wants to Become a Global Powerhouse

The Stratification of the Indian Education Sector

For a country that prides itself on its rich history and civilization superiority, the present state of its Education Sector is nothing to feel proud about.

Indeed, barring for graduates from the prestigious IITs, IIMs, and other institutes at the top of the heap, the rest of the graduates from the many thousands of colleges and institutes apart from universities do not succeed in finding meaningful employment, if at all they find some employment.

The rising dropout rates at the Primary Level, the incidence of failures at the Secondary level, and the sheer fact of graduates at the Higher Education level being unemployable means that whatever money the government spends on the education sector is a waste of time and resources.

Of course, this does not mean that the entire Education sector is in a mess. As mentioned earlier, Indian graduates from the Top 100 Institutes are as capable (if not more) as anyone from premier universities worldwide and this can be seen in the way Indian professionals have made their mark in their chosen careers and have also risen to the top in global corporations.

The Problems of Unemployment and Unemployability

What this means is that like much of everything in India, there is a “yawning gap” between the quality of education at the higher end and the lower end.

This inequality and inequity between those who make it to the best institutes and the rest means that there is often a demand-supply mismatch wherein sometimes when there is demand for professionals, the supply does not measure up and vice versa, when there is an adequate pool of professionals, but there are no jobs for the taking.

This can be seen in the way in which Captains of Indian Industry routinely complain about the graduates being unemployable and at the same time, an advertisement for a few hundred government jobs often sees thousands and millions of applicants.

Thus, what this means is that the Indian Education sector must be revamped urgently and the specific focus of the Central and the State Governments must be on the Primary and Secondary education level and that too in the rural hinterland as well as in towns and cities targeting the institutes, colleges, and universities beyond the Top Layer.

Human Capital, Demographic Dividend, and Demographic Nightmare

There are compelling reasons for undertaking this revamp as economic development theory clearly states that there is a causal link between the quality of human resources and the economic growth of nations.

Indeed, the so-called Human Capital that economists such as Amartya Sen have mentioned refers to how nations with better trained engineers, doctors, and others succeeds by virtue of having a ready pool of workers and professionals who can then be sources of sustainable competitive advantage.

Moreover, there is much mention of the term Demographic Dividend as far as India is concerned wherein nearly half of its total population is under 30 years of age and hence, there is an easily absorbable labor pool that can deployed in case foreign and domestic firms setup their plants and factories.

However, lack of quality education means that the Demographic Dividend can become a Demographic Nightmare as millions of frustrated and unemployed youth can become cannon fodder for vested interests to use them for purposes that are not necessarily benign.

Further, with unemployment at a record high, we are already witnessing the chaos and the violence in the country where protests and riots for reservation, for jobs, and for basic educational and employment opportunities dominate the headlines.

The Case for Urgent Revamp of the Indian Education Sector

Therefore, the need of the hour for the Indian Government and at the state levels is to increase spending as well as regulate and monitor the sector closely.

While India does spend on the Education Sector, it lags behind other Asian and World economies and especially those that have made progress due to their Human Capital in terms of Per Capita and Percentage of GDP or Gross Domestic Product are concerned.

Apart from this, whatever is spent must also be tracked for fair and productive use rather than losing it to corruption and other forms of leakages.

Further, some experts have suggested cross subsidization of the institutes at the middle and the bottom layer by those at the top, though this is unlikely to be implemented. In addition, there are calls for corporatization of the sector which is already the case in some Southern States where the leading private colleges are run on corporate lines.

On the other hand, there are those who oppose the recent moves of the Central Government to make proposed institutes by corporate houses such as Reliance as deemed status which has met with vociferous protests. Thus, what this means is that there is a certain policy paralysis when it concerns the Indian Education sector where each stakeholder has a different view about how to revamp it.

Window of Opportunity

Lastly, India has already missed the Industrial Renaissance that South East Asian Tiger Economies did in the 1960s as well as the Subsequent Rise of China.

It can ill afford to lose out once more especially when the stakes in terms of the need for providing jobs and the basic income levels for its citizens are concerned.

Hence, the window of opportunity is closing again and this means that all stakeholders must come together to design and implement a revamp of the Indian Education Sector. To conclude, the citizens of tomorrow can easily become the wasted lives of the future with no prospects for education or employment.

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