Education Pollution: Substandard Schools, Decaying Higher Education, Mushrooming Coachings

There are nearly 1.2 lakh single-teacher schools in the country of which an overwhelming 89% are in rural areas. More than 30% of schools had no toilets and over 60% had no playground. The selection of the top positions of the institution has emerged as a great challenge. A research scholar who gets a UGC fellowship does not want to complete his Ph.D. work in time but tries to extend it since after his/her Ph.D. if he/she gets an appointment in a private institution, he /she will get less salary. The conditions of teachers in self-finance institutions are very pathetic. Mushrooming of coaching centres and dummy schools across all cities has misled students into believing that they can perform better in entrance exams if they go for coaching at such centres and by skipping classes in regular schools.

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Heading Towards Extinction of Formal Education?

The new trend of popularizing coaching institutions, over-dependence on digital technology, and reduced financial support to institutions of higher learning shall prove to be the death knell of our long cherished formal education. Are we giving free/subsidized education and scholarships to regular students just to enroll in the institution and join coaching classes? The ground reality is that in universities and colleges, we are teaching with the minimum number of teachers without students. The greatest threat to formal education is the recent trend of robbing universities of their academic autonomy. Policymakers have been acting as feudal lords to impose and further their agenda through higher education institutions. One of the turning points for the survival of formal education and universities could be to generate active value-based research.

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An Era of Dynamism in Higher Education

The HEIs must assess the changing requirements for programmes commensurate to the specially trained manpower requirements. The quick responsiveness of private sector HEIs in offering programmes as per market demand is facilitating good admissions to them. The regulatory framework must enable public universities to exercise their choices of being dynamic in conceiving and offering market-centric demand-driven programmes/courses. Nonetheless, the public sector HEIs must not get rid of their mandate to roll out well-trained and qualified graduates and postgraduates in all disciplines whether popular or not popular.

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Why do Indians Go Abroad for Higher Education?

Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Prime Minister of India has revived a concern that needs to be taken seriously and urgently. It is imperative for the higher education policy planners, administrators, and regulators to take proactive measures to ensure quality higher education at an affordable cost within the country across the broad spectrum of higher education, including but not limited to only medical education.

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Motivation for Higher Education

Higher education, for many, is an investment in hope for the future and it is incumbent upon the nation to ensure that it does not get turned into despair. Yet, higher education is generally confined to a minuscule proportion of the students mostly comprising the social and economic elites who have already accumulated enough resources. The mass of the highly educated talent pool that the country has is an invaluable resource that may be garnered as the demographic dividend, making it imperative to gainfully employ them to save ourselves from the onslaught of the demographic disaster.

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Withering Public Sector and Bourgeoning Private Sector in Higher Education

The blossoming of few private sector HEIs as evident from their good rankings and sizeable share among top ranking institutions establishes that self-financed institutions too can achieve excellence, provided there is a strong will. Flourishing private sector HEIs is a positive sign in overall higher education; nevertheless, the shrinking number of public sector HEIs in the top 100 ranks is concerning because of the inadequacy of quality output from the public sector HEIs established and run by taxpayers money.

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Internationalization of Indian Higher Education

Indian higher education is widely recognized and respected across the globe despite none of its higher education institutions being in the top 100 of World University Rankings. The paucity of suitable infrastructure and physical facilities along with the self-imposed rigidity in the processes of teaching, learning, admission, evaluation, etc. is responsible for discouraging the foreign operations by Indian universities. Given the international reputation of Indian higher education and the comparative cost advantage that they enjoy, it should not be difficult for universities and colleges to attract students from developing and less developed countries. This will require certain policy initiatives on the part of the government as well as at the end of individual universities and colleges. Fortunately, NEP 2020 supports and promotes the idea.

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Private Participation in Higher Education

Private Participation in Higher Education is imminent but may not be sufficient to promote Access, Equity, and Quality in Higher Education. It is reassuring that NEP 2020 recognises the public education system as the foundation of a vibrant democratic society, and the way it is run must be transformed and invigorated in order to achieve the highest levels of educational outcomes for the nation”. The policy also argues for “increased access, equity, and inclusion through a range of measures, including greater opportunities for outstanding public education”. It is now time to walk the talk.

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Self-Financed Private Universities: Implications on Affordable Quality Higher Education

Private higher education may have gained traction in the country since the mid-nineties, but it is as old as the history of modern higher education itself. ‘Private tendencies’ have also been penetrating deep into the ‘public higher education’. The situation urgently calls for minimally invasive ways and means of ensuring affordable access to quality higher education for all segments of the society

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In Defence of Higher Education

Higher education can, indeed, be censured for expanding rather too rapidly, but it was in response to the call of the industry and to alley their apprehension that the country shall not have enough graduates to match their requirements to sustain their growth momentum. If the jobs are still not in the offing for the graduates, it is because enough jobs are not being created to match the growth in higher education.

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