Education — The past glory of excellence, the downfall, and an attempt to rise again — Through NEP — May be!

Excellence in education is all about the teacher, the student and the institution — never about the medium. Knowledge is power. The Indian education system focuses on information rather than knowledge, and certainly not on wisdom. Knowledge sets us free. Knowledge makes self-esteem grow! Makes you command respect! It makes you self-reliant.

The glory of Indian education!

A closer look at the pros and cons of the education system of India will reveal one startling fact. That despite all challenges, it continues to flourish and churn out some of the exceptional brains of the world.

The education system in India is the only example in the world for reservation of seats at schools, colleges, and universities. The system dates back to 1902 when social reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy found that Indians from certain castes did not have access to education.

Some of The best brains in the world

From Aryabhatta to Bhaskaracharya to Sir CV Raman to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, India is home to some of the best brilliant minds in world history.

It is home to

・36% of scientists of NASA

・36% of employee of Microsoft

・38% of the medical doctors in USA

・28% of employee of IBM

・10% of programmers all of the world

Are Indians

Nearly a million scientists and engineers of Indian origin reside in the US alone.

The World’s first University was established in Takshila, India, in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.

The higher education system is the backbone of any developing country. The human resource is trained in the universities. India had a very rich history of nurturing mankind through holistic education. Our ancient universities not only provided education for living but also for enlightenment.

Yes, Glory to India

· The ancient Indian astronomers had tabulated the movement and positions of the sun, planets and the stars in space without the gadgets available to the current generation and long before Isaac Newton came up with the theory of gravity.

· The Number system was invented by India — Aryabhatta invented the digit zero.

· Sushruta is the father of surgery

· Sanskrit, the first and the oldest language in the World, originated from India

· The Art of Meditation and Yoga originated from India.

· Martial Arts (karate and Judo) originated from India, not China

· Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus are studies which originated in India

· The World’s first University was established in Takshila, India, in 700BC.

· Bhaskaracharya was the first to calculate the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun accurately in the 5th century — Time taken by earth to orbit the sun — 365.258756484 days. It stands undisputed even today!

· Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2500 years ago. Today Ayurveda is fast regaining its rightful place in our civilization.

The down fall!

Education without values will only make you a clever Devil! The Indian education system has become a functioning anarchy!

  • Macaulay minutes refer to his proposal of education for the Indians.
  • English education should be imparted in place of traditional Indian learning
  • He believed in education a few upper and middle-class students.
  • In the course of time, education would trickle down to the masses. This was called the infiltration theory.
  • He wished to create a class of Indians who were Indian in colour and blood but English in taste and affiliation.

The British failed to create a genuinely national educational system. They were interested in producing clerks to manage their administration. It is a sad that we are still blindly following the colonial system of education. The down fall of education till recently is attributed to

· Wrong people owning education — landlords, business tycoons, real-estate moguls, politicians, and liquor manufacturers etc. own — Colleges and educational institutions- Principals and teachers are powerless.

· Wrong priorities :Rote learning and industry disconnection

· Wrong grading process- marking system is a joke. Everyone gets very high marks and more than a few even perfect scores

· Broken government schools

· Wrong Society needs: degrees for marriages in addition to jobs, for prestige and for dowry. Skills are no one’s concern.

· And doctorates? You have to meet some of these newly minted “doctors” and have a 10 min rigorous discussion with them to realize why India has educated illiterates!

· Lack of an updated curriculum,

· The unregulated opening of technical institutions,

· non-existent linkages with industry and

· poor student-faculty ratio

The global ranking of present day Indian universities is quite disappointing. One of the possible reasons for this is that we are still following theory-based education and traditional rote learning in classrooms.

To rise again!

Over the last two decades, India has remarkably transformed its higher education landscape. It has created widespread access to low-cost and not a high-quality university education for students of all levels. As a result, today, India’s 70 million student population is a force to reckon with.

Are we a great nation?

Being a great nation is not about having the largest land area, the largest economy or the mightiest military power. A small country like Israel can be a great nation. Singapore may be a great nation! Japan may be great nation!

India may not be as yet the greatest country in the world.

We are 2nd in population, 131st in Human Development, 168th in literacy, 134th in Global Youth development, 41st in Competitiveness, 66th in Quality of life, 123rd in Economic Freedom, 122 in per capita GDP, 66th in global innovation, 122nd in Happiness and Number One in the world for searching — “How to get a visa for USA”!

We are morally corrupt, self-centered, treat our nation as a large dust bin and we like the rule of law only if it gets applied on ‘others’. Many of us subscribe to the view that a thief is a thief only if he is caught! One may continue to steal but remains honorable till he is caught!

Presently our university education system is contributing 3 million graduates and post graduates every year. Students seeking employment after completion of 10th class and 10+2 are around 7 million per year. Thus nearly 10 million youth are injected into the employment market every year. At present India has six hundred and forty million youth under the age of 25 yrs.

Our education system is losing relevance

Children who should be in school aren’t; for those who are, their schools often lack the resources to provide adequate instruction. The education system is built with a focus on IQ, memorization and rote learning. The current education system is showing its age. Founded at a time when industries needed workers with a relatively fixed set of skills and knowledge, it is losing its relevance in an era of innovation, disruption and constant change, where adaptability and learning agility are most needed.

Worthless degrees and unemployable graduates: The whole education system has been commercialized where the buyers purchase the ‘education’ for a price. Education has become a business. Merit is not hereditary. It is not caste based! It is not any body’s property. It can be acquired!

Current Issues in Education in India

· Under funding of education- only 4% of GDP9- effective spending comes to only around 2%, is spent on education as against recommended 6%.

· GER of only 25% — absence of critical mass of academic quality

· Lack of Infrastructure facilities

· Lack of PPP models that create innovative models that work

· Teacher shortage and teacher absenteeism

· Poor Accreditation issues

· Absence of innovations in curricula design

· Quality of education is compromised at every stage

Higher Education is highly politicized and has become the symbol of political patronage and clout.

General education itself has become so profitable a business that quality has lost in the increase of quantity of institutions. Politicization is adding fuel to the fire of spoil system. Paradoxically there is a strong feeling that it is better to have only 50 top world class universities rather than graduate factories!

Some of the major problems currently faced by the higher education system in India include:

· a severely fragmented higher educational ecosystem;

· less or no emphasis on the development of cognitive skills and learning outcomes;

· a rigid separation of disciplines,

· limited teacher and institutional autonomy;

· inadequate mechanisms progression of faculty and institutional leaders;

· Poor or no emphasis on research at most universities and colleges,

· lack of competitive peer-reviewed research funding across disciplines;

· an ineffective regulatory system; and

· Large affiliating universities resulting in low standards of undergraduate education.

Current Policy: Some education is better than No education!

In terms of quantity the expansion of higher education has been impressive. In 1947 we had about 20 universities and fewer than 500 colleges in the whole country.

In 2014–15 there were 760 universities and more than 38,000 colleges, catering to about 34 million students. But the expansion in quantity has often been at the expense of quality.

Currently there are around 1005 Universities- we need some 2000, controlling somewhere 45000 colleges, we need a million of them.

There is massification of education at the cost of quality!

The marked deterioration in standards of teaching and conduct of examinations is a matter of great concern. We are producing a large number of mere pass outs not even employable in India.

Universities who got accredited by the NAAC- only 32 per cent could get ‘A’ grade while another 52 per cent of them could manage with ‘B’ grade. The remaining 16 per cent fall in ’c’ grade. NAAC assessment further indicates that 68% of colleges are rated as ‘B’ while another 23% colleges are rated as ‘C’ grade; and only the remaining 9% are ‘A’ grade. This reflects the quality in higher education.

The Universities are required to revise the syllabi every three years. Many don’t revise their curriculum even once in five years. The revision could be brought about in consultation with the industrial captains. There is need for a constant dialogue between the chairmen of Board of studies, Deans of faculties, the Registrars, the Vice Chancellors of the Universities on one side and the industry, corporate houses and appointment or HR boards of various agencies.

What is missing?

Soft skills, emotional intelligence, teamwork, critical thinking, problem-solving are some of the skills missing among new graduates rendering them “unemployable”. Un-employability is a bigger menace than unemployment!

Another crucial step will be to revolutionize the classroom and make education learner-centric. The process can be made engaging through micro-learning modules and also by providing curated, personalized and relevant content to learners. Additionally, classroom training at higher education levels can be credit-based with options to choose from a combination of subjects rather than the traditional approach of choosing a single field of study.

NEP may be the Way forward!

Over the next five years four out of ten Indians will be in the age group of 18–22, the ages that need education and employment. With 119 million young Indians, the current education system will be inadequate. Sustaining education standards and employability will become a challenge. Degrees seem to matter more than skills. This has led to low employability.

Measures to be taken!

· Ensure technology adoption in tier1, II and III cities.

· Focus on skill development

· Ensure adequate academic-industry engagement,

· Ensure Quality education which is the cornerstone of excellence

· encourage adequate research and scholarly excellence

· Provide Education to everyone, anywhere and anytime!

· Provide unlimited teaching and learning opportunities.

Technology can help. Today, India is one of the fastest-growing online education markets and over the next two years, should touch USD 1.96 billion. Internet usage in India seems to be driven by rural internet growth and usage is touching 566 million people. This could be the best outreach for learning anywhere, anytime.

Investing in research could perhaps be the smartest way forward for India. With more research brains and skills, better knowledge repositories, the education system will have added assets in every generation. For every institution, research could be the strongest strand of its DNA. These scholars can take the quality levels to international levels, driving the education sector forward.

The recent decision of some engineering colleges to offer courses in regional languages in select branches from the new academic year marks a historic blunder in the academic landscape of the country on which rests the future of succeeding generations.

China has moved far ahead of India in terms of number of world-class institutions, gross enrolment ratios in higher education and research output. India’s record has been less than exemplary even as other developing nations have raced ahead of India in nurturing academic talent, and in promoting research. China’s performance in this regard has been the most extraordinary.

· India lags China in terms of research impact.

· India lags China in terms of educational institutes in world top 500

· India lags china in gross enrolment in Higher education.

· India lags china in spending on research and development

Vibrant democracies such as India, where ‘education’ is on the Concurrent List of the Constitution, require deliberations, debates and discussions at all levels of the government and regulatory architecture, and among different types of higher education institutions to go forward.

Former director of Sri Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, Former VC of Bangalore University and former chairman of the Karnataka State Health Commission