There’s no dearth of truly world-class students in India, who are hardworking, intelligent and ambitious. Many of them excel in some of the most competitive exams in the world. However, all they get in return is the lack of adequate options available for them, or moreso, the lack of quality institutions for education.
Ever since independence, India has under-invested in the education sector at all levels. Although the country has been among the fastest-growing economies in the world in the last decade, low-quality or substandard education is crippling the overall holistic growth of India. Our country is unable to cope with the demands of a modern 21st-century economy, and it’s now high time that the government understands the role that public finances and infrastructure play in improving the quality of education in the country lest we find ourselves trapped in a sea of mediocrity down the line.
Increase Spending in the Education Sector – The Need of the Hour
Let’s explore how India can spend well in the education sector and what measures it can take at the earliest. Here’s my wish list:
Introduce a Massive Technology Infrastructure
The only way forward for us in today’s globalized competitive world is by embracing the internet and technology to reach out and educate our huge population, the majority of which is still living in remote rural areas. Setting up a massive technological infrastructure in place that provides easy access to knowledge can be a good first step to get a head-start. Why focus on outdated ideas of brick and mortar high-schools, colleges and universities? Our nation deserves some real and magnificent world-class institutions. Not only will it help in reaching out to the masses to disperse the fruits of education, but will also help a huge number of smart and talented people, who otherwise move to other countries due to the lack of top-level institutions here. Technology has tremendous potential to create new models of learning and to achieve results on a massive scale, thereby mobilising the huge demographic dividend which we have at our disposal and which can move ahead globally at an extremely fast pace. Technology is indeed the future of the education sector!
Invest in Government-run Schools
In India, everyone has a bad opinion about public or government-run schools. People simply rush to private schools and completely avoid the government-run schools due to the poor quality of education imparted there. However, the real irony is that people absolutely love to send their children to government-run institutes of higher education like the IITs and NITs. Thus, it only depicts the lack of interest shown by the government towards primary education. If the government decides to allocate money, time and resources towards all sections in the public education system, parents will definitely consider enrolling their children in it. This idea will also tremendously benefit the underprivileged sections of the society to be on par with the rest of the kids in private schools.
Human Capital Development
The number and quality of teaching staff is one of the critical indicators of the standards of education in a country. Being the second most populous country in the world, India requires at least an adequate number of teachers at all levels for imparting high-quality education. And it is equally imperative to attract the brightest brains into the teaching profession so that the children receive nothing but the best. Unfortunately, teacher’s salaries provide little motivation to attract the brightest minds out there. Also, a the bar needs to be high for faculty recruitment, which can eventually dissolve the rote-learning system in place and will definitely help to encourage and nurture some of the natural talents that students have. Timely faculty training and competitive salary structures are key to improving the overall quality of education.
Quality Education in Rural Areas
We simply cannot talk about government expenditure for the education sector in urban cities and discount the biggest chunk of students – the majority of students still live in rural areas. The rural and remote areas in India need a rigorous checkup in this regard, as children are still struggling to receive even basic education. Teachers posted in rural schools and colleges are often even more underpaid than in cities, which makes students suffer due to the lack of interest shown by teachers. Also, most of the schools lack the infrastructure required and don’t have adequate teaching facilities, playgrounds, proper classrooms or even basic facilities like hygienic toilets.
Partnering with NGOs
Many NGOs like Teach for India and Make a Difference are spearheading education initiatives by partnering with government schools and orphanages. These organisations are recruiting the brightest minds to help train the future work-force of India. Teachers at these NGOs range from exceptionally talented school students to IIT graduates and aspiring MBA students. This is one of the ways to expose young children to solid role models they can learn from and with whom they can forge lifelong friendships.
Today, the biggest obstruction which remains in this sector is the presence of a substandard education system at the grassroots. Moreover, there is no silver bullet in our arsenal, which can introduce the required changes, instantly. Our country urgently requires an initiation of several key reforms in the education sector, and should invest money wisely to tackle this crisis.
India has the brainpower. It’s for our government to decide whether it wants this talent to waste or migrate elsewhere, or rather utilise it for a better economy, society and, most importantly, for the development of and a bright future for India.