Monday, July 12, 2010

The Future Of Education In India

How can we make educational systems adapt to address the needs of tomorrow?

How do we make it more inclusive, accessible & attract the right minds for the right disciplines?
The educational system in any country is both a social and economic necessity. However it is also a system that is not easy to change. The impact of any changes takes a long time to realize. The current economic growth, both at local and global levels, has created a huge demand for resources with various skills and capabilities. But the question remains - are we doing enough, are we doing the right things?

This question has two probable answers. One is a short term, and the other is long term.

Let's start with the short term answer.

The immediate tomorrow needs to sustain the economic growth that India has achieved in the past 3 years. For that, we need a highly skilled population- not only in terms of IT education, but also other disciplines( ranging from entrepreneurship to lawmakers, and doctors to salespeople ).While a huge number of people graduate from engineering, business or any other school every year, these masses lack in an "all round development " through the college years. When it comes to specific technical knowledge, Indian undergrads leave their western counterpart in the dust; however, they are not trained to have the "vision" per se to take India to the next level, or to think out of box in many cases. For such decisions, they rely on MBA certified managers or other leaders.

So I guess, a better balanced and kind of an all encompassing undergraduate academic tenure will assure that India continues its stupendous economic growth and can come up to speed with other nations at a faster rate, and stay there!

The long term answer definitely lies in increasing literacy in India. For any country to achieve sustained economic growth, the population has to be able to read and write and calculate!

The government school system of India is not the best in Asia (to say the least)

This is when the privatization of not for profit schools can come in. How many millions does an MNC spend in advertising???

What if that company, sets up a trust fund for an "x" amount of dollars, uses that money for setting up a school, and operating it? This charity work will not only ensure that the company gets media coverage, but will also work for the benefit of children who want to go to school, but have no economic means of doing so !

One plaguing issue that India has is that people want their children to work, and not go to school. Let’s look at one hypothetical situation to solve this problem.

Let’s say that the Ambanis decide to set up a plant in a village in Gujarat. The simultaneous opening of a huge school with the bare necessities (with the money that would have been otherwise spent in musical advertisements on all major TV channels) will ensure that they get a LOT of media coverage. The local laborers get employment, and their children (if any) get to go to school for free (this is of course assuming that the Ambanis want to put some money aside for philanthropy.)!

So, in a nutshell, for the long term improvement in education sector, the private firms , the big elephants must come together and devise a process that improves the quality of education at grass root levels in country, thereby improving their standing in the community, thereby improving their profits, thereby being able to spend more money on philanthropy, thereby creating a generation of well educated youngsters with smart brains, thereby being able to hire better Indians, thereby again improving their company profits !

Of course, neither of the two answers is as simple as I laid them out here, but the theory can work if further thought upon and then crystallized!

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