With almost one-fourth of India’s population stepping into the age of attending school and college, the quality of their learning becomes an important factor. Right knowledge, skills and expertise are the key matrixes for maintaining our economic growth momentum, especially in a scenario of technology driven disruptions like Industry 4.0, where skills and expertise requirements are ever-changing. However, the current pandemic situation has already affected the education system to a great extent. The transition from offline mode to online mode of learning is something that all Indian households cannot afford. Many students dropped out of school and universities because at this adverse time gathering food became everyone’s priority over education. But when we talk about Indian education system, the lack of proper dissemination of learning has been a significant issue even before the pandemic.
There are various instances when multinational giants around the world recognized the problems of Indian education system which they felt deeply when the fresh recruits were put to work. The freshers had only theoretical knowledge and lacked in the practical application of the same. This pattern was observed over a period of time and highlighted the Indian education system drawbacks prominently. Infosys Technologies, India’s one of the biggest software services exporter, trains more than 30,000 students it recruits from top engineering colleges every year. Its training campus in Mysore, can potentially house approximately 15,000 students. New recruits invest up to 6 months honing the required skills as Infosys tries to bridge the gap left by inadequate university education. According to Goldman Sachs, the problems of Indian education system is one of the 10 factors holding India back from rapid economic growth. Analysts anticipates that it raises costs, including salaries as firms vie for the best IT recruits, and reduces the firm’s competitive edge.
As stated by Srikantan Moorthy, head of education and research at Infosys, “Ideally, education should happen in colleges, it should not be happening on company campuses. But a gap does exist, and we can’t wait for the government to put in place an education system that addresses our needs”. Infosys’s Campus Connect programme in 430 colleges is aimed at making “industry ready” recruitments. There is a growing demand for restructuring India’s education system, which focuses on learning by rote. The calls for reforms include opening up primary and secondary education to private investment, easier entry of foreign universities seeking to establish campuses in India and better monitoring and evaluation systems.
Infosys spent $175 million on training and education in the year of March 2009, at a time when an economic downturn crimped margins. On the other hand Tata Consultancy Services has a faculty development programme in 150 engineering colleges in India, while Azim Premji, Wipro founder has set aside some of his personal wealth for primary education and Anil Agarwal, chief of Vedanta Resources, has committed $1 billion to a university. As a part of social responsibility India’s Tata Group and Aditya Birla Group set up colleges years ago to generate industry ready candidates. However, multinationals such as SAP, IBM and Cisco are continuously involved in designing curriculum and training faculty to satisfy their demands. “The talent gap is compromising their growth big time,” said Janmejaya Sinha, managing director of Boston Consulting Group (BCG) “It is one of the biggest operational risks they face.” Let us look deep into the problems of Indian education system:
Quality of teaching and research
If we look solely at academic reputation as well as the faculty student ratio, we are able to see exactly where most of the colleges in India stand. Academic recognition as discussed in the QS ranking relies on research and teaching. Research and teaching in any educational institute depends upon the quality of faculty along with the quality of pupils. For teachers to impart expertise to pupils they should have an extensive knowledge of the subject matter, educational standards and the curriculum in addition to enthusiasm and an urge for understanding throughout the tenure of their career.They must have a desire to take feedback from students and other sources about the impact of their teaching and how it can be further improved. There are a huge number of universities in India, but hardly 20 to 30 universities are considered to have faculty of high standing. According to the National Education Policy Draft Report by TSR Subramanian, the “quality of many universities and colleges and the standard of education they provide are far from satisfactory”. An estimated 40% of university educators work on an ad hoc basis and are designated as temporary, contractual, non-permanent and guest faculty. This is a serious issue as teachers with a good academic record do not wish to take such positions as these roles are not as secure as the permanent one.
Pressure to publish
It is often seen in many universities that faculties are pushed consistently for publishing their papers in journals. This leads to the publishing of papers in not so well recognized journals. But this continuous pressure keeps the faculties more involved in their project for promotions thereby compromising in the teaching efficiency. Nevertheless, apart from the top tier higher education institutions like IITs, AIIMs and IIMs, many colleges and universities don’t have basic research facilities. The majority of the central and state colleges are claimed to be autonomous, but government intervention is prevalent in monitoring their functioning. Leadership Next comes the appointment of vice-chancellors who are supposed to provide academic leadership as well as administrative inputs. But then a judgments passed at the Madras High Court stated: “The heads of universities and the most visible symbols of the university system are these days appointed not because they are distinguished academicians, but because they have the right political connections in the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the case of central universities, or appropriate political or caste affiliations in the concerned state – in many cases, they pay huge amounts of money with rates varying from one crore to three crore in some states.”
Quality of student intake Another significant factor which impacts quality education is the quality and degree of students admitted to universities. India’s undergraduates are basically students that have graduated from higher secondary level schools. Students in India often opt for streams that are decided by their parents. This causes two types of behaviors in students. Some work hard and get employed in the field their parents picked for them. The rest lose interest in studies and struggle to keep up. This leads to lots of failure and disappointments. Even if these students make it through college, they are mediocre at best in their fields or take several years to become good in their line-of-work. As far as the former group is concerned, while they perform well as students and in their early careers, they feel burned-out in their jobs. If given the opportunity/financial security, they readily switch to other careers paths, even if they are vastly different from their past job experience. Ways to tackle the problems of Indian education system:
Reduce Rote Learning
The Indian education system emphasizes more on theoretical approach. This leads to mugging up topic after topic without understanding its practical application. Rote learning is still prevalent and this affects the learning process. The colleges and universities must be encouraged to introduce conceptual learning which avoids students to rote what they are being taught. This approach will help students to understand and retain the concepts better.
In India marks scored in exams play a crucial role in deciding the future of children and this often comes down upon students as a burdening factor. The pressure of obtaining good marks often makes students underperform. Instead of focusing on the evaluation of a 3 hours exam, the focus of evaluation should be concentrated on classroom participation, projects, communication and leadership skills and extracurricular activities. Only then will the students be motivated and give their best and be evaluated at their best.
Not only is our teaching method inefficient but so are our educators. Colleges and universities should take measures in up-skilling their faculty members with latest methods of teaching as well as adapting them to the agile e-learning teaching. Online mode of learning is a creative learning process, but only with a combination of an efficient educator. If we can combine a good educator with a great learning methodology then we can reap wonders out of it.