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Higher education in India - The challenges

India must revamp its higher education infrastructure if it has to emerge as a knowledge superpower in real sense.

By PPFI Team

November 17, 2008

India aims to emerge as a knowledge superpower in the world. The goal is still far away even though it has made giant strides in the Information Technology (IT) sector. It has emerged as an attractive outsourcing destination for knowledge-based goods and services in the world but the skill-shortage and non-availability of quality manpower still remain a challenge. All the regulatory systems have failed to maintain standards in higher education. The expansion of education system has largely been chaotic and unplanned and has mostly taken place in the realm of private sector and the quality of education provided by them has always remained questionable.  

The reasons for the current situation are manifold. First of all is the non-existence of uniformity in curriculum and also a common examination system. Secondly, the curriculum largely focuses on the theoretical aspects of a subject instead of equipping the students with sound practical knowledge. There is also a lack of required funds to create and maintain the infrastructure required to impart quality education. Due to the market forces taking away most of the talented graduates every year, there is an increasing gap between the demand and supply for quality teaching staff and research professionals.

To meet these challenges, use of Information Technology should be promoted in higher education so that institutions can build on and share their existing resources. For example, classes can be held via video-conferencing so that more number of students, located in different places, can participate in it. The government should undertake strict performance evaluation of the institutions, particularly those run by private sector bodies and periodically review the accreditation of these institutions. Above all, in order to meet these challenges, the government of India must increase the outlay on education from its present levels of around 4 per cent of the GDP to 6 per cent. This will go a long way in improving the present infrastructure and creating new infrastructure in higher education to meet the growing demand.

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