Friday, March 30, 2007

India is a country of 1.2 billion people.This, on paper, looks like quite a disconcerting statistic. However, the fact that 60% of its population is between 18-30 is a fact which brings cheer. This means that by the year 2040 we will be way ahead of china if the productive age group i.e., 24-58 is taken into account. The usage of word "productive", however, may turn out to be a misnomer because, in reality, education remains a mirage for most indians. Taking cognizance of this fact, the finance minister of india, mr.p.chidambaram, has allocated 6% of the GDP for education in the budget for fiscal year 2007-08.

The National Knowledge Commission-headed by sam pitroda- is a high-level advisory body to the Prime Minister of India. Its view about school educations is as follows : " It is imperative to provide education to children from all back grounds in order to prepare India for the 21st Century and to ensure that all sections of society can meaningfully participate in the development process." Mr.chidambaram took utmost care to live up to the view.Hence, his budget allocation for school education is as follows : " Increase in allocation for school education by 35% from Rs.17,133 crore to Rs.23,142 crore, of which Rs.10,671 crore for SSA, provision for strengthening of teachers training institutions to be increased from Rs.162 crore to Rs.450 crore with 200,000 more teachers to be appointed and 500,000 more class rooms to be constructed. Mid-day Meal Scheme to be provided Rs.7,324 crore; provision for secondary education to double from Rs.1,837 crore to Rs.3,794 crore. National Means-cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme to be introduced to arrest drop out ratio; each student to be given Rs.6,000 per year; 100,000 scholarships to be awarded every year; a corpus fund of Rs.750 crore to be created this year." This, hopefully, would help in stemming the rot of the dropout rate- the percentage of children reaching grade V falls down absymally to 79% of those enrolled at Grade I.

The knowledge commission stresses on the importance of vocational education. It says: " An important aspect of India's rapidly growing economy is a skilled and educated workforce, and a demographic advantage over aging Western societies. Technicians and other skilled workers and craftsmen form the backbone of manufacturing and infrastructure development. There is a growing demand for skilled workers but data suggests that this demand is not met by the existing system, since the skills imparted do not match employer needs. In order for the system to become more relevant in the changing context and to exploit this demographic advantage in the future, there is a need to create a model of imparting vocational education that is flexible, sustainable, inclusive and creative."

The finance minister has been wise enough to act upon this recommendation coupled with the fact that its the plumbers and fitters who work in the gulf that remit more to the indian exchequer rather than the indians at silicon valley. Thus, the following allocation for iti's(Industrial Training Institutes) : as many as 1396 Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) have been proposed to be upgraded into centres of excellence in specific trades and skills under Public-Private Partnership (PPP).The Finance Minister also proposed to grant an interest-free loan up to Rs 2.5 crore to each ITI for upgrading and revision of courses. He sought the cooperation of the state governments in upgrading at least 300 ITIs every year beginning 2007-08 under the PPP mode. He further stated that Rs. 750 crore have been kept aside for this purpose. This, however, serves as mere lip service because there need to be vocational training centres for handicrafts and other cottage industries which the finance minister has refused to address in his budget. So far so good. however,here are further more glitches in this pro aam aadmi scheme.

Allocating 6% of GDP is not the panacea for the social ill of illiteracy. The government has to ensure that the money reaches the poor and needy. Devolve is the key word in this context. All the mandarins and bureaucrats involved in this process must abstain from any kind of depradations. Speculations are rife that an additional 1% cess on the tax payers for education sector is to go into the swiss accounts(which is an almost inevitable thing in such machinations) of the politicians. Thus, its imperative that the government sets up a regulatory mechanism to overlook the spending of public money and if anyone is found erring, the punishment meted should be severe. Teachers need to be made more accountable. Intermittent presence in the class rooms would be serving no purpose. Last year, the finance mininster has rattled off on how thousands of one room schools are beign set up across the country. The reality is that many remain simple fragments of imagination on paper.

If this is the state of primary education then higher education too does not augur well for indian students. A handful of iim's and iit's are not sufficient enough to accomodate the huge talent pool of india. Thus, not surprisingly, every year about a lakh students visit the shores of USA to pursue their higher studies. If other countries are to be taken into account, the indian student population would be easily hovering at the million mark. Annually as much as $4 billion goes out of India to foreign universities. According to commerce ministry, a half of this amount would be enough to set up 1500 universities in the country by 2015. Why do the students need to go abroad to hone their skills ? Simple. Apart from flexicube and tally, the indian software sector has largely been relegated to providing "services". This is happening because of lack of incubation facilities. Whereas, in USA its incumbent on the university to have an incubation centre. With proper incubation facilities, we can surely innovate. Until then google forms part of our cyber jargon. There is a certain view that the east india company introduced english medium of education so that they can have cheap accountants. This, the writer thinks, is still existing. Just look at the progress sheet attached to this write up. Its of this writer's 10 yr old cousin who is studying in USA. The parameters in which a student is evaluated is so comprehensive compared to the indian students. Chiasmus and anacoluthia should hold as much sway with the students as ms paint and power point.

First time entrepreneurs are hardly encouraged in india. Bureaucratic hassles are a huge detterent. This certainly does not paint a rosy picture for a management student in india. A miniscule seats in medical education is already a much talked about but not worked upon issue. Dilapidated buildings, archaic lab facilities,lack of quality faculty,lack of academic counsellors,lack of flexible curriculum,too much of fixation on marks,didactic pedagogy prove to be the nemesis of the current crop of students. And no wonder, they are visiting foreign universitites from a country. Its high time that the HRD minister mr.arjun singh takes upon some preventive measures to curb the malaise.

Sources from where the excerpts have been taken:

Budget 2007-08

Tailpiece: The indian cricket team is more considerate of the students plight than the concerrned authorities. They realised that students are staying awake late night due to the current world up and that their performance is taking a beating(may be not as bad as it happened against bangladesh and sri lanka) at the board exams. Hence, they sacrificed the world cup for the future of the country. Hats off, dravid and co.

Recommendations of the fortnight:

Tokyo cancelled: What starts off as "kuch meetha ho jaye" is actually a "conspirators of pleasure" meets "3 women" with "the maltese falcon" eavesdropping and "pan's labyrinth" being a constant onlooker. Rana dasgupta's debut novel is a mess. But,hey, what a glorious mess it is. His flights of imagination makes the reader so earthbound.

Fucking amal: The writer's image of portrayal of lesbianism on screen has always been of dildos entering all holes available. Thankfully, lukas moodysson has crafted a daguerreotype. Watch this movie for the true angst of a teenager while in both a heterosexual and homosexual relationship. If that does not sustain your interest, watch it for the sake of Alexandra Dahlström. She is breathtaking in every sense.


At 9:30 AM, Blogger lalitha said...

Too much of statistics... but in the end, I felt what you said about the things which must be done was quite appropriate... The stuff on the Indian cricket team was really muuuaaaahhhhhhh.... Keep it uppppp!

At 10:57 AM, Blogger StandbyMind said...

We have so many intellect and intelligent ppl in government ..Manmohan singh, our Fm..Montek singh...They are trying..But still the picture looks all faded ....

:) I hope India Poised...gets poised!

NIce one there!

At 12:58 PM, Blogger garcia kafka said...

@standbymind: We are a country where some of the mandarins have genuine intent but divisive politics continues to be our nemesis and this trend does not seem to abate in the near future..

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Bharat Jhurani said...

dude.. i guess a title 2 the post wld hav made it a little more easier!!

At 10:00 PM, Blogger sowmitra said... u think it wil change????

At 10:08 PM, Anonymous Saby said...

nice post!i already told u wht i had to say abt the article..
Sarcasm in d tailpiece was superb.And the description of d bk Tokyo Can.. was impressive.
"it is a mess but wht a glorious mess is.." i dont knw if u've already quoted someone but if this was original..definitely quotable.

At 2:03 AM, Blogger garcia kafka said...

@bharat: Hi man bharat.. our education system is so clueless that we dont know where it is heading towards.. Hence, no title..


Post a Comment

<< Home