Educating Bharat

Updated: Apr 7 2014, 16:31pm hrs
As a majority of our countrys population resides in villages, the issue of quality higher education in rural India is of utmost importance. We do boast of some high quality institutions and, of late, new IITs, IIMs and NITs have come up, but the fact remains that most of these institutions remain urban-centric. If we talk about universities, though we have seen a huge growth in their number, still the country lacks the critical mass in higher education. One major reason is that most universities too are urban-centric. The rural population is, to a large extent, deprived of access to quality higher educationand we must not forget that the bulk of youth between the age group 18-22 comes out of rural India.

Higher education institutions must need to reflect the demand of a particular geographical area they are set up in. A special focus needs to be given to the selection of the courses and programmes that would be offered by these institutions as well as the development of the courser curriculum. We are talking about the advent of demand-driven universities and institutions, which would cater to the local requirements of the rural geography through skill-based and employment-oriented learning. For example, the economy of Madhya Pradesh, to a large extent, relies on its textile, mining and steel manufacturing units. Millions are employed in these industries. Thus, it is important to have higher education institutions that have textile and steel manufacturing oriented courses to cater to the growing demands of qualified professionals for senior level jobs in these sectors. Unexplored industries like agriculture, poultry, construction, rubber and plumbing have a huge requirement of manpower, but there are hardly enough number of institutions catering to this. We need to have skill-based universities that will train people appropriately; giving them employment-oriented learning.

States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa dont have many good quality institutes. Thus, a large number of students from such states opt for migration. But the cost involved in leaving the hometown and migrating for higher studies results in dropouts. Thus, the presence of higher educational institutions in rural areas will prevent migration and encourage the trend of higher professional education.

One must keep in mind that a lot of companies operate in rural geography in our country, and they need to hire skilled workforce, preferably from nearby areas. The presence of good quality institutes in such regions would ensure companies dont turn to metro cities for job hunting. What we now hope is that the new government takes active steps to built new institutions in semi-urban and rural areas. What we need is a seamless connectivity between vocational education and higher education, and between rural and urban.

Santosh Kumar Choubey

The author is chancellor, AISECT University, Bhopal, and CV Raman University, Bilaspur