PPP no solution to edu mess
Apropos of the column “Educating the teachers” (FE, October 7), WB Yeats, the famous Irish poet, had wrote: “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.”. If there is one big idea that can change the nation, it is improving the state of education. But since Independence, our education system has been staggering and, now, there are no Indian universities or institutions, including the hallowed IITs/IIMs, in the top-200 of the Quacquarelli Symonds World University rankings. In fact, it is a buyer’s market and there are market-forces that play a pivotal role in students getting admissions. Education is being sold like hot cakes, with lucrative offers even! The public-private partnership system, propounded by your columnist, is in no way the solution to this serious problem. There is no dearth of qualified and competent teachers across the nation. If our well-trained teachers can show their exemplary competency abroad, why not here? It is because that the government doesn’t want to recognise their talent and education often gets politicised. Since the 1990s, there have been serious cut in funding for institutions of higher education, and there is a mushrooming of private colleges and universities that offer professional degrees solely to cater to the job market. Many of these institutions do not have the qualified teachers, which is a pre-requisite as per AICTE/UGC rules. The teachers are recruited at very low salaries. The need of the hour is to open more public-funded colleges/universities with proper infrastructure and appoint teachers who are capable of facing the challenges of global competition. Further, the government needs to provide more funds to the education sector, which, at present, gets as low as 2.5% of the GDP. Since the days of the Kothari Commission report, experts have been advocating an expenditure of 6% of the GDP for the sector. The curricula also requires a desperate revamp to suit the modern-day industry requirements. The concern expressed by the columnists. that the public-funded model doesn’t serve any purpose , unless the objective is be to promote inclusive higher education is unfounded. By ensuring fair, transparent and non-exploitative administration of educational institutions besides offering better courses, salary and service conditions to the teaching and non-teaching personnel, the government could transform higher education. To achieve this objective, we must build a powerful struggle so that the government is forced to abandon its policy of commercialisation of education and ensure a real right to education for the youth of our country.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh