Skill-gap: Here’s what India needs in education

By: and | Updated: October 7, 2016 7:10 AM

What India needs is a PPP model in education

In fact, Stanford professor and “Baby Nobel” prize winner, Raj Chetty, in his research on value addition by teacher, states that a good teacher can create substantial economic value for students. (Source: Reuters)

The skills-gap of teachers is increasing across academic disciplines, and it is not a good sign for an emerging economy like India. Since, teachers are directly involved in grooming tomorrow’s leaders, it becomes imperative to improve the quality of teachers and also narrow down the skills-gap.

In fact, Stanford professor and “Baby Nobel” prize winner, Raj Chetty, in his research on value addition by teacher, states that a good teacher can create substantial economic value for students. While a bad teacher, who has worked for more than a decade in an institute, creates a loss of $2.5 million.

His research, primarily, highlights that the skills-gap in teachers can hurt the economy as it can exact huge losses in the long-run.

As this is an important phase for the Indian economy, we need quality teachers, trainers, researchers to create young and dynamic leaders. Premier Indian management institutions have been successful in recruiting global talent from Yale University, New York University, MIT, etc, during the 1980s and 1990s, but others need to do the same.

While as an emerging country, India is attracting global investments, in the form of foreign institutional investment and foreign direct investment, it has failed to attract academician from top universities of the world.

For many years, teachers in India were undergoing several challenges in teaching, research and training owing to bad management of educational institutions. Now, it is necessary to provide appropriate skill development training for teachers across the areas of academic disciplines, both in sciences as well as in humanities.

Despite the country having 732 universities and 36,000 degree colleges, there are serious concerns about the quality of education and availability of qualified teachers. So much so that President Pranab Mukherjee stated on Teacher’s Day, that there is a “big deficiency” in the quality of education in the country despite the presence of institutions like the IITs and NITs, while also highlighting that the flow of Indian students to institutions abroad needs to be reversed.

But one needs to understand that skills-gap is a result of differences in policies across the state universities. Though state universities’ contribution to the market is huge, lack of co-ordination among the departments and the failed implementation of choice based credit systems is what creates the problem.

Recently, the ministry of human resource development created a corpus from CSR funds to improve the quality of teachers in research. One of the important measures from the ministry is building up of industry linkages to get CSR funds for conducting high level research.

Private enterprises are also at a loss due to absence of necessary skill sets in the job aspirants, which has led them to set up private universities like Munjal University, Shiv Nadar University, NIIT University, Azim Premji University etc. These institutions are creating customised programmes to fulfill industry requirements.

More important, they are providing excellent global resources of data bases, training facilities and the best infrastructure. State universities also need to do such collaborations with private enterprises to improve funding from CSR initiatives, which can provide an opportunity for knowledge transfer from practitioners to academician. We should allow private bodies to collaborate with state and central universities to design industry required programmes. This model can create value for the economy and all stakeholders involved in the process.

The MHRD and other regulatory bodies in higher education should maintain their focus on grooming new faculties in the areas of teaching and research according to market requirements and demands. Much like the plan for world-class institutions, the country needs to have a blue-print for building global talent from all groups.

India needs more institutions like the Barefoot College, a non-governmental organisation which trains solar engineers, hand-pump mechanics, communicators and engineers in a range of trades with the motto of ‘learning by doing and doing by learning’ as these can certainly move the economy higher up in the value chain.

Shekar is an assistant professor, accounting & finance, Institute of Public Enterprise, Hyderabad and Khan is a former vice-chancellor Telangana University. Views are personal

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