Education for Economic Development: Rethinking The High School
A much better option than pouring money into Skills Education in the hope that the availability of 'skilled people' will create industries - the cart-before-the-horse solution at a time when the horse has bolted - is to rethink the High School and changing it, from a mere instrument of college preparation (in fact, preparation for college selection) to preparation for entry into adult life. This is what it was meant to be. This would be more inclusive than a two-track education system, and affordable by reducing the number of years in education, for those who want to enter work early. A country like India, with vast numbers and urgent need to increase productivity, can then open up the College sector for experimentation - particularly in terms of Online and Work-based degrees - and develop a Lifelong Learning Infrastructure around the same.
Rethinking the High School, I shall argue, is one of the most obvious solutions to Economic Development, but this is being deliberately ignored. We talk about the strong correlation between College Choice and Career Success, but deny that this proves an even stronger correlation between success at High School and Career Success. The recent implosion of wages of High School Diploma holders do not any way prove the value of the college - though it is presented as such - but rather that this has merely morphed into a transitory state on the way to college. The absurd drive for skills training as a separate proposition merely accept the paradigm of college as a middle class branding tool as it is, and exclude people rather than including them. And, finally, ignoring the role of High School keeps the scope of innovation in Higher Education limited.