In course of my visit in India, I am starting to get an idea of its new higher education landscape. This is why I came, and as I see things, I am excited by the opportunities it presents to education entrepreneurs.
Indeed, the Indian higher ed has gone through significant transformation in the last few years, with an expansion of public and private investment, a few significant 'education scandals' and a new aspiring middle class knocking the doors vigorously. India is one major country in the world where the Government is still investing in Higher education: Understandably so, as the country is riding on its demographic dividend and looking to up-skill its huge young population. Indian industry is hungry for skilled workers, and as I understood from my several conversations, there are abundant middle level positions which are still unfilled despite the surge in graduate population.The private sector expansion has been fast, perhaps too fast, but broken legislation and flawed models affected real progress so far. The private sector participation has expanded the degree granting seats, but not much else, because the sector has been dominated by follow-the-herd thinking, everyone trying to offer in demand skills, and very little leadership and new thinking have been in evidence.
For Indian Higher Education, this is best and worst of the times at the same time. Here is a case of bottomless demand, huge capacity expansion and a complete demand-supply anachronism. The reason is, like other things in India, lack of planning under the guise of overplanning. If the government had a plan for higher education, other than looking away and let some marauders make some money, it is not evident. The government's own investment was primarily channeled into creation of elite Engineering and Business colleges, though the general education colleges are the ones which serve most students and needed most funding. On the private investment side, the government tried to control the quality of education with the tool of land ownership - the regulation more or less is that you can get a college license if you own land - which completely subverts the ownership and incentives for an education business. Education has become a convenient way to employ real estate in recessionary times, and most of the surge in Higher Education, which further expanded the seats in Engineering and Business Management, is guided by this thinking rather than any strategic foresight. Indeed, the supply-demand gap is only to be expected in this situation.
The response of the industry so far has been curious. In India, you don't expect the government to do anything right, and rather try to fend for yourself. So far, instead of pressurizing the government to get the education infrastructure right, the industry has focused on setting up in-campus schools. Widely feted, this is the wrong model though: As the export-based industries face the recessionary pinch and competitive pressures from countries like Philippines, the cost of in-company training and wastage of human capital through general education that does not work, is making India Inc uncompetitive. As we come to know the limits of in-company training, the Indian industry has fallen in love with 'employability training'. These days, employability certification is being talked about at the expense of higher education. This is indeed a dirty fix, if it ever works: There is no other solution India can find to compete and succeed in world economy other than getting its Higher Ed right.
So, stage set for Higher Ed 2.0 in India? Possibly, and we have no choice but optimism. This year, MBA and engineering seats are going empty and promoters are waking up to the fact that education can be an expensive way of holding real estate. We may have failures of some educational institutions on the cards, which should finally make the regulators understand that having land is not any indicator of serious educational intention. This should throw open the business to serious educators, who should bring new innovation in the field. I can predict three things that will change in Education, for better, in the coming months.
First, the focus will shift from land and building to people, promoters and tutors, their credibility and whether they are serious about education and has the capability to teach.
Second, we shall see curriculum innovation and offerings in areas beyond Engineering and Management. Surely a society will need its teachers, accountants, artists, journalists to function, and they will become paying careers for many people. The expansion of such positions have been underserved by education sector so far.
Third, creative capacity of an individual - his or her ability to deal with diverse situations and problems - will make a comeback in education. It has been pushed out by the demands of narrow functional specialism, and now that the model does not expectedly work, we are seeking a yet narrower solution. Surely, it is time to wake up and get the model of education right.
So, that's my take-away from India - a quest for a new Higher Education. This is indeed a worthwhile thing to spend time thinking about.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Reli
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
India's employment data is sobering ( see here ). The pandemic has wrecked havoc and the structural problems of the economy - service sector dependence, uneven regional development and health and education challenges - are more evident than ever. Something needs to happen, and fast. To its credit, the government acknowledges the education challenge. Belatedly - it took more than 30 years - India has come up with a new National Education Policy. It is a comprehensive policy, which covers the whole spectrum of education and perhaps overcompensates the previous neglect by advocating radical change. As I commented elsewhere on this blog, it shows a curious mixture of aspirations, cultural revival and global competitiveness put under the same hood. However, despite its radical aspirations, the policy document often betrays same-old thinking. One of these is India's approach to foreign universities. The NEP makes the case for allowing foreign universities to set up operations in Ind
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.