Because businesses need more and more skilled people to do the jobs, they are the key beneficiaries of education. This has not always been the case - the Church and the Government needed educated people more than businesses until very recently - but in a secular society and with the age of small governments, that has changed. Today, the businesses are perhaps the largest recipient of the educated people, and for most students, education is about preparing for a career in business. Indeed, this does not mean that education does not have any other purpose, but it is best to recognise this changing perspective about education.
What the educators should, or shouldn't, do in this changed context gets discussed all too often. However, what does not get proportionate attention is what businesses need to do. The businesses often complain that they don't get the trained manpower that they need to remain competitive, and they expect the education sector to deliver them what they need, but they wouldn't similarly step up their efforts to facilitate the education that they may want provided. The governmental resources to provide an education that will satisfy the business' requirements are clearly inadequate; and even if the education is privately funded by the students, it is difficult for the educators to balance off all the constituents, including the students, to create an employment focused education.
In this context, it is appropriate to talk about the role of private businesses themselves in bridging the employability gap. The direct engagement of the businesses into the education process, through exchange of know-how, facilitation of experiential learning and provision of funding, can all help make education more relevant to businesses. All these are indeed better than complaining endlessly about the limitations of the traditional education process, and paying a heavy cost in terms of sub-optimal recruitment pipeline.
That businesses should be more engaged in education is already a part of the global conversation, but the current paradigm may be counter-productive. Some countries, like China and India, are experimenting with the ideas of a CSR tax, which is a forced mechanism for businesses to contribute to social causes, education among them. While this works at one level, there is a renewed commitment and expanded commitment among many Indian and Chinese companies, this somewhat undermines the point that the businesses need a learned society for its own sake. With short term earning pressures weighing in on every move of the executives in modern businesses, a business case is far more convincing than any other sort of persuasion. And, taxation, while effective in the short run, may end up undermining a greater consciousness among the businesses about what they need to do to help develop a better workforce.
Besides, the taxation approach, while rightly focusing on the problem of educational access, somewhat ignores the challenge of educational quality and relevance. The latter is, in the context of rapidly changing society, at least as big a problem. While the suggestion that one should focus on Quality but not Access is nonsensical, the opposite is also equally wrong. However, this is the implicit argument in the conversation behind the CSR tax, that one needs to solve the problem of access first (and quality and relevance can be thought about later). This does not work, because a bad education is often worse than no education: While the countries have increased the numbers going into education over the last two decades, the numbers dropping out has soared, not just in absolute terms, but also as a percentage of people going into education at every level. And, graduates found unemployable topped up this problem further. The CSR approach to education does nothing to encourage businesses to join the conversation about relevant education for their own sake, which arguably would have a much greater impact, both in convincing businesses about their commitment to education as well as overall educational impact.
In fact, businesses can do a lot in injecting result orientation and innovation in education. In fact, where they play a role, they do such things. While most of these things are viewed with suspicion by educators, these are basic values of modern business. If the students are to prepare for a career in business, they are better off going through a system which are informed by such values. Indeed, no one is suggesting that there will be one monolithic system of education and businesses will do all of it; the state will still have a role to play and so will the religious and community organisations. But businesses can involve itself within the context of sectors or types of institutions (say Business or Engineering Schools) and innovations in these sectors, if effective and relevant, can spread to other places.
However, to get the innovation and result orientation going, the businesses will need to be more involved. Currently, it is all about doing good, which translates into some limited amount of money and mostly hands off engagement, alongside lots of window-dressing to make the business look good. The little money that flows in also goes mostly into 'trophy items', Academic Chairs, Research Centres, or at best Scholarships, and most of these remain one-off, unsustained and of limited impact for both the student and the respective businesses themselves. An urgent conversation needs to happen towards how best to make businesses create a sustained commitment, through greater involvement and clear linkages to its own strategic goals: Getting the businesses on the table to have this conversation is perhaps the best way to enhance employability.
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
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. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
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 was gui
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
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, as
A lot of conversations about Kolkata is about its past; I want to talk about its future. Most conversations about Kolkata is about its decline - its golden moments and how times changed; I want to talk about its rise, how its best may lie ahead and how we can change the times. In place of pessimism, I seek optimism; instead of inertia, I am looking for imagination. It is not about catching up, I am arguing; it is about making a new path altogether. It had, indeed it had, a glorious past: One of the first Asian cities to reach a million population, the Capital of British India, the cradle of an Enlightened Age and a new politics of Cosmopolitanism. And, it had stumbled - losing the hinterland that supplied its Jute factories, overwhelmed by the refugees that came after the partition, devoid of its professional class who chose to emigrate - the City's commercial and professional culture evaporated in a generation, and it transformed into a corrupt and inefficien
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
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
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.