Published: 06th July 2019
Why India's current education system needs reforms and a fresh start
The greatest challenge facing the higher education sector is the quality and relevance of the education that is imparted
Serving a population of nearly 1.4 billion people, the Indian education sector is huge. Addressing the needs of such a large, dispersed and diverse population would obviously have its own challenges. Even more so, given the dynamic nature of the job market and business world. Primary education has witnessed increasing penetration in India and the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (popularly known as Right to Education or RTE) has, without a doubt, brought this aspect into focus. But what are some of the challenges faced by higher education and what are the reforms that will help meet these challenges if India and Indian graduates are to remain competitive in our VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world?
The greatest challenge facing the higher education sector is the quality and relevance of the education that is imparted. The 2019 edition of the India Skill Report, an annual survey and a joint initiative of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Association of Indian Universities (AIU), shows that only 36.4 per cent of MBAs are considered employable. The employability rate of engineering graduates is relatively better, but still at a low 57.1 per cent. The survey parameters include employability and a skills test. Over 3,10,000 graduates across fields appeared for the test and were evaluated on various subjects including English, critical thinking, numerical aptitude, domain knowledge and so on.
Some other challenges
Financing: Shrinking allocation to education in government budgets have led to a funding crunch in public higher education in India. Also, quality private education is accessible only to a small percentage of the population that can afford it.
Enrolment: Some estimates put higher education enrolment rates in the high single digits! Enrolment rates are obviously higher in urban areas. Hence, this implies that rural enrolment is poor.
Accreditation: The mushrooming of private institutions has led to a situation where degrees are awarded by poorly regulated entities.
Quality: The management education sector has grown in the last few years on the back of demand for management graduates. Since ‘Management’ is a subjective topic, this field suffers from poor quality institutions.