Thursday, June 16, 2011

Clamour for Private Investment in Education

Manish Sabharwal, Chairman, Team-Lease Services, points out that in 1987, 1 million students took class XII exams and SRCC (Sri Ram College of Commerce) had 800 seats then. In 2011, 11 million students wrote class XII exams, but SRCC has the same number of seats. "We need more colleges, more competition," says Sabharwal, who graduated from SRCC. This may also be a perfect opportunity for those clamouring for private investments in education to make their voice heard.

Shantanu Prakash, Managing Director, Educomp Solutions, thinks a 100% cut-off is a reflection of an urgent need for capacity building in higher education. "There is a need for high-quality institutes so that meritorious students are not left out in the cold. This is where private participation becomes important," adds Prakash, who is from SRCCs class of 1986.

Several industry heads criticise India's exam and marks system which puts pressure on students and parents. "Who are the children who get 100% anyway?" asks consumer markets strategist Rama Bijapurkar. "If anybody can get 100%, I think the exam itself begs a revision," she adds. C.K. Ranganathan, Chairman & Managing Director of consumer goods company CavinKare, dismisses the move as "brand-building exercise". "What the college is trying to do is send out a message --- we are a premium college and it's not just the MBBS colleges that can demand such high percentages."

A section of CEOs also believes that scores don't matter. Neither does the college you pass out from especially when the demands are so high. Murthy makes the larger point that "you don't have to go to the best college to succeed in life. Students who study from average schools and colleges work harder and smarter and show higher personal initiative than students from better-known institutes."

Adds Anand Mahindra, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra: "The key to success is doing something that you passionately enjoy. If you have passion, you will excel no matter what your academic scorecard looks like." Harsh Agarwal, Director of Emami, says he would never force his children into such institutions.

Source: The Economic Times, June 16, 2011

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