Friday, May 23, 2014

HRD: Focus on skills, scholarships, job-oriented education

A lot of what the incoming Prime Minister Narendra Modi promises would be easier to achieve if education gets top priority. The government must focus on changing lives through out-of-the-box initiatives.

Higher education, in particular, is in disarray and needs to be reinvigorated. Building of skills needs focus as that would increase employability of the youth. The Modi government should build on several good UPA initiatives and further strengthen them by plugging loopholes, boost spending on education to at least 6% of GDP, a globally accepted standard, to provide the much-needed funds to increase school enrolment and, most importantly, check the persistently high dropout rates.

To ensure access to quality education, scholarships, book banks, IT facilities, translation services and institutional infrastructure should be made compliant with highest standards in all parts of the country. Modernize teachers' training and strictly monitor through an independent mechanism; revamp teaching methods by use of modern technologies and methods; make service conditions and remuneration of teachers more secure and attractive.

The new Government should also take the following actions to make Indian education more dynamic: Accord highest priority to skill development and training in vocational/technical subjects with dynamic linkages to industry needs; Strengthen Right to Education; Help states with funds so that trained and qualifed teachers are recruited and ensure their attendance is ensured; Recast Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in terms of syllabus and give English teaching top priority; Revamp the UGC (University Grants Commission) and implement promise of higher education commission; Scrap AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) and merge it with new commission. Government should also bridge the gap between central and state universities; bolster Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan for this purpose.

The new Government should stop opposing sanction for foreign universities to set up campuses in India; do quality audit of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs); ask IITs to pay attention to research and not just be factories producing engineers; give IIMs deemed university status to encourage genuine research in a fast changing economy; and create more IITs and IIMs.

Source: The Times of India, May 23, 2014

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