Is India’s Education Future Ready?

For the past year, I have been focusing on how India needs to prepare itself to deal with emerging challenges of unemployment, under-employment, changing needs of employers, technological disruptions and the appropriate education to face these challenges.

Some of the recent articles such as measuring innovation in education, emerging jobs and preparing for the same, jobs in 2030 and education to achieve SDGs provide an insight into the future of education.

According to a recent article by Siddarth Dasgupta of Ernst and Young, higher education is almost in private hands in India. In 2014, we had 777 universities — 443 public and 334 private. By 2019, we will have more private universities and 79% students would be in private colleges affiliated to a public university. That means 85% students would be studying in private institutions (college or university). But, it is public knowledge that private universities, most of the times, are focused on making business out of education than serving social causes.

There is growing concern in India that the country is currently spending very small amounts on education, per capita. With higher education spend in the last decade pegged at Rs 1.76 lakh crore against a total tax cess collection of Rs 86,538 crore, the spend per year totals to just Rs 1,500 crore each year to serve the increasing student enrollments. The Ministry of Human Resource Development’s data indicate the same trend.

If we understand that education is about all-round development of an ‘individual’, then we have to focus on ‘learning’ rather than ‘educating’. For such learning there is need for freedom of thought, ability to understand, application of the understanding to real-life situations and focusing on overall well-being. For this we need innovations.

Current system in education focuses mostly on innovation in teaching than learning.

Our emphasis should be more on orienting and mentoring our teachers first. They need to un-learn and re-learn to take the responsibility to innovate in learning and through that for education. There are three ways to understand innovation in education:

  1. Redefining fundamentals: The fundamental concept of teaching should be replaced by the concept of learning;
  2. Being a mentor: Teachers should transform themselves as ‘mentors’ than merely being preaching notes they pass on from what they know;
  3. Testing the understanding: We should innovate in teaching our mentors, training our students and transforming our employers. We should do away with churning out people with one objective in mind—getting a job, irrespective of one’s interests and passion, to ‘settle’ in life.

Innovation should come in our thinking, not merely in equipping our classrooms.

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