Prime Minister's Council on TRADE & INDUSTRY

Special Subject Group on
Policy Framework for Private Investment in
Education, Health and Rural Development

Report on
A Policy Framework for Reforms in Education


 

A POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR REFORMS IN EDUCATION

Summary of the report by Shri Mukesh Ambani (Convenor)

and Shri Kumarmangalam Birla (Member) for the

Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Trade and Industry

Education is universally recognised as an important investment in building human capital, which is a driver for technological innovation and economic growth. Education is becoming even more vital in the new world of information, where knowledge is rapidly replacing raw materials and labour as the most critical input for survival and success. India has to see education not just as a component of social development, but as a means of securing her future in an information society, resplendent with knowledge, research, creativity and innovation.

The challenge in education in India is to bridge the large divide between the education have nots and the haves, while simultaneously, radically upgrading education content, delivery and processes. Given the magnitude of the challenge and the complexities involved, this will call for a national mission unprecedented in the history of mankind.

Presently, literacy rates are not only low, but are also highly skewed on gender, state wise spread and urban-rural spread. Programmes and schemes launched by government to improve the education system have had varying degrees of success. India has excellent examples of institutions at all levels of education to demonstrate its capability, but below this elite crust there is not much to speak of. In the universe of education in India, one world includes a fortunate few with access to modern institutions and facilities. A second world of teachers, administrators, textbook publishers and students wants to maintain status quo. A third world struggles with fundamental issues on access to and availability of basic educational resources. India cannot hope to succeed in the information age on the back of three such disparate worlds.

The vision for education in India should be ‘to create a competitive, yet co-operative, knowledge based society.‘

 

 

To achieve this vision, several reforms have to be initiated.

Primary education should be made compulsory and free. Secondary education should be compulsory as well. There is no getting away from enforcing the Constitutional commitment to compulsory education for children up to the age of fourteen years.

Regulations for continuous teacher training and quality upgradation should be made.

The vast and growing resources in information and communication technologies should be leveraged to bring about smart schools that integrate computers, networks and content.

Pre-school and primary education should migrate from teaching to ‘sensory learning’ to foster creative joy and healthy psychological development of children.

Learning through practices and experiences should be emphasised and the teacher’s role should transform to one of a facilitator.

Trained teachers should serve for a specified period in the rural areas as part of their development.

A common national system for educational content at the school level, after providing for regional and local variations, should be introduced.

Value education and physical education at pre-primary and primary level and vocational education at the secondary level must be stressed.

Schools of learning should be encouraged to constantly upgrade content and facilities to make them more market oriented. Research should be encouraged right from undergraduate level in all fields.

A variety of programs to provide alternative education opportunities for working and underprivileged children, such as flexible schedules and orientation schools, should be introduced.

Education management should be decentralised. Financing and management of education at the primary and secondary level should be devolved to the Panchayat level.

A common system for admissions to professional courses based on national standardised tests should be instituted. Concurrently, the system of migration certificates should be abolished and students be allowed to move from one institution to another based on a system of transfer of professional credits.

A system for periodical rating of all educational institutions by independent agencies should be instituted.

Government must focus strongly on literacy, primary and secondary education and leave higher and professional education to the private sector.

Government should also support disciplines that have no market orientation, selectively support centres of higher learning, provide financial guarantees for student loans, ensure uniformity in content and quality and plan education development.

Institutions not depending on government for funding or having low levels of funding should have the freedom to innovate.

Government should also keep the economy free from controls to foster new opportunities that will create a market for graduates from the education system.

The government should fund infrastructure on a priority basis for schools run by it.

The government should establish an education development fund for primary and literacy education with donations to this fund exempted from income tax.

Government should also progressively reduce the funding for universities and make them adopt the route of self-sufficiency. Concurrently, a credit market for private finance of cost of higher education should be developed.

A Private University Bill should be legislated to encourage establishment of new private universities in the fields of science and technology and management.

Existing centres of excellence should be encouraged to establish international centres to attract overseas students. Foreign direct investment in education should be allowed, to begin with, limited to science and technology and management areas.

All political parties should come to an understanding that they will keep away from universities and educational institutions.

Any form of political activity on campuses of universities and educational institutions should be banned.

Regional Engineering Colleges must be provided autonomy and resources and facilities must be upgraded.

Industrial Training Institutes should upgrade their curriculum, facilities and infrastructure to provide the burgeoning demand for skilled technical manpower.

Looking into the future, the recurring expenditure on education in the year 2015 would be Rs 1,80,000 crores, at current prices. The capital expenditure would be Rs 88,900 crores spread over the next 15 years. These projections are three times the current expenditure. The total number of teachers in all sectors would have to more than double from the existing 49 lakhs.

The education sector in India needs not just reforms, but a revolution – an information revolution. Just as the green revolution in agriculture ushered in high productivity and prosperity through the use of technology, a revolution in education that embraces information and communications technologies, fosters freedom and innovation and induces a market oriented competitive environment is vital for progress and prosperity in the information era.

 

 

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