Education & Aspiring India: RSTV – Big Picture

Rajya Sabha TV programs like ‘The Big Picture’, ‘In Depth’ and ‘India’s World’ are informative programs that are important for UPSC preparation. In this article, you can read about the discussions held in the ‘Big Picture’ episode on “Education & Aspiring India” for the IAS exam.

Education & Aspiring India: RSTV – Big Picture:- Download PDF Here

Anchor: Frank Rausan Pereira 

Guests: Anita Rampal, Professor, Department of Education, University of Delhi; Sushil Chandra Tripathi, Former Secretary, Ministry of HRD, GoI; Aditi Tandon, Special Correspondent, The Tribune.

Context:

  • In the Union Budget 2020, the budget earmarked Rs 99,300 crore for the education sector in 2020-21 and about Rs 3,000 crore for skill development.
    • In the previous Union Budget (2019), the government’s allocation for the sector was Rs 94,800 crore.
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has suggested a speedy implementation of the new education policy, besides several other measures that will bring a paradigm shift in the educational systems and aid in the creation of employment in India and abroad.
  • The Centre will soon announce a new education policy.

Provisions governing Education in the Indian Constitution: 

  • According to Article 21-A, of the Indian Constitution, Education is a fundamental right.
    • Article 21-A provides that “the state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years, in such manner as the state may by law determine.” 
    • The Right To Education Act (RTE) is the consequential legislation. 

What should we expect from the new education policy?

    • The FM has informed that about 150 higher educational institutions will start apprenticeship embedded degree/diploma courses by March 2021 and will start a programme whereby urban local bodies across the country would provide internship opportunities to fresh engineers for a period up to one year. 
    • To create infrastructure in the education sector, steps would be taken to enable sourcing External Commercial Borrowings (ECB) and FDI so as to be able to deliver higher quality education. 
    • Institutions that are ranked within the top 100 in the National Institutional Ranking framework will start a degree level full-fledged online education program for students of deprived sections of the society.
    • There are provisions for setting up of medical colleges with district-level hospitals supported by extended viable funding by the government. This is a measure aimed at bringing a revolution in the field of medical science education. 
    • Another big bang reform the government has introduced in the budget is of conducting an online Common Entrance Test (CET) for all the non-gazetted posts through an independent body National Recruitment Body which will be set up very soon.
    • The Finance Minister has also intimated a proposal to introduce an IND-SAT exam under the ‘Study in India’ programme for the Asian and African countries to bench-mark foreign candidates who receive scholarships for studying in Indian higher education centres.
  • This is a measure to place emphasis on India as a preferred destination for higher education.

Focus on skill development in the new education policy:

  • The lack of skill development can cause a demographic disaster, thus a focus on skill development is of utmost importance.
  • The new education policy focuses on skill development recognizing that India is currently producing a large number of graduates with no skill for employability. There is a huge gap between education and knowledge and skill among graduates. 
  • The education sector is dominated by degrees and not skills.
  • A special bridge course with an aim to bring equivalence and improve the skill-sets of teachers, nurses, paramedical staff and caregivers would be designed by the ministries of health and skill development and entrepreneurship in conjunction with professional bodies.
  • The allocation of Rs 3000 crore for Skill development in the Union Budget 2020-21 might not augur well for the future of the education sector, especially, for the students of technical education.

Online coaching: a revolutionary measure or a wonted measure?

  • Online coaching could prove to be a measure that could either make a large difference or create more chaos.
  • The risk associated with online coaching is that the students would not be taking it up seriously and thus would obtain a degree for namesake without having acquired any skills either.
  • This could be perceived as selling degrees with no face value.
  • Online coaching would eliminate the aspect of peer-learning and discussions which promote an in-depth knowledge of the subject and offer multiple perspectives.
  • It would also make it difficult for students to develop a healthy competitive attitude. Other minor oppositions to the idea include technological constraints and lack of access in the remote areas.
  • However, if the program is implemented properly, there stands a chance that this could be a successful measure. One would have to wait for the results of the schemes proposed.

Issues and challenges in the education sector:

The needs of higher education and school education haven’t been met. Only about 12% of the schools are RTE compliant.

  • Quality of education: The Right to Education has not guaranteed Quality education to the poor due to loopholes in the system and lack of regular monitoring 
    • This creates a bias between the students who can afford to pay for private schools and those who attend government schools.
    • Government schools have become synonymous with poor quality education.
  • Teachers: The shortage of teachers is also a problem. 
    • The teachers are often absent in the government institutes or engaged in non-educational activities. 
    • The teacher training institutes are mostly private institutes that impart a subpar quality of teacher training. 
  • School Infrastructure: Most of the schools lack basic facilities such as separate bathrooms for girls and boys, playgrounds, and some schools even lack an adequate number of classrooms.
  • Lack of emphasis on skills: There is a huge gap between industrialists and academicians and this affects the soft skill development in the students. Most of the graduates lack the necessary skills required by employers.
  • Commercialization of education: The education sector has been commercialized, which has resulted in the students not getting access to an equal and quality education. The students who attend private schools get access to a better quality of education and facilities than the students who attend government schools. 

Way forward:

    • Quality Teacher Education: The teacher training institutes should be taken under government control or regulated to ensure that they provide good quality education and training to the teachers.
    • All the schools should be made RTE compliant. Effective implementation of the RTE Act should be ensured. 
      • The age extension under the RTE Act from 6-14 years to 3-18 years must be made.
    • Quality of Education: the quality of higher education should be improved.
      • Peer learning should be encouraged in schools.
      • The educational boards such as UGC and AICTE have to be reformed.
      • Vocational education has to be brought to the mainstream.
      • Attendance of teachers and their involvement in non-academic activities during school time must be checked regularly.
      • Life skills should be linked with secondary education.
    • Focus on skill development: a lot of emphasis has to be placed on skill development in order to ensure that graduate students can be employed.
      • Work-Based learning should be promoted.
  • Online courses: The courses offered as online courses have to be highly selective.
  • School Infrastructure reforms: Multiple public schools should be brought together to form a school complex. The government should also ensure that the basic facilities such as playgrounds, an adequate number of classrooms, separate washrooms, fans, etc. are present in the schools.

Conclusion:

The new educational policy has set forth ambitious goals for the government. If implemented properly, it could bring about a major revolution in the Indian education system. However, the government needs to focus on the current issues and challenges present in the educational sector.

Education & Aspiring India: RSTV – Big Picture:- Download PDF Here

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