Only 50 million children of over a billion people today get the opportunity to appear in the class X, XI and XII board exams, even though only 50 percent of them eventually get into colleges. Thus, contributing to 18 GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio) that India show to the world and look at the western world with envy where GER is as high as 80. Despite efforts of improving the supply chain in education and school systems, facilitating financial loan models and assuming an increase in the pass percentage of students in X, XI, and XII standards, there will always be 10 million more children who will be waiting to go to colleges. Is the capacity that we have created today capable of accommodating them in colleges? Don't we need many more colleges and Universities notwithstanding the fact that the demographics point out to almost 50 percent of the population to be below the age of 30 years in the next 10 odd years. It would be disastrous for the country if we were to limit our children's entry to colleges because we cannot accommodate them or restrict their education because we cannot find them a suitable job. Focused skill development, with employability as the maxim, is the need of the day. The framework created by MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) and AICTE allows students to learn competency based skills along with general education at various certificate levels initiated early in the school going, all the way up to a diploma or a graduate level.
A Bachelor in Vocational Education now duly constituted is expected to play as catalyst to an otherwise saturated system. This enables students to study Diploma or a Degree in Vocational education along with acquiring skills. The most important feature of the framework is students could also avail of multi point entry and exit between formal or vocational education and the job market.
The Opening Moves
Quality does not lie end to end in any system and follows the pyramidal structure. Quality initiatives are required to flatten the top and not cut the base of the pyramid for that would amount to denying access. AICTE has mandated several initiatives like internships for students and faculty, funding for setting up research parks and incubation centres, enhanced Ph.D scholarships, and enabling mechanisms for PG studies.
Currently for Technical Education, there are no Institutes that can define the policies, vision, promote research and innovation except that the same is done within the educational Institutes. A game changer for technology is expected by the decision to set up four Policy Planning, Research and Innovation Institutes in the Country. Along with this, we are setting up 35 research parks- one in each State where a funding of up to Rs. 1 crore will be given by AICTE on a matching grant by the Industry. Moreover,, there will be an emphasis on PG and Doctoral education, research publications, IPRs and patents.
To promise this, PG courses have been allowed in 2nd shift to help candidates to take up PG education along with jobs, which has helped faculty to improve qualifications. Institutes have been allowed to conduct Modular Courses in the evening time to optimise resources. We have started Dual degree and integrated programs in management that benefit a large section of working professionals in addition to improving quality. In order to make the system accessible to all on equal terms, we conduct a common management test completely online and more than 1.5 lakh students benefit every year. We will also allow credit based management programs at PG level so that inter and intra operability will be possible.
The Priority Plans
We are also introducing funding for participative research to promote product innovation and process improvement in the defence sector as import substitutes to be developed in our institutes. The concept is using systems approach that a product would be disaggregated as mechanical, electrical and several other ways, each sub system developed by one institute in collaboration with a specific industry in that area and one central node integrating all subsystems to build the whole. DRDO and EME schools are expected to participate in this project. This will raise the research bar in our institutes and consequent quality improvement.
Skill building will be aggressively promoted through community college concept implemented in our polytechnics and other colleges. American, Canadian, German and British collaborations that we have for community colleges will be optimally and effectively utilised. We need a strong Industry ï¿½ interface in our institutions and a massive internationalisation. Foreign students and faculty need to be inducted into the system to promote cross cultural ideas and innovation. Even our local colleges need to encourage students admitted from different states. We all know that mediocrity will breed more mediocrity.
A Message to the Students
Education is a means for good living. Not the end. Values are very important in life and compassion for others is as important as breathing for life. Above all else, the education that we have should teach us to be good citizens. Remember you are the blessed one of a billion people.
The world today is extremely complex. We need to perform all the time or we perish. The point of the logic is contained in a thought from Africa, "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or gazelle - when the sun comes up, you'd better be running." There are multiple opportunities available today but we need to build the wisdom to weed out the wheat from the chaff.
Success and failure are the two sides of the same coin. Do not be elated with success nor be dejected with failure and after all, life is the only game where the goal post keeps shifting all the time even while the game is being played. That is what makes life challenging and interesting. (Taken from an email interaction with Sarath Syam)