Education Reforms in Bharat

While Bharat ranks 130 out of 189 countries in HDI Index in 2018, its global education ranking is 92 out of 145 countries. Twenty-five Bharatiya institutions figure in the 2019 ranking of top 200 in 43 emerging economic countries – seven more than the number that figured in last year’s table, according to data released by Times Higher Education (THE) in January, 2019. 

However, Bharat did not feature in the top 300 World University Rankings 2020 list by Times Higher Education (THE) released in September, 2019. In the past few years, Bharat had been the fifth most-represented nation and this is the first time since 2012 that Bharat dropped out of the top 300 list. Eighth annual All India Survey on Higher Education 2018-19 released in September, 2019 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development disclose the following data-

  • 90.92 lakh degrees are awarded every year in our higher education system. 
  • About 65 lakh students out of the above are under graduates.
  • Less than 2 lakh MPhil/ PhD degree holders are produced annually who have some research skills. 
  • 3.74 crore students are enrolled in higher education including 0.40 crore students who are doing distance education. 
  • The students who are enrolled in higher education constitute only 26 percent of our country’s population aged between 18 and 23 years. 
  • Nearly 49 per cent of students enrolled in higher education are women. 

Unemployment and Employable Graduates

Survey on unemployment by CMIE in its latest report for May- August 2019 reveals the unemployment rate has risen from 7.03 percent in May to 8.19 percent at the end of August 2019. This is much above the current global average of 4.95 percent as estimated by the International Labour Organisation.

According to CMIE, there are 10 Crore graduates in the country and 6.3 Crore out of them are in the labour force i.e. willing and available for work. Of these, 5.35 Crore have some kind of employment and the balance 94 lakh graduates (or with higher degree) are unemployed. That means nearly one- sixth of the highly educated youth are unemployed. The rate of unemployment among men and women is 6.1 percent and 17.6 percent respectively. Therefore, we are adding every year one crore educated (with degrees from higher education) people to the pool of unemployment. 

Only 47.38 percent Bharatiya graduates are employable according to India Skills Report, 2019. While 57.90 per cent BE/ BTech are employable, only 36.44 percent MBAs are employable. 

Right To Education Act was passed in August, 2009 in Bharat making it free and compulsory education to the children between 6 to 14 years group. This Act is in line with the Article 21 A of the Bharatiya Constitution which says it is the fundamental right of every child between 6 to 14 years to get educated.

Since education comes under the concurrent list of the constitution, both centre and the states can pass legislation in Bharat. Literacy rate among children aged between 7-18 years in 2011 stood at 88.3%. At the primary level, 1291 Lakh students were enrolled in 2015-16. The enrolment figures for Upper primary, Secondary and Senior Secondary are 676 lakh, 391 lakh and 247 lakh respectively for 2014-15. 

Average Annual Dropout Rate in School Education

Classes/ Year 

Primary  Upper primary  Secondary 

Boys 

Girls  Total  Boys  Girls  Total  Boys  Girls 

Total 

2012-13* 4.68 4.66  4.67 2.30 4.01 3.13 14.54 14.54 14.54
2013-14* 4.53 4.14 4.34 3.09 4.49 3.77 17.93 17.79 17.86
2014-15  4.36 3.88 4.13 3.49 4.60 4.03 17.21 16.88 17.06

(Source: Educational Statistics at a glance 2016, School Education in India:U-DISE2015-16. *Figures related to School Education are provisional)

As the above data indicates there is a dire need to address the issue of large dropout rate in secondary education in Bharat.

Vocational Education

Only 18 percent of the students undergoing vocational education courses get jobs in Bharat out of which formal jobs are just 7 percent, according to Team Lease Services’ research “Industry opportunity based vocational course design”.

The survey also says in fact, around 70 percent employers feel the quality of training provided by the vocational institutes is not up to the mark. The survey further says around 72 percent employers said employability was considerably low among candidates who are from the vocational education stream. 

Bharat has three major challenges-

    1. Increasing the percentage of population aged between 18 and 23 who opt for higher education from the current 26 percent, 
    2. Improving the employability of the graduates 
    3. Providing jobs to the employable graduates.

Thrust on vocational education and greater inter action between the Academia-Industry to improve the employability of the educated youth are two key areas to be focused to enhance the quality of education system in Bharat. In order to focus on skill development and entrepreneurship, the government of Bharat has created a separate Ministry for Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) in November, 2014.

National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) set up under this ministry has so far trained 5.2 million students and introduced vocational training in 10 states that has benefited 2.5 lakh students. However, there is a need for greater collaboration between NSDC, District Industries Centres (DICs), Rural Development and Self Employment Training Institutes (RUDSETs), lead banks of the districts and the private sector in order to encourage the youth towards self employment and entrepreneurship.

Increased collaborative activities between the ministries of MSME and MSDE by roping in IRDA (Integrated Rural Development Authority) at various districts can result in creating more self employment and encourage budding entrepreneurs in rural areas. Bharat can learn from Finland where around 40 percent of students start vocational education after basic level and emulate the best practices.

Universities should have the freedom to not only design the academic curriculum but also change the same with greater flexibility in line with the market demand compared to the current practice. Universities should also introduce couple of contemporary subjects mid way during the degree course as optional so that the students can have option to choose those subjects as per the market demand.

All graduation courses should compulsorily have an internship of six months to bridge the gap between the academia-industry and improve the skill sets of the students during their graduation. This requires active participation of the industry in their collaborative efforts with universities. When the students are on internship for six months as suggested above, during that period the faculty should be encouraged to take up consulting assignments in industry which will give better industry exposure to the faculty.

These measures will certainly bridge the gap between the academia-industry to a larger extent and make both the faculty and the students to be more industry oriented in their approach. 

With effect from January, 2019, Bharatiya government has increased the stipend for junior research fellows (JRF) in the first two years of PhD programme from Rs. 25,000 per month to Rs. 31,000 per month. The stipend for senior PhD research fellows was hiked to Rs 35,000 from Rs 28,000 per month. Scientists working on R&D projects as research associates have also received a substantial 30-35 percent hike in financial assistance.

UGC has started a dedicated Consortium for Academic and Research Ethics (CARE) to improve the quality of research and promote high quality publications in Bharat. Finnish colleges are divided into (i) universities and (ii) universities of applied sciences. While Universities focus on scientific research, Universities of applied sciences emphasize practical applications.

Bharat can think of having a structured set up within the universities to have two separate streams in the research viz., scientific research and applied sciences so that both these streams will gain equal importance in research. 

Out of box thinking

Top 10 loss making CPSEs (Central Public Sector Enterprises) constitute 84.71% of the total losses of 71 loss making CPSEs in Bharat during 2017-18.

List of Top 10 Loss Making CPSEs in 2017-18

The government can also think of introducing a subject on revival of sick industries for the management students in universities and make long term project work in loss making PSUs as part of the curriculum. The faculty of the universities can also take up consultancy assignments to suggest strategies for turnaround of the loss making PSUs and actively involve their students in this exercise. 

This will go a long way in reducing the gap between the University and Industry and improve the employability of the students of the universities. Needless to mention, these initiatives require a collaborative approach by the Centre and the states and let us hope they will take the right steps in this direction at an early date.


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About the Author

B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]