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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Could India’s poor school education system really stall its potential economic progress?

Could education be one of the four horsemen of India’s potential economic apocalypse?

In Chapter 5 of this year’s Economic Survey, tabled in Parliament on Monday, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian lists four factors that could stall India’s push to catch up with the world’s developed economies. One factor is the creation of human capital, or, in the survey’s definition, people capable of doing the jobs on offer.

Here is how it stands: around 40% of children in Classes 3 to 8 cannot complete a reading or subtraction test prescribed for Class 2, with more children in higher classes capable of doing the test than those in lower classes. This means that children are learning, but they are not learning more as they should moving up the classes. The gap between what they know and what they should know is already wide. With technological advances this gap will widen, leaving them unable to take the jobs that advances in technology bring.

All of this is already well known. No one will contest that India’s school system – public and private – is failing its young. That a solid basic education is a necessary condition for accessing all types of opportunities, and especially higher education, is also uncontested. But there seems to be some demand-supply confusion over education and jobs.

While a great deal is said about the unemployability of Indian school-leavers and even graduates, it really is nothing more than hand-wringing. There is no evidence to suggest that investors have been stymied by the lack of prospective employees.

Remember that engineers and engineering degrees did not precede bridge-building or manufacturing. They followed it. The engineering college boom in India in the last two decades too was driven by a low-value-added computer industry. Higher education produced what industry demanded.

The school education system in India is in dire need of reform. And the question economists should be asking is this: why is it that education reforms have thus far failed to grapple with issues of equity (a corollary of quality) and what economic interests underpin the persistence of educational disparities?

India and Oman agreed to cooperate in the tourism and educational sectors

Muscat: India and Oman on Monday agreed to cooperate in the tourism and educational sectors. Both countries agreed to expand the cultural cooperation, including through regular exchange of cultural troupes and holding of cultural festivals. The two sides underlined the importance of cooperation in education, including higher education, and agreed to take initiatives to encourage students from each other's countries to join their higher educational institutions.

Oman sought India's support in encouraging India's engineering, management and Information Technology (IT) institutions to collaborate with Omani educational institutions. The two countries expressed satisfaction at the growing tourism exchanges and welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in Tourism, which will contribute in expanding the cooperation between the two countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked the King of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said for ensuring continued welfare of the Indian community. He expressed his appreciation of the Omani Sultanate's policy of allowing Indian community in Oman to practice their faith and celebrate their religious and cultural festivals. The two sides welcomed the signing of an agreement on the mutual exemption of visa requirement for holders of diplomatic, official, special and service passports during the visit. Oman also congratulated Prime Minister Modi's initiative in the declaration of June 21 as International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014. It also appreciated India's efforts in making yoga popular in the world, which is aimed at creating a healthy and peaceful world.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The education in reservation and employment promotion in government jobs

Kolhapur: Hundreds of youths made their demands for reservation in education and employment, promotion in government jobs and quick action in the Kopardi case abundantly clear by joining the silent march in Kolhapur on Saturday.

The Maratha Kranti Muk Morcha started simultaneously from two places in the city - Gandhi Maidan and Tararani chowk - around 11am. Since early morning, thousands of youths from the community gathered at the two starting points, filling the locations to the bring.

"The state has been witnessing rallies for strong action against the accused in the Kopardi rape case. The rally is our support for the victim's family," said Vanita Ghatage, who had joined the rally at Gandhi maidan.

Many youths spoke about the hardships they experience in the absence of reservation for the community in education and jobs. Raj Shinde, who is pursuing engineering degree, rued that they have to pay higher fees for professional courses compared to other students. "The fees for professional courses such as engineering are beyond our capacity. There is no reservation for Marathas in the government sector and we are deprived of jobs," he said.

Dipti Shinde, a medical professional from the Maratha community, said she had seen even her juniors at government hospital get permanent employment because they belonged to a particular caste. "I have been working in government hospital for last two years. Many of juniors from other castes got the permanent job, while I am still working on contractual system. The reservation should be given on the basis of economic status instead of caste," she said.

Youth also said that there should not be any reservation in the promotions given in a government job. They voiced their demand for the skill development institute for their community on the lines of the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Reserch and Training Institute (BARTI).

"We have to face problems in promotions in government jobs. There should not be any reservation in promotions, rather they should be merit based," said Nilesh Patil, a youth who came to the city just for the rally.

Growing agrarian crisis in the state has also prompted concerns as the community is largely dependent on agriculture. Indrajit Khardekar, a young farmer from Danoli Jaysingpur village, said the government should be provided the Minimum Support Prise (MSP) to agricultural goods.

"The agricultural sector is in crisis. The Maratha community depends on agriculture for its livelihood. The government should implement the recommendations of Swaminathan commission to make farming sustainable," he said.

India is a very prominent learner market coursera adds 60k learners a month from online learning

Coursera Chief Business Officer Nikhil Sinha, who was in the city recently, told DH that a quarter of its Indian learners are interested in technology skills (Computer Science courses).

“Technology and Data Science are the top two areas that are in demand in India, and they are followed by business. India is a very prominent learner market for us because of the combination of a young population with significant aspirations, and where education is the most important mechanism for social mobility, and where there is a large English-speaking workforce, and where people are willing to invest in education,” he said, adding that 20% of Coursera’s users learn only on mobile.

Coursera partners with top universities and organisations worldwide, to offer courses online for anyone to take. Recently, it entered into a partnership with Manipal Global Education Services (MaGE) to offer curated educational content to Manipal Global’s over 1.5 million active learners and alumni community.

Coursera, which has 200 employees inclusive of 100 engineers, has over 22 million registered learners worldwide.

“Three-quarters of learners are from outside the US (76%), and nearly half are from emerging markets (44%). We partner with 146 of the world’s best universities and make their content available on our platform. Our university partners include Universities like Pennsylvania, Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, and California, among others,” he said. Coursera offers over 1,500 courses and 150 specialisations.

When asked about its largest market, Sinha said, “The largest market is the US with nearly 25% learner base, followed by India and then China. In addition to 22 million learners today, we add half-a-million learners every month to our platform.”

Though Coursera began by making content available to anyone and anywhere in the world, recently it has launched a new business line — Coursera for Business.

“It is our first enterprise platform for workforce development at scale. Here, we take the content available on our platform, provide a number of services around it, and make them available to companies. Axis Bank is our first enterprise customer in India,” he said.
DH News Service

“We are planning to target more such organisations, and we will be announcing many new deals in the next few weeks.”

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The traditional practice of more students opting for computer engineering is slowly fading by mechanical engineering

India is looking at a change of trend as far as the engineering discipline is concerned. The traditional practice of more students opting for computer engineering is slowly fading out and is being replaced by mechanical engineering.

An analysis of the data available with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the government body that is responsible for technical education in the country shows that the number of enrolments in Computer Science as a subject has been on a constant decline since the year 2012. The data also shows that enrolment of for Mechanical is going upward.In the last four years, enrolment in Mechanical has been the highest in the academic year 2013-14 at 534199, in the same year number of students enrolled in Computer science was 323697 and the number has shown a decline in the consecutive years.

With the increase in number of enrolment, number of student intake in these two disciplines has also shown a variation. The number of intake in Mechanical courses in various colleges across the country increased by two lakh from 2012-13 to 2015-16.

Officials in the government attribute it to the global trends of reducing demand for computer science engineering graduates.

"The IT industry was booming sometime back and more and more students were pursuing computer science but now the industry is saturated. There is more supply than demand of IT professionals in the industry which is the reason that students are moving towards other fields of engineering," said a senior HRD Ministry official, associated with technical education.

"Also, one does not need to study computer science engineering to pursue IT. Everyone is studying computers. If 100 people develop a software, only three people are required to maintain it, which reduces the demand for manpower. On the contrary, Mechanical is a field where one needs subject expertise to be able to work in the field," he added.

In terms of placement also, Mechanical has shown an increase in numbers over the last four years. In the academic session 2015-16 139162 students were placed as compared to around 95000 in 2012-13.

The least popular choices among students are Chemical and Textile engineering, even as engineering as a subject continues to be the top choice for students among professional courses like Management and Pharmacy.

The latest government statistics every two in five elementary schools in India

India’s dream to win gold medals in Olympic Games seems to be far-fetched considering the ground reality. According to latest government statistics, every two in five elementary schools in India don't have playground and power connection, two of the 10 basic norms mandated under the Right to Education Act (RTE).

The initial findings of the latest pan-India survey (called as District Information System for Education or DISE) released this week highlights such a sorry state of affairs of world's largest education system. The survey covered 1.5 million elementary schools in 680 districts across the states catering to 19 crore children.With 40 per cent educational institutions, private and government both, having zero outdoor sports facilities, one can imagine the scale and magnitude of the sports talent India is losing every year. The revelations also cast aspersions over physical fitness of crores of children in the country which is aggressively campaigning for Yoga and Surya Namaskar across the world.

Bihar appears to be worst in the country, where only one-third schools in the state have playground and less than 8 per cent have electricity, say records. West Bengal also cuts a sorry figure with only 40 per cent schools offering playground and less than 13 per cent have electricity, finds the DISE survey conducted by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA).

Almost all the schools in Gujarat have electricity suggesting better classroom conditions for the kids and teachers compared to their counterparts in most states, but many of them are not able to play outdoors. One in every four schools in Gujarat don't have playground.

Maharashtra which has over one lakh elementary schools catering to 1.6 crore pupils appears to be far better than many states. Over 87 per cent institutions in the state do have playground and 94 per cent have power too.

Punjab stands out in the survey, suggesting more focus on sports and physical well-being of the children apart from education. An overwhelming 97 per cent schools in the state have playground facility and 99.9 per cent have electricity as well.

The analysis of last few years' data also suggests that schools have improved fast over the years, bridging gap of separate toilet facilities, drinking water and pupil-teacher ratio and ramp for specially-abled. However, acquiring playground, constructing boundary wall, power connection and computers has remained slow, owing to physical and financial constraints.

A recent study of Indian parliamentary panel has suggested that even for those children who participate in games, the sports are not their first career choice because of high risk, uncertainty and low rewards.

When it comes to spending on sportspersons, India is much below. The US spends a whopping Rs22 a day per person, the UK spends 50 paise and Jamaica 19 paise. India invests just 3 paise per person each day.

"Several schools in Mumbai including BMC schools don't have playground. The kids are supposed to exercise inside the classroom. One can imagine the kind of physical fitness such students have," said Ramesh Joshi, president of BMC school teachers Association.

"While medal winning countries focus on early training, high technology, state-of-the-art equipment, sports medicine, we are not even allowing such a large number of kids to play. Lack of sports not only compromises on their growth and fitness, physically and mentally both, but they also lose out on other crucial life skills such as team building, leadership, managing their own anger and failures and communication skill," said a former hockey player.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

President Pranab Mukherjee in education can be expanded without compromising qualit good educational institutions

President Pranab Mukherjee Monday said education cover can be expanded without compromising on quality as he expressed hope that the outward flow of students from India can be reversed.

Speaking at the 60th Founders Day ceremony of Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, he expressed “shock” on learning from Delhi’s education minister that a large number of students cannot read text books. It is pathetic, he said.“Education can be expanded without compromising quality… We have so many good educational institutions. Still in the list of top 100 institutions of the world rated by top international agencies no Indian university or institution has found a place,” he said, adding that change had started and IIT-Delhi and IISC, Bengalore, found a place among the leading global institutions.

The President said that he is confident that many Indian institutions will be among the top in the time to come, as he recalled that ancient India led the world in higher education while referring to Taxila and Nalanda.

“Almost 1700 years, starting from year 6 century BC to 11 century AD, from the glorious days of Taxila to the collapse of Nalanda, India led higher education in the world. Taxila became the conclave of four civilisations; Greek, Chinese, Persian and Indian.

Read: Top jobs that Indians prefer and why

“I feel pained that every year more than 6,000 students leave India for higher education to Europe, Australia and North America…I want the flow to be reversed. That will depend on the type of education provided,” he said.

Madhya Pradesh Governor O P Kohli, Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar and Madhavi Raje Scindia, President of the school’s Board of Governors, were among those present on the occasion.

Stressing that education is the alchemy that can take India to its next golden age, Mukherjee called upon teachers and students to work towards the democratisation of quality education.

He said education and learning are a lifelong process, and quoting Swami Vivekananda, added, “Education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion; is it worth the name?….”

Read: Lots of today’s jobs will not exist in future: Nilekani

The President also praised Vijaya Raje Scindia, the late BJP leader, for the vision and courage of establishing an educational institution exclusively for girls at a time when the national literacy rate among women was around 10 per cent.

He also congratulated the Board of Governors of the school and expressed hope that the high standard set by its founders would be upheld in the future too, according to an official statement.

Earlier, Governor O P Kohli called for maintaining a balance between modern and traditional values of the country in imparting education.

He said that while intellectual efficiency was important, equally important was emotional efficiency in a person.

Read: Housing for students in Delhi: Without a hostel seat, what some students have been forced to do

“In the urge to become modern, we should not forget our rich traditions and heritage. Spirituality and religion form part of the country’s traditions and we should follow them also while seeking modern education,” he said.

Kohli said one can achieve intellectual efficiency by becoming modern, but one is not complete without getting emotional efficiency and sensitivity.

He also called for providing “man-making” education as Swami Vivekananda had sought.

President Mukhrejee said: “As education is the alchemy of change in this society, it is needed that it should be democratised but democratisation does not mean mere mindless physical expansion.”

“Expansion of education can take place without compromising on its quality,” he said.

The education of scheduled caste community to invest in Launch corporation to fund

DHARWAD: Chairman of the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research (ICSSR) Sukhdev Thorat has stated that the government should for a finance corporation to provide higher education loans at nil interest rate to poor students, like the practice in Australia and Canada.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the conference on "Creating Better World: Dr B R Ambedkar's Vision and Prospective", he said that the Scheduled Caste community continues to be oppressed and a separate finance corporation would eliminate poverty among them. "Through the finance corporation, loans should be given to help the Scheduled Caste community to invest in shares of private companies so that they get a decent annual income," he said.

"Due to lack of higher education and capital, the SCs don't have access to entrepreneurship, and eventually they end up working as labourers and suffer discrimination," he said.

The policymakers should come up with new measures to ensure better living standard of the Scheduled Caste community by providing them land for farming and dairy business, Thorat said.

He said that it is unfortunate that Ambedkar was tagged as a dalit leader. "In reality, he was also a nation builder and has left his footprints in almost all the sectors. The Damodar Valley and Hirakud Valley hydro-power projects were the brainchild of Dr Ambedkar. Setting up of the Reserve Bank of India and Central Water Commission too were the important projects which were realized due to the efforts of Dr Ambedkar," he said.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Mahatma Gandhi devoted time and energy to evolve a model of education that would suit its people india

Equality of access and success in education emerged as the most professed objective of the developing countries. In India, Mahatma Gandhi devoted time and energy to evolve a model of education that would suit its people. He completed his initial education from a school which was open to children from every strata of society. His sojourn to the UK made him realise the importance of universalisation of education, which reflected in the Hind Swaraj in 1909. He not only conceptualised basic education, later buniyadi talim, but also put it to practice. After Independence, India ignored his approach and persisted with the transplanted alien system designed for a few. Expectedly, it collapsed when extended to all.

So it’s amazing when comparisons are made with countries like Finland or desires are expressed to borrow their system. Indian practices such as teacher absenteeism or proxy teachers would appear unbelievable to teachers in Finland. They would be shocked to know that teacher-taught ratio could be 1:100 or more in thousand of schools here, and that around a million para teachers work on a pittance of an honorarium. They may never have heard of degrees, particularly of teacher education, being purchased. The average teacher-taught ratio in India was 40.6 in 1971 as against 16.2 in Finland. While it stood at 13.2 in 2013 in Finland, it was 42.9 in 2011 in India.

Finland is proud of its teacher preparedness, which is scientific and exhaustive, with provisions for renewal and updating of the content and pedagogy. Finnish society treats its teachers on par with medical and technical professions. Admission procedures to teacher education institutions are rigorous and selective.

Is it possible to talk of Finland without realising that India ranks 143 as against No. 6 of Finland in the first annual assessment of sustainable development goals on health performance report released recently? There are other hidden but universally known elements as well that have contributed to the decline of quality in the Indian education system. Is India proud of its teacher preparation institutions? One is not aware of any intensive reform programme to alter the quality of teacher preparation and ensure that it is no more a last resort to the disinterested.India participated in the multi-country Programme of International School Assessment, a survey to compare learning achievements launched around 2002. It was placed at 72 in a total ranking of 73 countries. India withdrew participation in the next phase. In the 2012 rankings Finland is placed best in Europe. Every school there is open to every child, no eclecticism. Hence, they get full support from the state and the parents and community. There are no schools without drinking water or functional toilets. Electricity is not disconnected because of non-payment of dues. Schools there also provide affiliated services such as daily meals, health care, psychological counselling, facilities for sports and games. Children in India who require additional learning support are ignored, often leading them to drop out. Finland provides extra teachers for such children.

But there is a way out. Instead of Finland study tours, study the philosophies of Swami Dayananda, Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, B R Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Gurudev Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi et al. Tangible alternatives would emerge, which should be implemented with integrity. Gandhiji succeeded because he heeded the advice of great Gopal Krishna Gokhale to understand India. Others too can if they strive to understand India and Indians.

Higher Education Fair organised in New Delhi by the European Union Delegation to India

Around 125 exhibitors including universities of global ranking, embassies and higher educational institutions from 26 European Union (EU) Member States attended the two day European Higher Education Fair organised in New Delhi by the European Union Delegation to India with nearly 100 globally renowned European higher education institutions.

The fair was inaugurated on Friday by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs M J Akbar and was attended by Member Secretary AICTE Dr. A P Mittal and European Union Ambassador to India Tomasz Kozlowski along with other leaders.

What else is making news?The fair reaches out to Indian students looking to study abroad and showcases what Europe has to offer in terms of high quality and diversity of English-taught post-graduate and Ph.D. courses.Speaking on the EU-India knowledge sharing collaboration, M J Akbar said, “This partnership bridges the knowledge centres of India and Europe. We are delighted that our works of knowledge are reaching each other. Students are travelling beyond to seek and spread the treasure of information. Through such initiatives together we create prosperity which would reduce economic disparity in society.  I hope this celebration of knowledge becomes the pathway to a new, exciting and co-operative future”.

On his part, Kozlowski said, “The EU and India have forged strong bonds of cooperation in the field of education in recent decades. The recent EU-India Summit in Brussels underlined higher education as an important area of cooperation and through this fair we aim to enhance educational opportunities for Indian students.”

Read: Top jobs that Indians prefer and why

The fair also provides a platform to Indian Students to explore scholarship opportunities available for studying in Europe, funded by the EU and Member States.

More than 4,000 Indian students have benefited from Erasmus grants to study in Europe in recent years and about 1,700 grants were given to Indian researchers under the ‘Marie Sklodowska-Curie’ scholarships to teach and research in Europe.