India has great potential to become a developed nation by 2020 if it refocus attention on the system of Education. Education, in general, and higher education, in particular, plays a key role in the realization of India’s extraordinary potential and aspirations for economic and technological development.
India’s higher education system faces challenges on three fronts:
a. India’s GER of16% was much below the world average of 27%, as well as that of other emerging countries such as China (26%) and Brazil (36%) in 2010. The GERs for SCs, STs and OBCs are far below the average GER and those of other social groups. There is also a wide gender disparity; GER for males is 20.9 per cent while that for females is only 16.5 per cent. There are also variations in the quality of institutions and enrolments between rural and urban areas, and between developed and not so developed states.
- Faculty shortage - there is 40% and 35% shortage of faculty in state and central universities, respectively.
- Accredited institutions - 62% of universities and 90% of colleges were average or below average in 2010, on the basis of their NAAC accreditation.
- Low citation impact - India’s relative citation impact is half the world average.
• Equity : There is wide disparity in the GER of higher education across states and the Gross Attendance Ratio (GAR) in urban and rural areas, and gender- and community-wise
- Inter-state disparity - 47.9% in Delhi vs. 9% in Assam.
- Urban-rural divide - 30% in urban areas vs. 11.1% in rural areas.
- Differences across communities - 14.8% for OBCs, 11.6% for SCs, 7.7% for STs and 9.6% for Muslims.
- Gender disparity - 15.2% for females vs. 19% for males.
There are many other basic problems facing higher education in India today. These include inadequate infrastructure and facilities, large vacancies in faculty positions and poor faculty thereof, low student enrolment rate, outmoded teaching methods, declining research standards, unmotivated students, overcrowded classrooms and widespread geographic, income, gender, and ethnic imbalances. Apart from concerns relating to deteriorating standards, there is reported exploitation of students by many private providers. Ensuring equitable access to quality higher education for students coming from poor families is a major challenge. Students from poor background are put to further disadvantage since they are not academically prepared to crack highly competitive entrance examinations that have bias towards urban elite and rich students having access to private tuitions and coaching. Education in basic sciences and subjects that are not market friendly has suffered.
Research in higher education institutions is at its lowest ebb. There is an inadequate and diminishing financial support for higher education from the government and from society. Many colleges established in rural areas are non-viable, are under-enrolled and have extremely poor infrastructure and facilities with just a few teachers.
Further the higher education system requires continuous upgradation of curriculum to keep in pace with rapid growth of science and technology; globalisation and the resultant challenges from the international universities; grooming of many private institutions without any method of ensuring maintenance of quality and standard; need for adequate funding to meet the demands of various novel innovative programmes; developing a meaningful and purposeful inter-face between the universities, National Research Laboratories, industries, government and society, etc. ICT in higher education policy may not be able to completely overcome all these challenges though it may play a role in information and resource sharing.
The time now is to modernize our education system so that our country can get much more technically graduated people which can help our country to developed state. Various reforms are proposed in the education sector in order to meet these changing circumstances.
- One of the priority areas of suggestion is ‘Autonomy’ to the colleges of established track record. The autonomy debate starts with what kind of autonomy is meant for these colleges. According to the various committee reports appointed to study this matter, the first step in the process is the academic autonomy to be granted. It gives the freedom to the institutions to design the course, syllabus, examination time tables etc. To guarantee higher quality and to attain better performance in teaching and learning processes it is necessary to encourage the involvement and commitment of all those involved with the process like teachers, students and the management. Foisting of orders and command would necessarily be a factor impeding the innovation, competence and commitment of those involved in the very process and such a course for achieving excellence is therefore, undesirable.
- The present university system in India is doomed to fail as it focuses more on the administrative job than on the research and innovation. Most of the universities have more than hundred colleges affiliated to them. These colleges are by and large located far off from the universities thus the distance hindering the sharing of the resources and responsibilities like faculty, library, syllabus upgradation etc
- The following are some of the important issues relating to academic freedom
a) Understanding academic freedom: The concept of academic freedom should be further examined in the light of globalization and new challenges posed to higher education. There is need for a public debate on the inherently difficult issue of how academic freedom in Indian universities can be balanced with an equally important value of ensuring transparency and accountability within public and private institutions.
b) Academic freedom as social responsibility: Protecting academic freedom ought to be part of the social responsibility of both individuals and institutions. There are a variety of issues relating to educational policy and governance of educational institutions in which the state and its instrumentalities need to play a legitimate role.
c) The state’s role and responsibility in protecting academic freedom should not be limited to being discrete and exercising self-restraint in its possible interventions. It should also ensure that other actors, including the media, political parties and the citizenry do not by their actions undermine academic freedom.
d) Academic freedom as a human right: The importance of protecting academic freedom inevitably makes a case for recognizing that it is indeed part of the national and international human rights framework.