India, December 2015. In a recent interview, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya said that India needed a rapid expansion in its higher education systems. He said that this was more important than transformation in industrialization, and urbanization as only educated youth can face the challenges of changing times.
In the interview, he categorically stated that in an effort to transform higher education one should never ignore elementary and nursery education. Such a statement coming from the top whip of an organization that strives to transform India into a thriving and sustainable economy is very welcome at this stage.
The need for transformation in education in India at both the systemic level and the fundamental level would enable the country’s youth to gain better skills for employability and entrepreneurship. A few years ago, India was more focused on producing more and more engineers in the wake of the booming IT industry. It was however seen that most of them lacked the skills to take up IT jobs and had to get trained.
Moreover, with the IT industry going sluggish, all these engineers have to look for alternatives that would yield more jobs. So, it becomes imperative that education needs to be endowed with skill development in order to make the country’s youth employable. Apart from this, there is an emerging trend of startups that has taken India by storm. More and more youth in India want to ride the tide of entrepreneurship. While this is the scenario, there is no proper system that trains the youth in entrepreneurship, but for a few startup bootcamps.
These emerging trends have certainly established the need for transformation in Indian higher education in order to ensure that the youth of the country have better chances to succeed. Having said this, one should also have a look at the system of higher education in India. While we consider the government and private players, clearly the private players are leading in revolutionizing the system of education.
The usage of technology for imparting knowledge, and more emphasis on multidisciplinary approach are a few changes that are vivid. In the realm of nursery education, there is an emergence of many international methods of education in preschools and play schools. This has made this arena very competitive and has resulted in much better education.
The city of Hyderabad has witnessed these changes. Now, when we consider the top play schools in Hyderabad, there is a sea change in the approach. Cognitive abilities, and problem solving abilities are being taught to children in a very conducive environment sans any pressure. So, children going to play schools are properly prepared for their future journey in education.
As we consider the higher education system, the CBSE has been a forerunner in remodeling its system to suit the needs of present and the future. State boards and ICSE are not in any way lagging behind. Higher education boards have moved from being exam centric to skill centric, and this is welcome as in the past, grades have not been total representatives of skill and employability.
Though they are lesser in number when compared to others, ICSE Schools in Hyderabad have contributed a lot to the transformation referred to by Mr. Arvind Panagariya. They have done this with elan. The all India pass percentage is 98.49%, and they have achieved this along with a lot of emphasis on skill development.
There is ongoing work, but there is also a bridge that separates the expectations and the achievements. Higher education boards have to be thought leaders and spearhead the transformation of young India into a vital entity.