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Learning unlocks all doors

Newsletter Issue 28 : December 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009

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India Eco Summit: 'Industry must help in skill building'

By Kirtika Suneja

Business Standard November 10, 2009, 0:53 IST

Just over a10th of school-going children in India end up attending college.

With nearly two-thirds of India’s population under the age of 35, India has the world’s largest pool of young people. However, of the 220 million school going students, only 26 million go to college. So, creating the critical mass to build world-class institutions is the main problem that India faces in building world-class education.

“We need to increase the number of students going to college incrementally and also develop the infrastructure to do so. The total number of young people employed is around 509 million. So, we expect the industry to collaborate with us for skill development,” said Union Education Minister Kapil Sibal.

By opening the higher education system to players outside India, the country would collaborate with foreign education providers to build world class universities.

Sibal said that the economic growth of any country depends on its human resource and that the college going population in the US is 63 per cent and more than 50 per cent in Europe. However, this number stands at 12.4 per cent in India.

Rajendra S Pawar, Chairman of the NIIT Group pointed out three defects in the Indian education system that are hampering its growth. “Structural rigidities and disconnections discourage mobility in education. Second, government is the deliverer and regulator of education and there is an absence of market principles that match demand and supply. The third defect relates to funding as there is a large amount of government funding, some amount of philanthropic funding and less amount of private funding,” noted Pawar.

However, the minister stated that the Indian education sector is not ready for the market dependence of education as the country can’t wind up education institutes becasue the stock markets crash.

Educomp Solutions’ MD, Shantanu Prakash said that both skills development and vocational development are imperative for the Indian education sector as universal access to higher education is our goal. “Both money and political will are available today and we must harness the intellectual capital of dtudents and teachers. In fact, we can have special economic zones for education where the laws of capacity and price control can be relaxed in building world class institutions,” Prakash said.

On this, Sibal explained that education providers can't earn money from fees paid by students and also, they should be allowed to make surpluses. “We need to create world class institutions which will allow flexibility in student communities,cross fertilisation of disciplines and transparency. However, this will follow after we set the school system right,” he added.