Role of Technology in bridging gaps for quality education across geography
Today with Indian population crossing 1.1 billion mark and over 40% of the population in the youth it is imperative for any government & society to ensure suitable development and engagement of this resource for the sustenance & development of this country.
Highlighting the significance of higher education in the modern times, the World Bank document (1994) stated, “The development of higher education is correlated with the economic development: enrolment ratios in higher education average 51% in the countries that belong to OECD, compared with 21% in middle-income countries and 6% in low-income countries”
During the period of three years from 1947 to 1950, seven new universities were founded raising the total number to 27 with 695 colleges affiliated to them. The total enrolment in these institutions of higher education was 174,000 (excluding those enrolled in Pre- University course) in 1950-51. The total number of teachers working in these institutions was a little more than 21,000. It was from this point onwards that the ‘era of massive expansion’ of higher education in our country began. During the period of 50 years since 1950-51, the growth of higher education has been phenomenal. On an average, four to five universities and 225 colleges were established annually. The total number of universities in India at present is 273 and the number of affiliated colleges is 11,831 with a total enrolment of over 77.34 lakhs. During the last fifty years, the total number of teachers in the universities and colleges has also increased to more than 3.51 lakhs. The growth rate of higher education had been as high as 13-14 % during the 1950s and 1960s, but declined to about 2-3 % during 1970s. During 1980s and the early 1990s the overall growth rate had been about 4.2%. However, at present the growth rate is around 5% per annum.
India certainly needs more engineers especially in the context of the massive investment needs in basic infrastructure including construction, power, telecommunication and manufacturing. Yet, of the estimated 300,000 engineering seats available each year, a disproportionately high number is focused on IT while a very low number is available for disciplines such as civil, material, bio-medical and industrial engineering.
The ten high growth industries / sectors in India are telecom, IT-ITES, healthcare & pharmaceuticals, banking & finance, engineering goods, real estate & construction, retail & consumer goods, tourism & hospitality, automotive and aviation & airlines. The future employment demand for these industries is estimated at 5 million and 6.5 million by 2015 and 2020 respectively. These industries will require a much higher numbers of engineering, management, business, finance, and service industry professionals.
The Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India (percent of relevant age group enrolled in higher education) is estimated at 11%.In comparison, enrollments levels are 60% in the US and 16% in China. Of India’s eligible population base of 105 million people in the age group of 20 to 24 years, roughly 11 million are enrolled in higher education. This number is expected to grow at over 5% annually, through a combination of increasing GER and growth in population.
If these trends in higher education continue, and the new supply of seats for higher education builds up at the current pace, we estimate that India would see a shortfall of 4 million seats in higher education by 2015 and 7 million by 2020.
Besides non availability of required centers of learning there is a visible shortage of suitably trained teachers who can ensure imparting of the required knowledge & skills to this future workforce. A lot of initiatives by Government have failed to address these requirements since the resource needed in the form of trainer, content & infrastructure is not available across the geographies of the country. Such facilities are also skewed to certain popular location and mass do not have access to them either due to financial constraint or limited seats.
The role of technology becomes crucial here where such facility of learning can be replicated across different regions, languages and modes in a cost effective manner. Master centers can have studios that relay live & recorded lectures with assistance from reliable modes of tele-network that can facilitate two-way communication between the central studio & learning centers. Students at multiple learning centers get standardized training and share best practices amongst each other. Centralized resource can ensure development & management of content & trainers in various subjects, which in turn can initiate a very large model of decentralized learning centers with low cost of operations at high quality of content and trainer. Technology can also assist in simulating lot of process & stages of learning through use of multi media & graphics which can further enhance the learning and retention process of the learners.
“Every society that values social justice & is anxious to improve the lot of the common man & cultivate all available talent must ensure progressive equality of opportunity to all sections of the population. This is the only guarantee for the building up of an egalitarian and human society in which the exploitation of the weak will be minimized.” (The Education Commission, GOI 1966)
by JAYENDRA SINGH
A professional holding key position in the competitive examination preparation business of a leading corporate in India. Has over 14 years of experience in Professional Education & Marketing industry. Qualified as Masters in Mass Communication & MBA in Marketing, he has worked in different capacities of Management and business development in the field of Media, Management Education & Competitive Test Preparation.