Education Boom or Education Doom ?

In the coming college session 2008-09 of Engineering, around 10 new colleges will add to the existing 19 colleges in the state of Chattisgarh. Also the number of seats in the existing colleges will go up. That would mean around 10000 seats for engineering admissions. Similar conditions exist in other states too where day by day new colleges, technical or otherwise, are coming up. Education is the one of the biggest investment areas now in India. Big parties are pooling up their legal or illegal money and setting up colleges. Just by showing basic fulfillment of norms, they are getting approval from the AICTE too. Students getting absolutely any rank or even no rank in the state’s entrance exam can now get admission in Engineering easily. The fees of this state is more than Rs.50000 per year, not taking into account donation money for management quota seats.

The question that arises is whether this education boom is actually a boon or bane? Will it prove useful in the long run for India or will it spell out the doom of Indian technical workforce? These are the important points to be considered before deciding the answer to this question.

# The quality of education is being compromised upon. The lecturers are mostly overloaded due to increase in seats and the ideal teacher to student ratio is not adhered to in most of the private colleges. Also sufficiently trained and good teachers are few in number. (Experience doesn’t always mean he/she is a good teacher).

# Even if new colleges offer quite high salary to attract lecturers, the quality of students in such colleges is very poor. I’ve already expressed my anguish over the quality of answer sheets an examiner gets to valuate. The reason can be that students with poor ranks in entrance exam take admission in such new colleges and do not have the aptitude for technical studies.

# In colleges which are already established, the salary or the increments are not much and hence dissatisfaction affects the performance of the staff. They tend to hop colleges and thus there is a shortage of teachers in colleges, as highlighted in this article in a local supplement of Hindi daily.

# Another point mentioned in the article is that the good students go to work in various sectors and only average students are left to join the teaching profession. This is ofcourse not 100% true.

# I feel generation after generation, students (of course not all) are losing interest in self study and becoming more dependent on spoon feeding by the teachers. They are increasingly resorting to the use of unfair means in exams. They don’t complete their assignments or do them on their own. A sense of freedom or casualness comes into them once they enter college.

# The state’s technical university’s recent semester’s ( Jan – June 08 ) result has been 39%. Needless to say its very poor. The reason for this can be any of the above. But due to this the overall scenario of technical education is getting tarnished and the future of Indian workforce is being compromised upon.

I don’t think the rampant setting up of new colleges on the pretext of spreading education and making India technically strong without attention to quality (both teacher and student wise) can ever prove useful to India. The Indian educationists are just sowing seeds of a lazy, technically unsound and insincere workforce by not maintaining a benchmark for receiving and imparting technical education in the country.

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39 thoughts on “Education Boom or Education Doom ?

  1. Nice blog you have here. This is my first visit. Am looking forward to coming back again. Anyway, back to the topic. Reema, what you said about the quality of the workforce is definitely true. But, a table of marks does not make an engineer or any other degree holder proficient in their field. Only Academic qualifications are not enough for the aforementioned good-scorers. A person with enough practical knowledge is MUCH better than a person with ONLY theoretical knowledge. I say this because I too am studying engineering by obtaining a management seat. Thankfully I have now realized that companies don’t recruit people based only on their academic performance. An FCD (First Class Distinction) does not even come into picture without enough practical knowledge. And many a time than fewer, both academic proficiency and practical knowledge don’t go hand-in-hand.

    Nothing can be done about this, however. The education system should change and students must be shown that it is not only engineering that yields a good job. A job is well done only when done whole-heartedly. So think logically people. Don’t fall into the same ditch just because everyone else is doing it. Try some other ditches :P :D .

    PS: No offense meant. Just trying to hold up my side of the discussion.

  2. A friend recently wrote about a University in Delhi region. Its name was funny so I looked up the website.

    Never before have I seen a “University” advertising to fill its staff room as well as its classrooms!

    But then my regular trips to India – not to mention the experiences in the blogosphere and stories I hear from friends in HR or other roles in business – suggest that all the issues you write about are endemic to the “higher education” system. Quality is probably the core reason why privatisation in education is not always a great idea. :-( And quantity over quality is rarely a good idea in itself. It is also unclear from seeing all these institutions’ websites if there is a standardisation of curriculum, if the quality standards are clearly articulated and followed, who, if any, ensures governance and how the whole place ticks over, save for making wads of cash for promoters (not for nothing does HE get far more funding in India than K-12)..

    What all this does on the other hand is entrench the hierarchical ‘superiority’ of certain established institutions over the noobs, as far as employers are concerned.

    Very sad indeed. I wonder how we expect to keep the boom times continuing with such ‘talent’!

  3. hi Reema, accidentally I found your blog. you write anything about education problem in your country, right? I’m Indonesian and continuously I write about education in my country. keep writing I’ll visit your blog again. thank you.

  4. This is not a boom in the first place. This is pure politics. They don’t have anything left to fight and score over so they have turned to educational institutes.
    I have given up hope and I wish that, over time, the fittest will survive and the rest will perish.

  5. U’ve just told the bitter truth! i wish the head of AICTE reads this post. The short sightedness of money hungry politicos has resulted in India leading to a Technical Junkyard.
    The quality of the student doesn’t reflect in his report at all times. Actually, there cannot be a standard gauge to measure a student’s skill. So, the prime need is to perform a reality check about the situation of the world and the demand pattern for next few decades. this’ll ensure proper learning on the part of students for long term gains and a stabilised education pattern for the country. Afterall, its the future that can look promising!

  6. Excellent post Reema! These are the concerns I have raised several times on my blog (before you arrived on wordpress) and I feel passionately about them.
    You have raised the excellent point of quality vs quantity education and this is what all educationists need to be concerned with. And being a lecturer you are in the system and its great that the system has people like you!

  7. well i really believe in the words of a wise man…”everything can wait, but a child cannot”…..so how can you even imagine to compromise with the quality of education being imparted to a child.
    i think with so many institutions cropping up ( not only in field of engineering ).they are doing nothing but playing with the dreams and future of these kids! :(
    and thinking of the govt..i think its of no use! actually the govt feels insecure because it is aware of the fact that as more people get educated the more will be a threat to its existence because educated people cant be fooled so easily!
    so you pretty well get the point that why a citizen who is seven yrs or more and can read write and understand any language is considered educated!

  8. Its the population. We are so huge in number that these opportunities have to be created otherwise a huge chunk of the population will be left out without any work. But in the process we are compromising a lot and we will be seeing the results in a few years. Most of the MNCs which hire Engineers are going to face the burnt when quality workforce will not be available.
    It has already started actually.

  9. Hmmm I have too many things to say but have a constraint so will make it Short n Simple and will come later.

    Last month I was reading that the IIT which is to come up at Gandhinagar, is operational & from where? It has started in some God forsaken old govt college.

    My only thoughts when i read that were, that aren’t we compromising on quality for the sake of nos? IIT’s are a benchmark but will they remain so in near future? Lack of good profs, lack of proper infrastructure and last but tnot the least, may be a compromise on the quality of students.

    Seriously where are we leading to…

  10. Yeah … and the medical scenario is no better. Imagine tomorrows doctors coming out of those colleges where there were no profs to teach them anything! :(

    One of them might be our own physician or worse, surgeon!

  11. Good post! My MIL tells me that an M.A. topper (in political science and history)asked her, “Surely you need a visa and passport to visit Guwahati?” Supposedly she thought it is in China (or maybe Sri Lanka). That is what happens when you put quantity over quality.

    Everyone has a degree, because we worship degrees. (we also worship money, but so does the whole world) It should be like only people who want to pursue higher education and have the necessary merit should be able to go for that, and rest of the people would be better off with other vocational trainings or other jobs (and job-specific training), and anyway they will go for these jobs after getting a bunch of useless degrees on being forced by the family or society to study this or study that.

    And we should respect all honest jobs, and stop respecting ‘degrees’. A job is a job, and it is better than being idle or begging!

    “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well.”
    – Martin Luther King Jr

  12. yeah our colleges lacks quality of education . ..we learn al ot of things from schools colleges n all without knowing where to apply the whole thing in use! n another big problem that many of the schools face is what u said lack of qualified teachers!!
    our education system need a make over!!

    btw good post :)

  13. The article is very timely and interesting. Here are my opinions on some of your points:

    # Increasing the number of colleges doesn’t compromise the quality of the existing colleges; it may help some less exceptional students.

    # If a poor student is admitted s/he will do badly but this doesn’t mean only the best students deserve an education. Also, a good student might have a bad day and do badly in the entrance exam. The job market will efficiently filter out those who are incompetent.

    # If privatization is successful then over time, good lecturers will migrate from colleges with low pay to colleges with high pay. Good students will also go to those colleges. But this does need some regulation and monitoring; as you mention, it is possible for the system to go wrong.

    # The best teachers are not necessarily the most intelligent students. If privatization succeeds, the best lecturers will start drawing very good salaries. The most brilliant thinkers will contribute to research from academia or industry; some may even teach!

    # Your point about unfair means in exams is very important. Even the best institutions are not immune from cheating nowadays. There is also no sense of guilt among students who cheat; it is viewed almost as an achievement and students boast about it.

    I think you are right in saying that improving quality is more important at this point than quantity. But I wonder how. Regulation doesn’t seem to work because it is easy to get around. Privatization leads to quantity initially; to create quality you need regulation – a catch-22.

  14. Hey! This is my first visit to your blog. Interesting blog and thought provoking too. I feel that anyone who wishes to get a technical degree must be given an opportunity to fulfill his dream. So the increase in the number of seats in various states across the country reflects that and I also agree that privatizing education is one of the ways of making money. I feel that more colleges must be started but not at the cost of standards in technical education by inspections from university grants commission and AICTE.

  15. @Anniyan Welcome to my blog! Yes for proficiency in a technical field practical knowledge is necessary but theory score is necessary to even sit for campus placement or exams like GATE. Some companies do not let students with even one back in any semester appear in their campus interview. Also practical knowledge’s foundation is in knwoing the theory behind it. And I agree that there are many other fields other than engineering. Parents should not force their kids to enter this field. I too look forward to reading ur comment again :)

    @Shefaly Its true that some of the new private colleges have such weird names. At present counselling for seats is going on and such new colleges are offering all sorts of incentives to students taking admission. Its like an open market and all are trying to sell their goods. As for quality standards,some colleges are just half-constructed!! Don’t even have all the labs. What u said about the hierarchical superiority is quite true. Thanks!

    @Akumukita Welcome to my blog! I’m glad u found my blog though I dont always write about education problem in India. :) There are various topics about which I write. See u around!

  16. @Vishesh yes a serious make over!

    @Adarsh I guess thats why regularization is needed so that the not so fit ones survive and are not burnt out in such fields. And even if number of colleges increases, then make provisions quality wise to make all the students fit enough to survive the rat race.

    @Harshasrisri U have hit the point. If at all technical education is being provided on large scale make provisions for proper learning and teaching according to industry’s demands.

  17. @Nita Thanks! Our educationists need to wake up before its too late.Yes being in the system makes me see its shortcomings more clearly.

    @Arpit Its not only government that is to blame. After all parents too push their kids into doing what they dont have slightest interest in. Got the url. I will surely visit ur blog.

    @Sandeep Nice one :D :D It will be a boon if the quality is kept in mind along with the boom. I’ll check out ur post asap. :)

    @Amit U have said a good point. The education boom has to be there to make the population educated and capable of earning. But the quality is being ignored. Only till a certain point the companies would be able to filter the good ones but when mostly all students are of same level, they wont be left with any choice.

  18. @Smita U wont believe my state’s technical university is operating at a old middle school building with extensions done by asbestos sheets and plywood walls since 3 yrs!! They still dont have a campus and big infrastructure. Quality really needs to considered before India ends up with a huge but weak technical workforce.

    @Sakhi yes now greedy people who think education is a business are taking interests in setting up dental/pharmacy and medical colleges. But a medical colleges requires far more better quality of education than engineering. I hope IMA is stricter than AICTE.

    @Nomad well said. Wonderful quote.

    @Rekha yes practical education is not given that much importance whereas in technical fields practical knowledge is a must. For good teachers, firstly the teaching profession must be made a lucrative one by the employers and government. Thanks!

  19. @Armchair Guy: Welcome to my blog! As u may read the article I have put, new colleges are attracting lecturers/professors and I being a cog of the system can safely tell u there is really a dearth of teachers in technical education. So the quality of education is getting affected. What if in the long run due to less focus on quality, the incompetency is 90% in all of freshers? How will the industry filter out then? The attitude of students towards studies and honesty needs a makeover too. yes I agree its really a catch 22 situation. I guess authorities like AICTE need to really implement strictly whatever the norms they have laid out.
    Keep visiting!!

    @Ravi welcome and thanks!! yes education is everyone right but AICTE and other bodies need to stop bypassing their own rules while inspection. Keep visiting!

  20. Reema:

    Thanks! Having been closely associated with one of the so-called elite institutions (though not as a teacher), I agree whole-heartedly about the problem of finding teachers.

    The generation that finished college in the late 60s and early 70s is now retiring. Later generations suffer from the problem that many of the smart academically inclined ones have gone abroad. In the institution with which I am associated, a very significant percentage of the experienced faculty will have retired in the next 2-3 years. It is proving impossible to replace them with people of high merit. There are many qualified Indians; they are just not in India.

    While implementation of norms is essential, I think it is not enough. The central government needs to step in directly and take steps to attract the diaspora as well as retain current talent. It is good that you have chosen to stay in India!

  21. Lol, from one B’day to another. Got hold of ur blogger n saw ur b’day post (btw, belated wishes) , then came here and saw another B’day post..

  22. God! Looking at the current trend where even the percentiles of those who are in 80% to 90% not getting admissions are one such example as to where we are heading in institutionalising our education system. Atleast the new Times of India movement of Teach India should be a good initiative to atleast provide that basic education which has been lacking for quite sometime now!

  23. @Armchair Guy yes ur analysis is quite true. Oh I’ve never even considered going abroad. :)

    @Oxy Welcome to my blog!! yes its been one month now since I moved. Thanks! See u around!

    @Deeps yes I hope Teach India is a sincere effort instead of just being a PR gimmick and they succeed in their plans.

  24. Cam I just say good post and run away? After reading comments, Only thing I can say is me too feel like some of them!!!
    :) Hope u understand!!!
    Cheers

  25. Reema, your fears are well founded. In fact, I am surprised you didnt mention that some of these so called ‘universities’ have even duped their students. Parents and their wards should be extremely careful while choosing a college these days.

    But that said, keep in mind that historically (and even today) the leading universities in America have been private. Harvard, MIT, Stanford (all set up by rich businessmen for the children of the rich) etc, have never been subjected to a regulatory body and they set the bar when it comes to academic and research excellence. Academia in the US mostly regulates itself by the achievements of its alumni and its professors.

    I am not saying that many of these new ‘universities’ in India have similar lofty aims, but that by regulation we might stifle some of the better ones. Private schools in India have done better than government ones, havent they ?

  26. @Vikram Welcome to my blog!yes I did forget to mention that. Colleges just gobble up the money whereas later on the student comes to know it isn’t even recognized. The better colleges will prove their excellence even if regulations are enforced!! Traffic light doesnt hinder good drivers, does it? But atleast it proves useful to discipline the bad ones :) Keep visiting!

  27. >>> Another point mentioned in the article is that the good students go to work in various sectors and only average students are left to join the teaching profession. This is ofcourse not 100% true.

    Not 100% but quite a bit, atleast in non-autonomous private college who do not have to worry about the demand-supply.

    Still so, a very good post and nice to see a “good student” into the teaching profession by choice :)

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