Education Quality, Emerging, For-Profit, High school / Secondary 2, International, Investors, Minorities, equity, and access, Private education, Recruitment, Required, University & College - Written by on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 7:00 - 1 Comment

Bursting At The Teens: How Will India Educate 500 Million People Under 25?

by by betta design via Flickr under CreativeCommons

India is a fascinating piece in the future of education puzzle. With nearly half the 1.2 billion people under age 25, the country must find solutions to educating the growing mass of young people if it wants to continue strong GDP growth. With that many young people in the system, India’s higher education system has already maxed out. The country is trying to find solutions. The New York Times recently had a few stories explaining some of the problems in India’s higher education system. This first one (“Squeezed Out in India, Students Turn to U.S.) by Nida Najar explores how some top Indian students who can’t find a spot at schools like Delhi University are finding it easier to get into U.S. Ivy League colleges.

This summer, Delhi University issued cutoff scores at its top colleges that reached a near-impossible 100 percent in some cases. The Indian Institutes of Technology, which are spread across the country, have an acceptance rate of less than 2 percent — and that is only from a pool of roughly 500,000 who qualify to take the entrance exam, a feat that requires two years of specialized coaching after school.

“The problem is clear,” said Kapil Sibal, the government minister overseeing education in India, who studied law at Harvard. “There is a demand and supply issue. You don’t have enough quality institutions, and there are enough quality young people who want to go to only quality institutions.”

The Times piece says that Ivy League schools are more than happy to cater to the elite Indian market.

Representatives from many of the Ivy League institutions have begun making trips to India to recruit students and explore partnerships with Indian schools. Some have set up offices in India, partly aimed at attracting a wider base of students. The State Department held a United States-India higher education summit meeting on Thursday at Georgetown University to promote the partnership between the countries.

Indians are now the second-largest foreign student population in America, after the Chinese, with almost 105,000 students in the United States in the 2009-10 academic year, the last for which comprehensive figures were available. Student visa applications from India increased 20 percent in the past year, according to the American Embassy here.

Although a majority of Indian students in the United States are graduate students, undergraduate enrollment has grown by more than 20 percent in the past few years. And while wealthy Indian families have been sending their children to the best American schools for years, the idea is beginning to spread to middle-class families, for whom Delhi University has historically been the best option.

Via The New York Times


In this second story, the Times interviews Kapil Sabil, India’s minister for human resources and development about how he plans to solve the supply and demand shortage of education in his country. He touches on the role of technology in education… but we would like to hear more about that from him in the future.

What can my office do? My office can’t create colleges overnight, can it?

What we are trying to do is to expand the educational sector to allow for foreign investment to come in, allow the private sector to participate to build more quality colleges, and meet the increasing demand of the student community.

But that’s going to happen over a period of time, it can’t happen overnight.

When asked about the biggest difficulties in solving the problem and what needs to happen, he says:

To be able to expand the school sector one will need enormous investment – around $80 billion over the next five years.

Once we get the quantity in place we also want to make sure while that expansion takes place it takes place with quality. Which means you should have quality teachers in place. Which means you need to train the teachers, and have strict standards in place both in terms of pupil-teacher ratio, and structure.

Then if you use broadband and broadband wireless access, if you get that in place, along with IT content in the education sector, if all these things come together in the next five to 10 years, there will be a complete revolution in the education sector.

The Times asked him to comment on the role foreign institutions will play:

Foreign institutions will play a role but only at the higher education level. Quality institutions will come in for joint degrees, for joint programs, for twinning arrangements. And there will be a lot of foreign investment in the area of skills development: short-term certification courses, diploma courses in areas where the industry in India needs skilled workers. Lots of Indian entrepreneurs will actually be investing in the sector; I think this will be one of the most significant sectors for economic growth in the years to come.

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Dr. Mukta Mahajan
Dec 30, 2011 6:57

Use of technology in disseminating education to the farthest corner of the country is good idea but what about the infrastructure that is required on both sides- for set up of technology based teaching centers and the learners. The major problem of electricity and the money required , how can be solved?

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