Me­di­ocrity Rules

Poor rankings of In­dian var­si­ties ex­em­plify the rot in ed­u­ca­tion

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - An Epiphany Of Ideas -

Once again ex­em­pli­fy­ing the lack­lus­tre qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion in the coun­try, no In­dian univer­sity has fea­tured in the top 300 in the lat­est Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion World Univer­sity Rankings. In fact, In­dian higher ed­u­ca­tion ap­pears to have re­ceded with the high­est ranked In­dian var­sity – IISc Ban­ga­lore – fall­ing from the 251300 bracket to the 301-350 cat­e­gory. Although the to­tal number of In­dian en­tries went up from 49 to 56 this year in the over­all 1,300-univer­sity list, only six uni­ver­si­ties made it to the 300 to 500 rankings.

In con­trast, China has seven of its uni­ver­si­ties in the top 200 and its Ts­inghua Univer­sity – ranked 23 – is the high­est ranked Asian univer­sity. This is the re­sult of China’s fo­cussed and sus­tained in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion. In­ter­est­ingly, de­spite be­ing a com­mu­nist regime, China re­alised the im­por­tance of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion in na­tion-build­ing and moved to im­ple­ment global best prac­tices for its uni­ver­si­ties. In­dia, how­ever, con­tin­ues to view ed­u­ca­tion through the prism of pa­tron­age. This has en­abled a highly bu­reau­cratic set-up that al­lows lit­tle au­ton­omy to uni­ver­si­ties. Ad­di­tion­ally, In­dia’s so­cial­ist streak has hand­i­capped higher ed­u­ca­tion through in­stru­ments such as reser­va­tions and deep sus­pi­cion of for­eign in­vest­ments in the sec­tor.

Un­til this ten­dency to mi­cro­man­age is dis­carded things will only go from bad to worse. For mer­i­toc­racy to flour­ish, a shift has to be made from con­trol to mar­ket-ori­ented stan­dards and in­de­pen­dent ac­cred­i­ta­tion. Gov­ern­ment must know that it can’t man­date qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional institutes by fiat. If it is un­able to drop heavy reg­u­la­tions for po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, an al­ter­na­tive ap­proach would be to set up spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion zones free of them, and in­vite top for­eign uni­ver­si­ties to set up there. This will lead to com­pe­ti­tion among var­si­ties and raise over­all stan­dards. Oth­er­wise, lack­ing em­ploy­able skills, In­dia’s de­mo­graphic div­i­dend is bound to turn into a de­mo­graphic time bomb – a process that has al­ready be­gun.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.