on 09 September, 2013
Privatisation of Education
Establishment of Private Universities has been a major milestone in the field of higher education in India. The concept of self financed private universities, established by private players without financial assistance from the State is becoming more and more prevalent. A number of private universities have been established in various States as the Central Govt. of India has granted Deemed University status to a number of educational institutions. As it is very difficult to meet the aspirations of all the people in the field of education due to paucity of resources, it is therefore expected that the private sector can share the burden of the state in funding education.
It is said that engaging the private sector in providing quality education across primary, secondary and post-graduate levels will not only augment the government's efforts in education but significantly upgrade the quality of education and its relevance to the masses.
In India, the privatisation of education has been taking place at the school level without much resistance. On an average, the quality of education received by the children in private schools is better than the public schools. This fact has been supported by a number of surveys, researches and various competitive tests where a child from both private schools and public schools participated. School administration and management in private schools observes a very strict code. Since individuals run them, the control on the staff and faculties is very much in the hands of the administrators. In public schools, there is a lenient code as both staff members and the head of the institute are under the control of government. World Bank studies show the proportional gain in achievement score, if a randomly selected student, with the characteristics of an average public school student, attends a private rather than a public school, holding constant that student's background.
But in context of higher education the situation is completely different. There are 58 Private Universities in India as of now which are competent to award degrees as specified by UGC but only a handful of them have actually made a name for themselves. We have lots of example like IITs, IIMs, which are far better than any private college and those are also the first choice for students due to their excellent pedagogy, research facilities and better job prospects alongwith affordable fees. Private education trusts often become merely profit making business ventures with no social ideals or objectives. It is also difficult to maintain a uniform standard of education among private educational institutions since each one of them follow their own curriculum. If privatisation of education comes into conflict with the equity objective, state intervention would be desirable. It is necessary that state intervention be increased in private sector institutions to increase the quota of seats to the poor and deprived sections of the society and help in promoting human resource development to keep pace with the emerging requirements. Government institutions are thus preferred by many for undergraduate courses due to their higher standards of education.
"Apart from the big universities like Delhi University, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, etc, the standard of education in most government colleges is at best spotty. Private universities can play an important role in bridging the gap between demand and supply of quality education. Because of greater autonomy, the private brigade has more flexibility in designing innovative programmes, "including the semester system" says Dhiraj Mathur, executive director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consultancy firm.
Kiara, an undergraduate DU student says, "Privatisation in education is inevitable. In 2011 only 5000 students got admission into IITs though 3 lakh students gave the entrance. What do you expect the rest to do? Either they have to give up the stream of their choice or go to the private colleges or go abroad if they can afford it. Yes, private colleges need to lower the fees but that doesn't make privatization bad."
India with its 1,200 engineering institutions and two lakh teachers has a tremendous potential to become a global destination for technical education, particularly for students from developing nations. However, there are tens of thousands of Indian students all over the country who aren't assured of quality education not because they didn't score top marks but simply because the Indian education system cannot accommodate so many overachievers. The coveted government institutes are far too less, too little to meet the demands of the bursting population.Therefore,the bottom line is: If you are not right up there at the top of the heap, you will miss out on quality education. The other option is for parents to fork out a small fortune and send their children to universities abroad. It's an option currently only for the elite.
As of now the govt. institutes seem to have an upperhand due to their well established status but are severely limited to cater to the needs of the bursting population. Therefore, the private universities can gain a strong foot-hold in the long run. The easiest way would be by preparing a proper long term expansion plans like BITS Pilani which is supposed to be at par with some of the IIT's. Monitoring on campus living standards of students and ensuring application-oriented teaching which could give the them a good hand-on experience. Most of the private universities have the requisite infrastructure, they just lack the proper direction. The government should let the private universities compete head-on with IITs etc., in quality of entering candidates so that healthy competitive environment exists in input and output of these organizations. With the induction of bright students, revamped curriculum and a feasible fee structure many of the private universities could scale new heights in the near future.
Image Credits - Udaipur Times
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