Only 11 % youth in higher education, school heads concerned

Shillong, Feb 3 (PTI) With only 11 per cent of theIndian youths enrolled in higher education, heads of variousschools today rued that higher education has lost its edge.

"Only 11 per cent of the 110 million youths of Indiain the age group of 18-24 are enrolled in higher education.

This certainly calls for a serious re-look," said E V Miranda,principal of St Edmund''s College, Shillong at a conferenceorganised by the Meghalaya College Principals'' Council (MCPC).

"Even a cursory look at the state of higher educationin India would reveal that on many counts it has lost the edgeit once enjoyed. With little innovation, thanks to the toolittle investment that has been a major bane, with itsill-devised regulatory framework, and with lack of life skillrelevant course material, higher education in India warrantssubstantial reforms," Miranda stressed.

He said entry of private operators in the domain ofhigher education has significantly altered the scenario thoughwith "certain unwarranted developments".

The issues of accessibility, quality and equity assumeimportance since education is now treated as a "purchasablecommodity", he said.

Pro-Vice Chancellor of North Eastern Hill University(NEHU) David Syiemlieh pointed out that ever since the WorldBank and IMF begun funding higher education in India, therehas been a gradual "withdrawal" of state patronage in thisfield.

"Government funding is presently large but it isdrying out and there is concern that privatisation will comeat a social cost and foster inequality," he said.

Society for Economic and Educational Developmentpresident and former UGC secretary G D Sharma said thatneither the NDA nor the present UPA regime thought ofreformulating the policy on education in spite of the factthat ground realities have significantly changed since theformulation of 1986 Policy on Education.

"The revision carried out in 1992 in the educationpolicy was marginal. In any case the situation has changedafter 1995 when world and India entered into new phase ofliberalisation of economies. Both the regimes allowed thingsto drift," he said and emphasised that on a change in policy.

Addressing the principals, 40 of whom have gatheredfrom different parts of the country, Meghalaya Governor R SMooshahary emphasised on imparting "value education" incolleges and universities.

"You should become agents of change and not producehuman machines to merely earn money but churn out men withminds," he exhorted.

The conference, which will be attended by OscarFernandes, MP and chairperson of Parliamentary StandingCommittee on Education on its concluding day tomorrow isexpected to adopt various resolutions which would be forwardedto the Union HRD ministry for consideration.

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