Making education opportunities accessible to all
As part of their larger ambition of increasing the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in Higher Education from 19% to 30% by the year 2020, the Government of India has over the past few years facilitated and approved the setting up of a number of higher education institutions, including IIT’s and IIMs across the country. In the same period AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) alone has reported147 MBA courses offered by engineering colleges and standalone B-schools in India, seeking permission for closure in 2014. In the three years between 2010-13 an average of over 100 colleges have sought permission for closure each years. Many of these colleges have sought closure as poor enrolments have made it difficult to sustain operations.
At a time when Government is seeking to increase enrolments - colleges seeking closure of operations or courses reflects a clear mismatch between the eco system need and the ground reality. No doubt the mismatch is not just in capacity creation but also in quality and relevance of courses offered.
It is clear that besides increasing the number of Higher Ed Institutions in the country, it is important to improve utilization of existing capacity within the Higher Ed space. This can only be done through sustained push in making the curriculum industry/ environment relevant and in promoting or supporting measures for increase in enrolments in colleges/ institutes across the country.
To facilitate increase in enrolments it is important that reliable information on education opportunities is available. The gap in this area needs to be bridged not only by aggregation of information but also by making it possible for Education Institutions to present information on opportunities reliably and in ways that prospective students can easily access and engage.
Given the vast geographical spread of the country, the limited resources available and wide differences in institutional capacity the only real way in which this can happen is to use technology effectively. The need of the hour is to facilitate cost effective adoption of technology in ways that information on education opportunities is easily available to all. While information aggregators is one way, empowering education institutions with the wherewithal to create an effective web presence and update it regularly and reliably is probably one critical step in this direction.
Education is the foundation of society, its values, culture and progress. Our endeavor should be to impart the same quality of education to every child in India, irrespective of her background, and, for that, to happen we should think of smart ways to leverage technology to impart education.