The All India Survey on Higher Education indicates a rise in gross enrolment ratio (GER) to 25.2 per cent in 2016-17.
The target achievement is fixed at 30 per cent GER by 2020. This would mean around 40 million seats in educational institutions, thereby a further expansion of the education system either through public/private institutions.
Also, the comparison of GER of India with other nations necessitates expanding education to a bigger populace, but the equity and excellence need to be taken care.
Mere targeting for the attainment of certain GER without integrating it with requisite enablers may result in deterioration of the quality of higher education and produce educated ones possessing only certificates.
Therefore, every effort should be made to transform existing institutions as worthwhile places of learning.
Identification of core issues, which are usually ignored, need to be accorded due importance.
Population statistics show that the country will continue to be blessed with the demographic dividend for a couple of more years and for reaping its benefits, all concerned at the level of governance and education providers must take various measures to entrench young learners with a quality education.
There is no doubt that different initiatives have been taken and many are envisaged for qualitative enhancement of education being delivered to the learners but the core issues need expeditious redressal.
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The prevailing accreditation system, as well as ranking framework in the country, has made the job of identifying the areas of intervention quite easy. However, the honesty and integrity of educators engaged in the teaching-learning processes will always play a crucial role in real improvement.
Amongst different challenges impairing the quality of teaching-learning process, some of the core issues are the quality of class engagement, active learning, constructive alignment, research output, quality of educators and infrastructural support.
Quite often, the students do not find all of their theory and laboratory classes useful and go through the prescribed syllabus for the sake of merely securing good grades.
In the present age of the internet, students look for good quality learning resource available digitally for overcoming the deficiencies but the gap in self learning remains due to the absence of sufficient mentoring and hands-on experience.
Therefore, it is pertinent to improve the effectiveness of teaching in class room and laboratories in every Institution and adapt suitable assessment tools for evaluating the quantum of learning in these sessions.
There is widespread concern for redefining the prevailing education system for achievement of intended learning outcome, and efforts are being made. The accreditation process mandates for outcome-based education system, but in most of the cases these transformations are happening majorly in documentation.
In fact, every teacher irrespective of the level should assimilate the philosophy of constructive alignment and devise teaching - learning activities and their learning assessment tools focussing upon the intended learning outcomes of both declarative type and functional type.
Student perception of the very purpose of education intended by them should be brooded over by their mentors before entering into any programme.
The suitability and enthusiasm of every student should be assessed based on diagnostics for advising the appropriate program of study as per their academic preparedness along with emotional, behavioural and ethical capabilities in context to the individual’s future goal. This also needs to provide relevant infrastructural support for the change in teaching pedagogy, ample laboratory equipment and facilities for active learning along with good ambience. Sometimes there is a serious issue of shortage of teachers of requisite quality as well as the lack of involvement of the available ones in teaching-learning processes and research.
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These human resource-related issue needs to be seen holistically and corrected suitably by adapting the fair selection process for engaging the requisite number of teachers and through motivation and incentives to well performer amongst the available ones purely on merit.
Governance of the educational institutions should also be holistically evaluated for identifying the weaknesses and efforts be taken for removing impediments in fast deliveries while ensuring that the institutional leadership is entrusted to the dedicated teachers with good academic credentials purely on merit without any other consideration.
Public spending on higher education also needs to be enhanced as per the recommendations of the Kothari Commission so as to have an overall improvement of accessible education in the public sector. In view of the education being related to every member of society, sincere and honest efforts should be made for strengthening its capability to deliver good quality education for achieving the respective learning outcomes while inculcating the values of honesty and integrity in the generation Z of digital natives so that the country can harvest maximum potential from demographic dividend.
(The writer is the founder Vice Chancellor of Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur, the first non-affiliating technical University of UP. Currently, he is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur, UP)