IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 5th September, 2016
TOPIC:General Studies 2
Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
The state of education in India
This article aims to highlight the existing condition of
Primary and Higher education in India
Challenges and solutions
In India and around the world, there existed a tradition of home or community schooling, often centered on the teacher.
However, since industrial revolution, there has been a visible gradual transformation from teacher centered schooling to educational institution centered human supply chain schooling system.
Moving towards the informational age, the world is now thinking about what should be the next transformation in education, whereasIndia is still battling older challenges.
Primary education in India
The 20th century challenge still remains the current challenge of Indian educationà quantity and quality of its primary and higher education systems.
After more than 50 years of independence, India realised the deficit of primary schools.
Since then, the quantity problem in primary education is being tackled. (increasing enrolment in primary schools pan-India through RTE)
Pratham’s Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has been a consistent and reliable source of information on the quantity and quality of primary education in India.
It is conducted annually since 2004 and covers more than 90% of India’s districts.
Enrolment- from 2006 to 2014, there is a decline in children not enrolled from about 4% at the beginning of the period to about 2% now.
Private schooling- the children have increased from 20% to a little over 30% over the period from 2006-2014.
Education quality- Quality of reading, arithmetic and English are disturbing.
For example- children in Class III who can read at least a Class I text has dropped consistently from about 50% to about 40% and children in Class III who can do at least subtraction has dropped from 40% to 25%.
Private schools are doing better than government but there still exists room of improvement
There is significant variation among states in both quantity and quality.
The basic problems pertaining to primary schooling, whether rural or urban areas are-
Inadequate inputs- lack adequate infrastructure, shortage of teachersand poor quality of institutional support for teachers’ professional development.
Low learning levels-the focus is on completing curriculum and not structured education. The result is children of higher standards are not able to even understand lower class books.
Increased dropout rates- only about 25% of the children who enrol in primary education pass fifth grade.
Teaching by level- instead of grading child’s education on age-basis, there should be promotion to next class on level of learning.
Building basic skills-to invest and encourage in learning foundational skills like reading, writing, critical thinking, arithmetic and problem-solving in durable way.
Public declaration- the states should publicly declare their learning goals and articulate concretely their plans for achieving higher learning outcomes for at least the next two to three years. This will induce accountability.
There is no equivalent independent and rigorous survey of higher education quality in India like ASER.
All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE)- an annual survey by department of higher education in the human resources development ministry.
According to it, there are 38,000 colleges and 767 universities in India.
There are 1.4 million teachers and 33 million students enrolled in these universities.
Gross Enrolment Ratio– the percentage of population 18-23 enrolled in college, is 23.6% for India. It widely varies from 12% for Bihar to 44% for Tamil Nadu.
National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF)- maiden attempt by HRD ministry to assess and rank universities in India
IISc and IITs are ranked top institutions
Among universities, Panjab, Delhi, Calcutta, Jadavpur, Aligarh Muslim and the Savitri Bhai Phule Pune University are usually well ranked on various metrics of teaching, learning, research and placements.
In Asia, the Chinese universities dominated the rankings.
In global rankings, usually Indian universities don’t find place in top 100.
The most challenging situation faced in higher education are
Low rates of enrolment-decreasing enrolment in primary education also suffers higher education. Also there existinsufficient universities and quality teachers to impart knowledge.
Unequal access-disparities in access to education, especially in terms of economic class, gender, caste and ethnic and religious belonging is present. The expansion of the private, self-financing education sector, with its aim of commercial intent, has been another reason for the propagation of disparities.
Quality of education-most of the higher educational institutes fail to provide for top quality education and skills which inturnleads to less employability.
There can be two kinds of universities:
Universal universities- focus on infrastructure, affordability, employability and adding value.
Stellar universities- focus on merit and on strong gating functions for faculty and students.
Improved quality-brain drain is still a challenge and thus there is a need for world class universities to be established in India. Government’s recent step of providing 1,000 research fellowships a year to IIT graduate students is an encouraging and step in right direction.
UGC reforms-It has become increasingly difficult for the UGC to keep pace with the changing dynamics of higher education; recent decisions have been considered to be ill-considered, with a lack in research and no proper consultation with the stakeholders.
Higher education is all about achieving access, equality, justice, quality, inclusiveness and employability. However, all at the same time is not possible.
There are no shortcuts for improving the education and thus any change perceived have to be from fundamental level.
Creating a robust primary education sector and globally competitive institutions will need money, time and focus over a long period of time.
India will need indigenous institutionsthat will contribute tofundamental innovations necessary for engine of growth in the coming decades.
Connecting the dots:
Education is termed as the growth engine for any country in this century. Examine if India’s potential demographic divided is ready for the challenge
Education and skills are complementary to each other. However, institutional set up is required to give them fillip and sustain their growth. Analyse.
Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, mobilization of resources, growth, development and employment
Infrastructure: Energy, ports, roads, airports, railways etc.
General Studies 2
Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Realizing India’s Energy Sector
India is the 5th largest producer of electricity in the world. At an electricity-GDP elasticity ratio of 0.8, electricity will continue to remain a key input for India’s economic growth.
The targets set for power, coal and renewable energy at 175 gigawatt (GW) of renewable capacity by 2022 and increase domestic coal production to 1,500 million tonnes (MT) by 2020 from 612.4 MT in 2014-15 should enable reaching ambitious targets.
Factors Determining Energy Sector realizations
Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act, 2015: The act aims to provide for allocation of coal mines and vesting of the right, title and interest in and over the land and mine infrastructure to successful bidders and allottees with a view to ensure continuity in coal mining operations and production of coal.
The domestic coal production target of 1,500 MT is to be realized in this manner:
1,000 MT by Coal India Limited
100 MT by Singareni Collieries Company Limited
400 MT by captive and private producers.
Provision from imports of some 66 MT (million tonne) of coking coal, we will still need domestic production of around 1,400 MT of coal. Thus, the target of 1,500 MT of coal production is a reasonable one.
Three measures to encourage renewable power:
Feed-in tariff (FIT): a fixed tariff is guaranteed to the power producer for a certain number of years. For him or her, this is desirable as it ensures assured income that eliminates market risk and he or she is able to raise finance easily.
Renewable portfolio obligation (RPO): an electricity distribution company (DISCOM) is required to purchase a certain percentage of its total distributed electricity from renewable sources. The price that a renewable power producer will receive is determined by the market. Thus there is also incentive to supply electricity at competitive rates.
Accelerated depreciation allowance: provides incentive to set up the plant but not to maintain it or generate electricity, helped boost wind power in the country.
The need for RPO
Even though FIT has been successful but RPO as a “single most important” policy to drive renewable energy deployment in India seems imperative.
It guarantees a certain minimum price to be paid to a renewable power producer.
RPO is that it can be neutral to technology. One does not have to prescribe whether it is solar or wind or biomass. Competitive market forces will select the most economical option. Whereas FIT is related to Solar only.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has recently announced consultation guidelines for long-term RPO trajectory.
The guidelines stipulate separate RPO for solar and non-solar electricity. The guidelines prescribe that 2.75 per cent, 4.75 per cent and 6.75 per cent has to be solar energy for 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively. The shares of non-solar energy such as wind, biomass, and small hydro for these years are to be 8.75 per cent, 9.50 per cent, and 10.25 per cent, respectively.
The success of energy realizations will depend on the specification of a floor price and effective enforcement by States. The Centre needs to create some mechanism to incentivise States to enforce such schemes.
The Centre could provide money from the non renewable source to renewable sources like in case coal cess revenue to States depending on the extent to which they meet the RPO targets.
Thus a reasonable aim of 1,500 MT of coal production by 2022 and a calibrated renewable energy push should enable reaching ambitious targets.
Connecting the dots:
Given the accelerated pace of development and demand for energy, would you consider renewable energy as a viable option for India’s future?
Discuss the factors under which the targets set for the Energy Sector can be realized. Are these targets for coal and renewable energy consistent?