TOPIC: General Studies 2
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Problems and Reforms in Higher Education
Access, Equity, and Quality are the three benchmarks to judge any education system. As per reports and recent trends, India has not been up to the mark in all the three areas. As a result the education system in India has been in a poor condition and needs urgent and comprehensive reforms.
Problems of Higher Education in India
The socio economic condition of our country and its people leads to high rate of drop out. This leads to low gross enrolment ratio in higher education. The affordability of education, quality of schools and social issues such as early marriage force the children to opt out of education. Those who do go for complete higher education are later discouraged due to social discrimination faced at work as compared to the other well off sections of the society.
Students who are seeking admission into higher education institutions have to go through an admission test. Even these students face challenge in terms of fees that they have to pay to the coaching institutions which help in preparation of the entrance exams. Financial limitations and economic occupations are a major reason for students not taking up higher education.
No doubt the number of universities and colleges has grown manifold in the last 60 years of independent India but still the quantity and quality have not progressed in the same direction. Various shortfalls in term of quality are as follows:
- Shortage of good quality faculty leading to high number of vacancies and recruitment of under qualified teachers.
- Stark deficiencies of library books, laboratory facilities, computer and broadband internet.
- Infrastructural deficiencies in terms of buildings, classrooms, sports and extracurricular facilities.
Two-thirds of enrolment in higher education is in private institutions which charge very high capitation fees and work on a profit motive. Fees at such institutions are more than double of government institutions. This makes education highly unaffordable. Southern India has also seen a recent trend wherein higher education is now turning into a business and the colleges and universities are run as commercial enterprises.
On account of curriculum the education system has to face the following challenges:
- Emphasis on rote-learning.
- Outdated curriculum.
- Exam oriented learning and lack of practical education.
- Graduates lack basic language and cognitive skills. O
- Only 20% graduates from engineering colleges in India are employable in IT companies.
- Quality of post-graduate research is much below the global standards.
- Poor performance of India institutions in the global university rankings.
- Absence of regular institution quality and faculty reviews.
- Corruption and nepotism in appointments of faculty and their promotions.
Suggested Reforms and Strategy
Promotion of Vocational Education
- Universal access at minimal tuition fees should be given to the students with equivalent focus on vocational education as well.
- Institutes for vocational education should be established all across the state with option of evening classes as well. This will allow access to learning to those who are engaged in economic activities.
- Credits on a regular basis should be allocated to judge the performance of the students.
- Public Private Partnership model should be used to finance these institutes. Private sector should also be given priority access to the students for recruitment in their organisations.
Reforms in Regular Education
The students who do not wish to pursue vocational education can opt for general science and humanities subjects. The performance of these students should also be monitored on the basis of credits and tests.
Improvement in Access and Quality
- Professional schools should be established for subjects like Law, Business, Engineering and Medical. In these cases where the tuition fees are high, large number of options for student loans should be available at friendly terms.
- Public universities for specialized branches of science and humanities should be opened in limited number. The limited number will promote quality as both financial resources and faculty will be used in a more efficient and effective manner.
- Very selective research universities should be opened with scholarships for students and no tuition fee. Departments and institutes should be reorganized in a manner which focuses on multi-disciplinary research.
Faculty Related Reforms
These reforms are one of the most important reforms for addressing the challenges faced by higher education in India.
- Faculty selection and promotion should be entirely the responsibility of the faculty in consultation with various relevant stakeholders.
- The most important criterion for judging faculty will be teaching quality and the quality of research undertaken by the faculty.
- New appointments should be done on basis of presentation of research paper in open seminars where the faculty can be questioned by the public as well.
- Regular mid-term appraisals should be carried out by both internal and external review committees.
- Promotion should be totally based on performance and not on seniority.
- Flexible salary structures should be there to reward exemplary performances.
- Distance learning should be fully utilized. India should also promote the usage of international Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) system.
- Higher academic institutions need to be in sync with the needs and occurrences of the society and the economy. Connection between the ongoing research in universities and the innovations in the local industrial and commercial economy should be very strong.
- No involvement of politicians, administrators or regulatory bodies such as UGC in personnel selection.
- Periodic audits should be carried out to ensure that the budget assigned has been used in an efficient manner.
Just like every coin has two sides, there is a negative side to each suggested reform strategy as well which has to be balanced as well.
As and when the above reforms are carried out, it has to be ensured that non-interference and autonomy does not let universities to degrade in terms of quality and promote an atmosphere of nepotism and mediocrity. To address this problem competition should be promoted among universities at all times. As a result of the competition the institutions will always be cautious of losing quality faculty and students.
Also, caste reservations alone cannot address the concerns of the disadvantaged sections. It is essential to ensure employability of the graduates. This will, in the long run, bring more satisfaction and benefit to the needy sections of the society. Along with the reforms, these precautionary measures will promote equity and access to education.
Connecting the dots
- India needs to address three pillars of equity, access and affordability in higher education. Highlight how the educations system of India has failed in these aspects and a reform strategy for the same.
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.
General Studies 1
- Social empowerment
Zero tolerance towards child exploitation
In news: After almost two decades, Government of India decided to ratify International Labour Organisation’s two conventions which protects child against child labour.
International Labour Organisation
- It was created as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, to reflect the belief that universal and lasting peace can be accomplished only if it is based on social justice.
- The driving forces for ILO’s creation arose from security, humanitarian, political and economic considerations.
- ILO, the only tripartite U.N. agency, brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States
- Mandate: to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.
Conventions of ILO- International labour standards are legal instruments drawn up by the ILO’s constituents (governments, employers and workers). They are either:
- Conventions – legally binding international treaties that may be ratified by member states or
- Recommendations – serve as non-binding guidelines
The ILO’s Governing Body has identified eight conventions considered as fundamental principles and rights at work
- Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
- Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
- Forced Labour Convention
- Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
- Minimum Age Convention
- Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
- Equal Remuneration Convention
- Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
India decides to ratify two important conventions
Convention 182- On worst forms of child labour
- This calls for need to formulate legislation for prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour.
- Adopted by ILO in 1999
Convention 138- On minimum Age Employment
- Minimum age for employment should not be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling (14 years of age in India’s case).
- Adopted by ILO in 1973
They are two of the eight core labour conventions
Child exploitation in India
- Child Labour is the practice of having children engage in economic activity, on a part- or full-time basis. The practice deprives children of their childhood and is harmful to their physical and mental development.
- Around 9.8 million children are officially out of school and from those 4.3 million children are part of labour activities.
- Child labour has propelled vicious cycle of illiteracy and poverty.
- It is also the basis of organised crimes such as human trafficking, terror and drug mafia.
Challenges faced and changes made:
- Main bottleneck in ratifying conventions 182 and 138 was addressing forced or compulsory recruitment of children and raising age of employment in hazardous occupations from 14 to 18 years.
- However, when GoI passed Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2016 prohibiting the employment of children up to 14 years of age, and children up to 18 years of age in hazardous occupations, it was imperative to ratify convention 182 and 138.
Understanding the essence
The decision to ratify the convention and passing of child labour bill makes India’s intent clear of not tolerating the exploitation of children any longer.
The government will now take immediate and effective measures to prohibit and eliminate the worst forms of child labour:
- Child slavery (including the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage, and forced recruitment for armed conflict)
- Child prostitution and their use in pornography
- Use of children for illicit activities such as drug trafficking
- Exposure of children to any hazardous work which is likely to harm their health, safety or morals.
Under the provisions of Convention 182 and 138, there is no fixed deadline by which India has to eliminate worst forms of child labour.
Will child labour be finally eliminated?
- There have been concerns raised by many regarding the kind of ‘amendment’ made in CLPRA Act, 1986.
- There seems to be still lack of national commitment in abolishing all forms of child labour as the amendment in the law provides for employment of children under 14 years in ‘family enterprise’.
- Though the condition of working is only outside ‘school hours’, it is bound to affect child’s health as well as learning aptitude as the child will be forced to work and earn income.
- A new category of adolescents (14-18 years) has been created who can be employed in ‘non-hazardous’ occupations.
- Thus, the child has to work anyways and contribute economically to the family without focussing solely on his education and development.
- The amendments made merely to comply with international conventions is not the way forward. There has to be complete elimination of child labour as children from poor and marginalised sections, especially Dalits, are still in danger of being deprived of both the joys of childhood and their constitutional right to education.
This is a leap of India and its children to a much better society as this decision will have path-breaking impact on the lives of those who are forced to remain on the margins and are subject to exploitative conditions. These laws and conventions should assist the implementing institutions in eliminating all forms child labour. However, ending child labour requires language of compassion and humanity that would help accelerate the global movement against childhood exploitation. Increased moral courage, public concern, social empathy, political will and the implementation of resources invested in the development and protection of children are inevitable to eliminate child labour.
Thus, to achieve great reforms, the government, people and other stakeholders have to move in one direction with sincere efforts and dedication to change the prevailing circumstances.
It is crucial to engrain in mind that investment in children is an investment in future.
Connecting the dots:
- India recently decided to ratify Convention 182 and 138. Explain the previously mentioned convention wrt to importance for India in ratifying the same.
- After nearly two decades, India decides to ratify tow important ILO conventions. Which are they? Why there was such a delay and what are consequences of the ratification.
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