On this 60th Republic Day, I consider the education as one of the important aspects confronting Indian polity. Literacy and education are the most effective parameters to measure the human development index for a nation. Ever since the Independence, these issues have been discussed and leaders have also raised concern with amplified note. Around 45 per cent to 50 per cent of our population would be below the age of 25 by 2015. As against the present increased enrolment at primary level due to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan initiated by NDA Government, the drop out rate of school children before completing Grade VIII is around 53 per cent. The quality of education is another major source of anxiety for the nation, in terms of infrastructure; thousands of schools are lacking in basic facilities like classrooms, blackboards, teachers, toilets, electricity and drinking water facilities etc.
The Government has now proposed the Right to Education a statutory back-up to provide education a Fundamental Right for all children aged 6-14. We can definitely say that the education and health sectors are victims of political and bureaucratic neglect and maladministration. Secondary and higher education are important terminal stages in the system of general education, but the present system of education since 9th Standard to 12th Standard do not have a vocational bias to link it with the world of employment.
Even highly qualified individuals are searching for right employment and end up with a job which is irrelevant to the field of their study at higher education level. Partly responsible for this Indian mind-set and the government'spolicy for establishment of universities and technical institutes are oriented towards acquiring a formal university degree and not necessarily acquiring skills for greater employability. Consequently, those educated but without professional skills constituted 69 per cent of the total unemployed and a meagre 13 per cent of these university graduates are employable. A surprising fact that the higher educational institutes currently functioning or controlled by private persons are the off-shoots of political persons intended to mint money through those institutions. Dr C Rangarajan, the noted economist, former RBI Governor and the Chairman, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister has been stressing upon identifying gaps in the supply of labour and provide training to make available the skills that are in short supply. He underlined that we need more technicians than engineers, more para medical staff than doctors. The country'seducational system has to focus on vocational training on producing quality professionals.
At this hour of crisis, I remember my mentor the late Dattopant Thengadi, who much before the famous Management Guru Peter F. Drucker in late 60?s, said that the future India would not have the struggle between economic haves and have-nots, but between educational haves and have-nots. In 1990 Drucker said in finely tuned words that after the fall of communism and in the age of globalised economy the true fight would be between knowledge workers and service workers. In contrary to the slogans of sectarian thinkers Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) says that it is production by masses that matters and not mass production, and similarly it is consumption by masses and not mass consumption (by a few).
The vital symptoms of our labour markets are horrible. Unemployment may reach 29 per cent by 2020. Our demographic dividend means 7.4 crore people (25 per cent of world'snew workers) need jobs till 2010. As per Economic Survey 2007-08, 68.4 per cent India'spopulation would be in the working age of 15 to 64 years in 2006, a rising of 62.9 per cent from 2006. A Survey says that 80 million new jobs could be created in the next 10 yeas across India, of which 75 per cent will require vocational skills. Another study indicates that is an estimated 46 million-workforce deficit by 2020 while India would have an estimated surplus manpower of 47 million. We have got an opportunity which needs to be converted to our advantage by giving education and skill development the due importance in the planning process.
Despite the recommendations of DC Kothari Commission and the National Educational Policy 1968, that we could not make it possible to deliver at least 50 per cent of the students completing Class X to the vocational stream. Another centrally sponsored scheme launched in February 1988, the vocationalisation of Secondary Education, did not yielded results due to poor allocation and lack of interest with political and executive administration. Attention has to be paid to these 21 million-target group. As against this, available formal training capacity of the country is only 2.3 million students, which leaves a gap of 18.7 million. Besides ITI system, we need to revamp the entire educational system to fill up this gap. Besides, we need to take an urgent need to cater to the Class-VIII pass-outs, whose numbers will swell with the success of the Universaliation of Elementary and Middle Education and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan initiatives. The vocational education scheme should focus on the capacity of local industry to absorb students of a particular trade.
From the employment point of view, it is always considered that the educational planning in India from upper primary level is targeted to the needs of affluent urban population of India. From the period of great sage Adi Shankara to Mathematician Ramanujan and Sir CV Raman, they had education with right intent from rural/semi-rural hub and not in the institutions existing in mega cities which teach the children to ask for money instead of making them earn money.
On this 60th Republic Day the Indian polity should resolve to address the ill-wills of Indian educational system and address it with a right perspective. At present we are insisting upon secular education, which is harmful our society. More than 70 per cent of the population of the country belong to the rural areas. It is therefore necessary to search intellectuals from the rural areas in comparison to urban areas. An earnest action on following suggestions would make us look at the educational aspect in right perspective: