Monday, March 17, 2008

Pratap Bhanu Mehta on the state of higher education

In order to understand why our high school students are under such tremendous stress, he says, we must look at the state of our higher ed system. Here's an excerpt from last week's column:

But Parliament spectacularly misdiagnosed the source of the stress. The primary source of stress on the students is not the curriculum. It is simply that quality institutions in higher education are in extremely short supply. In the current system, every marginal mark might make a difference to your prospects of admission, no matter what the curriculum. An ideal system of higher education has two attributes. There must be an adequate supply of good quality institutions. But equally importantly, the differences in the quality of institutions must be a gradual downward sloping curve. If you did not get into the best institutions, the price you pay for getting into the second best is not that high. In our case, there is a very small cluster of desirable institutions, surrounded by a sea of low quality colleges. Unless the supply and quality of higher education institutions are changed, the quest for the marginal mark will continue to produce stress on grandparents like the Lok Sabha speaker.