Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The International Herald Tribune on higher education in India

Anand Giridharadas is refreshingly blunt:

In the shadow of [IITs and IIMs], most of the 11 million students in the 18,000 Indian colleges and universities receive starkly inferior training, heavy on obeisance and light on marketable skills, students, educators and business leaders say. All but a tiny handful of graduates are considered unemployable by top global and local companies.


The Indian educational system is locking millions of students in the bottom berth of a two-tier economy, critics argue, depriving the country of the fullest expression of their talents and denying students a chance to share in the fruits of reform.

The problem, experts say, is in a classroom environment that infantilizes students well into their mid-20s, emphasizing silent note-taking and discipline at the expense of analysis, debate and persuasion.


India is one of those rare countries where you become less able to find a job the more educated you get. College graduates suffer from higher jobless rates - 17 percent in the 2001 census - than high school graduates.

Later in the article, we get a few scenes from a second tier college:

"Out! Out! Close the door! Close the door!" a management professor barked at a student who entered his classroom at Hinduja two minutes late. A second student, caught whispering, was asked to stand up for the duration of class.

At Hinduja, the mode of instruction is often more evocative of a communist re- education camp than a modern campus.