Sunday, July 05, 2009

Is this stuff some boiler-plate, or worthy of serious consideration?

In a box item (in Section 8 of Chapter 10) entitled "Education Reforms: Some Issues," this is what the Economic Survey (2009) has to say:

Education in India comes under the concurrent list and thus both the Central and State Governments are involved leading to multiple controls and regulations by the governments and statutory bodies. There is an urgent need for replacement of bureaucratic controls in education by professional regulators along with private-public partnership to ensure universal primary education. Competition in tertiary and secondary education is also equally essential. Rating the quality of educational institutions and all education service providers (private and public) may be helpful. Entry of registered societies (non-profit) and publicly listed (education) companies in all fields of education, subject to the regulatory framework which ensures quality and reasonable pricing may be encouraged. Government’s higher education funds should be focused on promoting scientific and technical education and encouraging R&D in all subjects. Education societies acquiring land at concessional rates or other assistance from the government should pass on the benefits to the students. There is a mad rush for higher education at prestigious institutions like IITs and IIMs. A large number of private coaching institutions are thriving on this phenomenon. Parents are incurring huge expenditure on their children to get coaching from the tutorial colleges to compete for engineering or management entrance examination. At the same time, there is heavy pressure on children which may adversely affect their physical and mental development. There is a need to streamline the admission procedure to such institutions while at the same time ensuring that quality of student intake does not suffer. Intake should be based on entrance examination which tests the aptitude to grasp knowledge and not the knowledge itself. Besides, the number of institutions could be increased through entry of private players while ensuring that they are professionally regulated so that their curriculums/degrees are internationally accepted.

The Economic Survey, I think, is supposed to lay out the current government's thinking on where the country is and where it should be heading. Since it comes from the Ministry of Finance, I guess its pronouncements in the economic sphere would be generally considered weighty.

But how about its vague statements in other spheres? I'm talking about sentences like these: "rntry of ... publicly listed (education) companies... may be encouraged," or "number of institutions could be increased."

How important are such non-Finance pronouncements? Does the Ministry of Human Resource Development, for example, take them as guidelines when it formulates its policies?


  1. Satya said...

    Interesting stuff that you've unearthed, Abi. If the Finance Ministry has put this down in an official report, could this be ascribed to the PMO's influence? The PM is supposedly backing Kapil Sibal to take on the challenge of reform, though he hasn't yet publicly said so.

  2. Sarah said...

    At any rate, I liked some of the vadlo researcher cartoons!