Union Urban development Minister Venkaiah Naidu Â expressed concern about the high commercialization of education sector and appealed all the stakeholders to join hands in making it more productive, merit driven and student centric.
He was speaking at a National ConferenceÂ â€œReforming & Rejuvenating Indiaâ€™s Higher Educationâ€Â organized by the Education Promotion Society for India (EPSI).
â€œOur ancient institutions of learning focused more on preparation of â€˜wholesome individualsâ€™. However, with the passage of time and changing values, education has come to be a trade off for employment and more particularly; higher education has come to be seen more as a means of getting more lucrative jobs. So, education in effect has come to be just a means for a good material living and not â€˜complete living in all its dimensionsâ€™â€™, Naidu said addressing the huge gathering of representatives from private education institutions from across the nation.
He further added, â€œAs a result, education sector has come to be a play ground of commercial forces. Exorbitant donations, high tuition fees, Air conditioned buses and hostels etc rule the roost. Education is now more an industry than means of acquiring knowledge and enlightenment.â€
The minister noted that India’s youth bulge has been described as its demographic dividend, but if this youth is not properly educated (and skilled) and cannot become productive members of society, the dividend will quickly become a disaster, spurring large-scale social unrest and turmoil across the country.
The union minister also expressed concerns over unrest seen in certain campuses recently and made it clear that while the government is open for â€œdissentâ€ of opinion, but would not tolerate any kind of attempt towards â€œdisintegrationâ€ at any cost.
He, meanwhile, lauded the role of numerous other institutions that showed â€œremarkable disinterestâ€ with such issues and continued their focus on academic activities. Such an education should enable â€˜empowerment and enlightenmentâ€™.
â€œEducational institutions in the country should take an active lead in resetting education landscape to make it more relevant and contemporary. Every graduate, post-graduate or a research scholar passing out of the places of higher learning should be a complete individual capable of handling himself, his life and furthering larger societal need,â€ he said.
He underlined the need for preventing brain drain and changing it into brain gain. The minister said that the government has taken several initiatives to bring aboutÂ paradigm change in our priorities and policies so that a resurgent India can be built unleashing the full potential of all Indians.
â€œMake in India, Skill India, Digital India and CleanÂ India are well thought out components of the strategy to make this resurgent India. To achieve these objectives, our educational policies, curriculum, academia-industry interface, priorities etc need to be revisited to ensure that they are in tune with national demands and goals.â€
He also expressed hope that the upcoming National Education Policy, expected to be released beforeÂ May 26, will help addressing varied challenges being faced by the Indian education system.
â€œI am sure the policy will become the vehicle that will serve the aspirations of a resurgent nationâ€ he added.
Earlier in the valedictory session,Â Dr Prashant Bhalla, Treasurer, EPSI and President, Manav Rachna Educational Institutions in his welcome address said,Â â€œEducation holds the key to economic development in the country and it is the job of academia to provide quality education. The primary task of educational institutions is to create honorable citizens of the nation. There is a dire need for synergy between private funded and public funded institutes. Higher education system to that effect needs to be remodeled for resurgence and rejuvenation. Industry wants skilled workforce and responsible citizens. Therefore, there is a need for a regulatory environment in the educational system. We are hopeful that the national educational policy will be drafted keeping in view all the essential needs of the higher education sector. â€
â€œA vital issue before our higher education system is its inability to produce what we call â€˜industry-readyâ€™ graduates. Industry bodies have often complained of the lack of employable graduates and the need for bringing the higher education system in sync with the industry and its needs. As we launch ambitious programs such as â€˜Make in Indiaâ€™, we need greater focus on ensuring that our education system produces more skilled and equipped human resource,â€Â says Dr. H Chaturvedi, Alternate President, EPSI.