India increasing institutions

India is on an intensive mission to raise the number of young people attaining tertiary qualifications radically. The drive is being focused on the country’s most destitute corners.

The initiative is a result of India’s successful bid to make primary and secondary education universal. Now millions of high school graduates want to participate in the country’s burgeoning economic success. The challenge is that population growth has increasingly become hazardous to the country’s financial future as it tries to educate a new generation to sustain progress. India’s population is projected to increase by about 25%, or 300 million people, by the year 2026, and onethird of Indians are below the age of 24.

To extend further education to this vast population, the government plans to open as many as 374 new public universities and to increase the post-secondary enrolment rate for 18- to 23-year-olds from 18% to 30%, says Ved Prakash, the chair of India’s University Grants Commission.

Currently, the one-room schoolhouse, sans basic amenities like toilets, is the only source of education in many urban slums and overpopulated villages across India. It’s common for children to drop out of school at the age of 10. Some privately owned schools offer distance education, but quality is inconsistent, and corruption and nepotism are rife in post-secondary institutions.

The government is also punting online and open universities, like Indira Gandhi National Open University, where four million students are enrolled and can get practical training in computers and agriculture, preparation for a stable government job, or study for advanced degrees in technology and engineering, French and women’s studies.

Category: Winter 2012

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