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Elementary and Higher Education in India


Elementary and Higher Education in India Arvind Panagariya Columbia University Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh November 2, 2008 Introduction Elementary ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Elementary and Higher Education in India

Elementary and Higher Education in India
  • Arvind Panagariya
  • Columbia University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Pittsburgh November 2, 2008

  • Elementary Education
  • Low Literacy Rates
  • Rampant teacher absenteeism
  • Low reading, writing and Math scores
  • Higher Education
  • A highly centralized system
  • No genuine entry to private universities
  • Low gross enrolment ratios
  • Paradox of brilliant graduates and a
    dysfunctional education system

School Enrolments () in Rural India
Not in School includes drop-outs and those
never having gone to school Source Pratham ASER
School Enrolment Young Children
Source Pratham ASER 2008
Learning Level Reading
Source Pratham ASER 2008
Arithmetic Level
Source Pratham ASER 2008
  • Directive Principles free compulsory education
    for all children until they completed the age of
    14 years by 1960
  • Heavy emphasis on the expansion of the state run
    (government) schools (reasonable policy at the
  • National policy statements in 1968 and 1986
    (revised in 1992) still left India some distance
    away from universal primary and middle education
  • 2001 The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) or
    National Movement for Universal (Elementary)
  • 2002 86th constitutional amendment Right to
    education elevated to a fundamental right
  • Implementing legislation abandoned in 2005 due to
    lack of resources but is being currently

Poor Achievement Levels What are the Solutions?
  • Bring down teacher absenteeism
  • Hiring and firing power to local levels
  • Better monitoring Cameras in the classrooms?
  • Improve the quality of instruction
  • No silver bullet Increased inputs no guarantee
  • Increased role of para-teachers
  • Increased role of private schools (vouchers to
    the bottom 30)

Private Schools Rural Areas
  • Muralidharan and Kremer (2006) Systematic
    comparison of government and private schools for
    the year 2003 in RURAL India.
  • Private school teachers are 2 to 8 percentage
    points less likely to be absent than govt. school
  • They are 6 to 9 percentage points more likely to
    be teaching than government school teachers
  • Higher test scores on the average
  • Teacher salaries 1/10th to 1/5th of govt
  • A key factor . Out of 3000 government schools
    surveyed, only one head teacher dismissed a
    teacher for repeated absences. In the private
    sector, they found 35 such cases in just 600
    schools surveyed
  • private schools emerge in villages where teacher
    absenteeism is higher in government schools
    rather than in richer areas

Private Schools Urban Areas
  • Tooley and Dixon (undated) Census of primary and
    secondary schools in Shahdara, a poor area in
    Delhi, in 2004-05
  • 275 schools in total 27 public 7 aided
    private 38 unaided and recognized and 28
    unaided and unrecognized. 66 entirely private
  • Teacher absenteeism 38 in public, 70 in pvt.
  • on average, unrecognized private school students
    score higher than public ones (72 higher in
    mathematics, 83 higher in Hindi and 246 higher
    in English)
  • Salaries 1/7th in unrecognized schools
  • Teachers in unrecognized schools more satisfied
    in terms of salaries, holidays or social

Higher Education Pre-Independence History
  • 1854 Sir Charles Wood's Dispatch known as the
    Magna Carta of English Education in India
    recommended a proper scheme of education from
    primary to university levels
  • 1857 Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras
    were set up
  • 1925 Inter-University Board was created to
    promote cooperation among the universities
  • 1945 University Grants Committee was formed to
    oversee the activities of three central
    universities (Delhi, Aligarh and Banaras).
    Authority extended to all universities in 1947

Post-Independence Developments
  • 1948 The University Education Commission with
    Radhakrishnana as Chairman. It recommended
    reconstituting the University Grants Committee as
    the University Grants Commission along the lines
    of the UGC in U.K.
  • 1953 UGC formally inaugurated
  • 1956 UGC Act turning the UGC into a statutory
    body with wide powers over Indias higher
    education system

A highly Centralize System with the UGC at the
  • UGC and 14 statutory central professional
    councils tightly control the entire system.
    Corruption is rampant at all levels. As examples,
    two most powerful councils are
  • All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE)
    (since 1987)
  • Medical Council of India (MCI) (since 1956)
  • UGC controls the entire university system
    including curriculums, degrees, fees, faculty
    qualifications and approval to new universities.

Number of Colleges, Universities and Students
The Tight Grip of Professional Councils
  • AICTE controls virtually all aspects of technical
    education in Engineering and Technology, MCA
    MBA, Pharmacy, Architecture Applied Arts, Hotel
    Management Catering Technology. E.g.,
  • It lays down norms and standards for courses,
    curricula, physical and instructional facilities,
    staff pattern, staff qualifications, quality
    instruction, assessment and examinations
  • It grants approval for starting new technical
    institutions and for the introduction of new
    course or programs
  • MCI All aspects of medical education

Avenues to Setting up Degree Awarding
Institutions in India
  • Central universities established by Acts of
    Parliament and State universities established by
    Acts of State Legislative Assemblies
  • Private universities also require central or
    state legislation
  • Institutions deemed to be universities by the
    UGC and, thus, given university status under the
    UGC Act 1956 and
  • Degree-awarding institutions of national
    importance, such as the Indian Institutes of
    Technology (IIT), established by Acts of
    Parliament and outside the purview of the UGC.

Private Universities A Sham
  • There are only two avenues
  • UGC must deem them as universities or
  • They must be created through a central or state
  • The UGC approval remains essential in either case
  • Considerable interference by the UGC with
    admissions, fees, curriculums, degrees awarded
    and faculty salaries

Private Colleges Hostage to the UGC
  • Must be affiliated to a central or state
    university (private and deemed universities are
    unitary and not allowed to affiliate colleges)
  • No effective freedom to create a brand name since
    degrees must be issued in the name of the
    affiliating university
  • Medical colleges MCI, a highly corrupt body,
    exercises very tight control and threatens
    closure on the flimsiest grounds. Unlike
    engineering colleges, medical colleges have
    expanded very slowly except in a handful of the

Low Enrolment Ratio and Low Value Added in the
  • Gross enrolment ratio in higher education as
    reported by Unesco rose from 10 in 2000 to 12 in
    2004 in India
  • By comparison, this ratio rose from 6 percent in
    1999 to 13 percent in 2002 and 19 percent in 2004
    in China
  • Rampant teacher and student absenteeism
  • Teachers have zero incentive to teach or do
    research (Once tenured, cannot be fired. No
    gain from superior performance except the
    gratitude of some sincere students.)

So How Come the System Still produces so Many
Brilliant Graduates
  • With a preponderantly young population of more
    than a billion individuals and a longstanding
    tradition that places the highest value on
    intellectual pursuits, India has a large number
    of young men and women interested in education
  • Thanks to the entry of a large number of
    excellent private schools in the urban areas and
    a well-functioning secondary-school system, many
    students are well prepared for higher education
    when they reach college age.
  • Universities and colleges do an adequate job of
    quality control. The centralized examinations are
    able to sort out the very best 10 or so from the
    rest credibly. Good performance in the
    examinations, thus, has a signaling value in the
    market place. This provides brighter students
    the incentive to master the curriculum and even
    spend large sums of money on coaching institutes
    if required.
  • But this still leaves a vast number of poorly
    qualified students.

What Must be Done?
  • Decentralize (abolish the UGCU.K. did years
  • Unshackle private universities and colleges
  • Augment financial resources of the universities
  • Knock down the barriers to foreign scholars

The Case for Decentralization
  • Even UGC cannot administer 400 plus universities
    and 20,000 plus colleges
  • An average of 50 affiliated colleges per
    university is also far too many
  • Centralization stifles creativity and initiative
    at the local level
  • It also destroys the incentive to compete (same
    salary etc.). Genuine autonomy will require
    freedom to set the salary by universities and
  • Pre-Independence India was decentralized In mid
    1980s, China decentralized, too.

Unshackle Private Institutions Virtual
Stagnation in the Public Sector
Unshackle Private Universities and Colleges
Learn from the U.S.
  • Genuine competition will have to come from
    private universities (Harvard, Princeton,
    Columbia etc.)
  • This will also help improve standards in public
  • Freedom to set salaries will lead to faculty
    mobility across universities
  • Freedom to set fees in private universities will
    also help establish the principle of fees in
    public universities

Augmenting Financial Resources
  • Public institutions funding public funds, fees
    and income from other sources including
    charitable contributions, project grants from the
    industry and government, sales of publications
    and income from renting land and other facilities
    on the campus.
  • Public expenditure down from 1 of the GDP in
    1980-81 to 0.6 in 2003-04
  • Tuition fees 15 to 20 of operating expenditures
    in the 1950s but down to 2-3 today

Remove the Barriers to Foreign Scholars
  • Department of Higher Education Guidelines , In
    case a foreign scholar proposes to undertake a
    research project in a university/institution of
    higher learning in India, he is required to make
    an application in the prescribed proforma to the
    Ministry of Human Resource Development
    (Department of Higher Education) and get his
    research project approved by the Government
    before he is allowed to undertake any research in
    a university/institution.
  • Universities and institutions of higher learning
    hosting an international conference must also get
    prior permission from the HRD Ministry on
    virtually all aspects of the conference including
    foreign scholars likely to participate.
  • A university wishing to host a foreign scholar as
    a visiting professor must get clearance of the
    HRD Ministry

What are the chances of Reforms?
  • No worse than of trade and investment
    liberalization in 1991. Few thought at the time
    that India will ever give up License Raj or the
    monopoly of telecommunications and airline
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