Draining to Drought
India churns out more number of engineering grads than any other country in the world. Chinese counterparts are the only possible contenders with this regard. A recent survey report has revealed a bitter truth that makes us feel uncomfortable. The report says there are 15 million engineering grads unemployed in India. Despite our boastful claims of showing a steep curve in the literacy graph and our claims of putting India in the global business and engineering maps, this remain a issue either ignored or unanswered.
I would like to look at this issue from two fronts. For assistance I take up the scenarios in engineering stream in Tamil Nadu, a down south state in India. Currently the state has 571 engineering colleges, most of them managed by the private. Post the globalization boom back in the 90s changed the job maps altogether, setting new limits for the skill sets for job seekers. With the arrival of multinational companies and major industries setting foot on the Indian soil, the need for technical and engineering experts shoot up. The need for engineers topped the availability of the educational institutions then. Thus the need for more engineering colleges was felt. The government though increased the intake for the courses; the demand in specific fields was so high to meet with.
It was then the government allowed privatization in the educational realm, engineering stream in particular, at a massive scale. Aptly exploiting the English craze among the Tamil demography, matriculation schools mushroomed in the late 80s and became wide spread across the state in the 90s. Education at the school level had already turned into a lucrative business showering moolah. Many business men eyed education as a promising field of business. From their PoV it was a business that asks for less financial investments but promises heavy returns on the contrary. The privatization of engineering education though has paved way for mass literacy has pulled down the quality of education over time.
With the IT boom, the engineering craze also escalated and it became the most sort after courses by the students and parents alike for it proved the best ad easiest way to land in renowned IT companies. One seemed least bothered about the branch they choose in the engineering stream as all their IT dreams ended at the same point. The companies too were not so concerned about this. All they wanted was a trainable tech grad, who after their few months training would become a ITian irrespective of his core field. But the while IT dwindled during the last recession era, around 2007, there was a phenomenal shift in the choices of the pupils regarding their higher studies.
During this mean time while all the bees were so busy swarming around the engineering hives, the tents of science and arts almost got empty. Now the wheel has rotated. The craze foe engineering courses has waned and in the current year over 120,000 seats remain empty.
School education that saw its service motives morphing into the business motives in the hands of the private managements has now moved on to the higher education as well. Besides, many colleges which mechanically churn out grads each year have failed to ensure the skill sets in them that employers look for.
From another perspective they aren’t to be blamed completely. The engineering curricula show no difference from the school curricula which promotes rote learning. Any pupil at the school level in the Indian education system could come out with flying colors, just relaying on his/her memory. Perhaps the CBSE curriculum stays out of this, sadly only handful of the student population has an access to it.
The current higher education system though fulfills all the requisites it also allows a pupil to pass out just relaying on rote learning, refraining himself/herself from actually understanding anything that is memorized.
The immediate necessity in the Indian education system is not on improving the infrastructural facilities, but on the reformation of the system on the whole from the base. It’s high time to think of an education system that would cater the current demands, giving up the outdated Mecaulay Education System. What use would it be having a better infrastructure with state-of-the-art resources without working on the shortcomings of the present education system?