Foreign Investment in Higher Education
February, to India, is a crucial month. Hey not the Valentine stuff. It’s the month where the speculations about the Indian Budget for the upcoming financial year. Come every year at this point few interested in education in India would braze up again to discuss on the, still, inadequate spending on education sector, despite there have been a steep rise in the spending on education recently in India. This argument could however not be overlooked as still Indian spending on education is lower than many other nations across the globe.
Whenever there raises a debate on the educational spending it’s quite natural that we wish to know about the military spending of that nation. Here I provide with an interesting graphic representation on the military Vs educational spending of some of the countries globally, which I ended up after a brief search. This highlights some interesting points.
India is unique in its demographic makeup. India has the largest population of under -thirties, globally. Even China couldn’t catch up with us, in this regard. I say it here, just to show why spending more on education in our country is essential and would be more deserving. In the current political scenario, Mr. Modi being a man showing extreme interest in attracting foreign investment, and given education sector is a diamond mine not yet exploited much in India by FDI; many interested institutions would turn up. Well, factually already many are willing to open their branches in India. Indians like their Asian counterparts give more importance to educating their kids even by willingly emptying their pockets. This is a promising prospect for those who wish to tent here.
Three days back (on Feb 16th) I stumbled upon a news article penned by venture capitalist Vijay Dhingara (his LinkedIn profile delivers a big line up) and Parul Shah. Among the duo Mr. Vijay is a partner with Deloitte, the world’s largest professional services firm based in US. The article offers a six point agenda (http://www.firstpost.com/business/budget-2015-a-6-point-agenda-for-modi-to-make-education-accessible-and-affordable-2101291.html)to Mr.Modi and the title reads they are to make education accessible and affordable. One could perceive the business model he provides intends to ease the foreign investments in the respective sector. Well, we couldn’t expect more from an investment banker.
It has been almost 50 years since we got recommendations of Kothari Commission’s report. Any student of education will tell you a lot about this report published back in 1966. Apart from plenty of recommendations the prominent one was to spend 6% of total GDP on education by 1986, which we haven’t done even now. Spending on education would never improve in India unless it is viewed as an investment for the future rather than an expenditure at the present.
My questions are simple. The need to spend on education is beyond debate. But could the standard of Indian education be improved only by foreign institutions and not otherwise? Couldn’t we rethink of revising the curricula to make the education more meaningful together with innovations in the teaching methodology? No educationalist would view education as a business but as a mean to make humanity more productive and civilized. In India in the name of privatizing, we’ve already given education partly to businessmen, who are minting moolah from it. On top of it should foreign competitors be allowed?
In the article quoted, Vijay has proposed NaMo to make education accessible and more affordable. Here he advocacy might only work for the creamy few who now go abroad to pursue their higher education.
The first step to improve educational standards on a broader spectrum, so it would really become accessible to all Indians, is to study the flaws in current system. We shall think over it.
This article doesn’t convey anything apart from asking one core question.
“How independent is India if it has to depend on everything on other nations even on core sectors like education, while it has ample opportunities to improvise and improve domestically?”