12 November 2009

Educational reforms – murky way ahead IES09

Looks like there isn’t much on the horizon for reforms in the education sector. The minister of Human Resource Development lashed out at the India Economic Summit 09 against for profit educational institutions, saying ‘nowhere in the world’ is education for profit and such a set up would be ‘unacceptable’.

93% of all educaiton in India is governmental and only 7% with the private sector. Much of the so called private educational institutions are either of poor quality or owned by politicians. In effect because of this outrage against for profit, honest private sector people don’t get into education or face phenomenal rent seeking. Either dishonest people or politicians (because they are immune from the rent seekers) thus find it easy to set up educational institutions. Not only are the standards low because of this arrangement where the money is taken in cash, this also forms the basis of the argument that the private sector isn’t delivering!

The argument that ‘nowhere in the world’ is education private and for profit is plainly wrong. Unless of course the world is comprised of western europe and the US. Europe can afford to subsidise education at all levels and therefore standards of public education are quite high. US educational system is both well funded in the primary and secondary education by the government and by private endowments in the higher education. In India, with the fiscal constraints and because of lack of financial support by the private sector, neither is a real option.

We clearly need to move away from short term political posturing against for profit private institutions – the national demands for education and employability are too great for us to ignore this critical reform.

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