Developing human capital through education: Challenges and Solutions
As India moves towards being a world economic power, despite the economic slowdown, the low standards of education raise a legitimate concern about the means through which India will manage to sustain this growth without developing its human capital. With its 357 million illiterates, India is home of a third of the total number of illiterates in the world. This is a statistic in which not many Indian would take pride. The investment in human capital, through quality education, holds the key to inclusive development in the burgeoning Indian economy. The education system, despite its considerable achievements in the ...view middle of the document...
However, the educational infrastructure that looks profoundly impressive on paper has failed to meet the expectations for building a large base of appropriately trained human capital. Hence, there is a rightly felt need for expansion of the system. The path that this expansion must tread has been described below.
While conceiving the idea of expansion of the education system, focus must be set on a) expanding, in the existing schools, other complementary infrastructures that
promote education b) expanding the reach of the schools and colleges
The investment for expansion should be directed towards increasing the efficacy of the already existing structures. The inadequacy of the present infrastructure in providing standard education is one factor that has a heavy bearing in keeping several children away from schools. To illustrate, girl students might not be willing to continue their education into the middle school if a basic amenity like washroom is not provided in the school. Also, availability of transportation facility to the school is a must. Providing such supportive structures to the pre-existing infrastructure for education is imperative to ensure that the drop-out rate is less. The supportive structures for education, mentioned above, are the incentives which, like the mid-day meal scheme, can be crucial in expanding the numerical base of the education system. In policy making, it is crucial to dispel the belief that the high drop-out rate is an outcome of the compulsion of the poor families to include the child in the work force. As an undergraduate student I have been working with the National Service Scheme (NSS) cell at my institute. My interactions with the disadvantaged through NSS have led me to believe that poor equally realize the importance of education and they are willing to send their children to school. However, the lack of various supportive structures prevents them from doing so. Hence, it is the supportive structures that we need to target through the expansionary programs in education. The second issue in expansion concerns increasing the reach of the schools. This refers to a coordinated policy to ensure that the schools enrol students from communities which have largely remained excluded and the youth who have dropped out from the education system. A greater number of students must be enrolled and sustained till at least their matriculation. This expansion will require, inter alia, a fundamental change in the methodology of teaching which I have discussed later in the essay. Here, it would suffice to say that this expansion can be achieved through involving the the panchayats actively in expanding the base for the education system.
For expansion, it is also necessary to increase public expenditure on education. In 200607, such expenditure stood at 3.7 per cent of the GDP which is quite low when compared with the other developing countries like Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia and Namibia that have achieved...