The education system of India faces challenges related to access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability. These needs to be addressed on priority basis for achieving the objectives of the new education policy, intended to make India a knowledge superpower. Elaborate.

India’s new education policy envisages India as a knowledge superpower with enviable research output and mainstreaming of vocational education with higher education.

Addressing challenges:

  1. Access –
  • Enrolment in primary education is 95% but that in higher education is 25%.
  • Women’s access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is low.

Solutions:

  • Making students loans easily available.
  • Better regulation of fees in private institutions.
  • Enforce 25% quota in private schools under RTE Act.
  1. Equity
  • Children from socially marginalized and rural backgrounds struggle to access higher education.

Solutions:

  • Expand scholarships for SC, ST and OBC students.
  • Offer fee rebates to women pursuing STEM education.
  • Use biometric systems to ensure attendance of teachers in disadvantaged areas.
  1. Quality –
  • Indian institutes are lagging behind in global rankings.
  • A large section of Indian graduates are unemployable.

Solutions:

  • Introducing grade competence framework in schools, instead of syllabus completion.
  • Emphasis on critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Soft skill training has to be provided to students in higher education.
  1. Affordability –
  • Medicine, management and law are some of the courses that are very expensive.
  • Private schools often increase fees arbitrarily.

Solutions:

  • State governments must sign agreements with institutions to regulate higher education fees.
  • Philanthropy should be increased for funding education, e.g. encourage corporates to sponsor some students.
  1. Accountability –
  • Higher education institutions are not being held responsible for lapses by sectoral regulators.

Solutions:

  • On the lines of national medical commission, similar bodies are needed for other professional courses.
  • Gram Panchayat should be tasked with holding local schools responsible.

Way forward:

Refining the new education policy will help meet the above objectives.

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