May 15 2013 | Focus

Growth Engine

This can only be achieved by improving the education standards, removing bottlenecks in gaining access to education at the primary level, increasing the participation of the private sector and foreign universities to enhance the higher education system in India. Challenges before the policy makers and individuals are many but India’s aspiration to drive its economy by building strong knowledge based society is likely to pay off and reap demographic dividends in the future. The foundation for building a competitive work force was already laid right after India’s independence. Building modern and competitive India is in the hands of individuals empowered by higher standards of education. Education is the key to economic development. Sandeep Sharma examines...

India’s education sector is counted among the top 10 in the world in value terms. The cost of educational services is less than 1/6th of the global average. With the increase in the purchasing power of Indian middle class and lots of Government initiatives to boost the education sector. The Indian education sector holds tremendous potential and likely to scale greater heights in years to come. As per India Ratings, the Indian education sector has grown at a CAGR of 16.5% during 2005-12. The higher education (HE) segment was at 34.04% ($17.02 billion) of the total size in FY10 and grew by a CAGR of 18.13% during FY04-FY10. The overall market size of the Indian education sector is likely to touch $109.84 bn by 2015.


To make larger inroads, the education system needs to be reformed at a faster pace. To make the most out of the human capital, there is an immediate need to raise the quality of teaching by employing excellent faculties in our universities. With increase in globalization and requirement of competitive skills and knowledge, India stands a chance to grab larger share of the knowledge based industries. The level of higher and technical education in India is highly developed having a sizeable population who are educated in different aspects of human creativity and knowledge streams. Higher education essentially empowers people with the requisite competitive skills and knowledge.

The process of providing access to more individuals, making higher education inclusive, and promoting excellence was initiated during the 11th Plan. These should be expanded further during the 12th Plan. A robust higher education system should be built that can aide in rapid economic development, strengthen competitiveness vis-a-vis other countries and meet the rising expectations of the young enterprising Indians. Focus on key areas of development should be identified and efficient delivery mechanism should be adopted.


The factors affecting education sector growth are mainly employability, macro-economic issues like inflation, economic slowdown and lack of industry appeal. India Infrastructure Report 2012 - Private Sector in Education opines that today, India’s education sector remains a victim of poor policies, restrictive regulations and orthodoxy. Despite being enrolled in schools, children are not learning adequately. Increasingly, parents are seeking alternatives through private inputs in school and tuition. Students are dropping out from secondary school in spite of high financial returns of secondary education, and those who do complete it have inferior conceptual knowledge. Higher education is over-regulated and under- governed, keeping away serious private providers and reputed global institutes. Graduates from high schools, colleges and universities are not readily employable, and few are willing to pay for skill development. Ironically, the Right to Education Act, if strictly enforced, will result in closure of thousands of non-state schools, and millions of poor children will be left without access to education.


• Poor Policies
• Higher Education is over regulated
• School training not adequate forcing the Students to rely on private tutorials
• Employability issues after completing education
• Increase in school drop-outs


The challenges before the education sector are manifold. On one hand there is funding issue and on the other hand bridging inequalities in the access to education is a major challenge. Right to education implementation can go a long way in tackling these challenges.

• Qualitative improvement in the education system
• Improve affordability and accessibility
• Quality faculty at all levels
• Technological integration
• Improving the delivery mechanism


The private sector participation is critical for the sectoral growth. They need to be encouraged to play a larger role in our educational system. The private sector can make a large difference in the higher education sector, but needs to ensure that there is no compromise or dilution in educational standards.


The foreign investment is allowed under automatic route in education sector. The 12th five year plan aims to improve the gross enrolment rate across levels, establish new entities, liberalising the sector (allow private universities and foreign players) and take other measures including access enhancement, might revive the demand for the sector. Global institutes and universities are likely to make the most out of this billion dollar opportunity once the reforms are initiated.


To raise the standard of education, the public private partnership (PPP) model is approved by the Government of India. Under this partnership, 2,500 model schools would be set up in blocks which are not educationally backward. The implementation has been initiated from 2012-13. The selected private sector partner responsibility will be to develop, design, build and operate these schools for which the Government will contribute to recurring cost on per capita basis for the students sponsored. Maximum 10% of the capital investment in the school shall be provided as infrastructure grant. The initial agreement for such provision of quality education would be for 10 years for each school, which is extendable by mutual consent. A scheme with Central-State funding for setting up one Model Degree College in each of the 374 identified educationally backward districts having Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) lower than the national GER is being implemented since 2010.


The Central Advisory Board on Education resolved that a CABE Committee will be constituted to examine the formulation of a National Higher Education Qualification Framework (NHEQF). The recommendations will be submitted within a period of six months. NHEQF aims to provide the broad framework within which universities and other degree- awarding educational institutions could develop the relevant syllabi using their academic autonomy.


The education sector in India mainly concentrated in Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities have started embracing technology on a wider scale. Use of latest ICT is not only helping students to understand subjects of their choice but also aiding teachers to communicate details through images and graphs. Digital teaching solutions are being adopted by schools across the country, and due to this the classroom environment is become more inclusive and participatory. Introducing digital teaching solutions in the classroom is currently limited to private schools and yet to make inroads as far as Government schools are concerned.


National Knowledge Network, which aims at the connection of knowledge generating institutions through high speed broad band network has made substantial progress. So far, 955 out of the 1,500 institutions are linked to this Network. The balance one-third institutions should be connected on priority basis to bring its benefits to remote areas.


The potential is huge in the Indian education sector. Around 1,000 more universities and 50,000 more colleges are likely to be built in the next decade to accommodate the rising young population. Funding requirement cannot be met by the Government alone, private sector participation and FDI on a wider scale would be required to upgrade and create world class educational infrastructure.


Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

2,14,561 Primary and 1,76,361 Upper Primary schools have been sanctioned under SSA till January 2013, of which 96% are operational. The rest would be operational by the end of the financial year.

Mid Day Meal Scheme
Mid day Meal Scheme (MDMS) covers children studying in classes I-VIII in Government, Local Body, Govt aided and National Child Labour Project schools and the centres run under Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) /Alternative & Innovative Education (AIE) centres including Madarsas/Maktabs supported under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). During the year 2011-12, 10.54 crore children studying in 12.31 lakh institutions have availed of the Mid Day Meal.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan
The RMSA guidelines provide for augmenting secondary school infrastructure through, inter-alia, construction of additional class rooms, laboratories, toilet blocks, drinking water, libraries etc.

National Literacy Mission
Since the launch of Saakshar Bharat, the new variant of the National Literacy Mission, in September 2009, the Mission has been sanctioned in 372 districts and its functioning is reviewed periodically.

Setting up of model schools
The centrally sponsored scheme to set up 6,000 model schools at the rate of one school per block was launched in November 2008. Out of these, 3,500 schools are to be set up in educationally backward blocks (EBBs) through State/UT Governments and the remaining 2,500 schools are to be set up under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) mode in blocks which are not educationally backward.

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs)
The KGBVs are sanctioned in EBBs with rural female literacy below the national average as per Census 2001, provided such residential schools are set up only in those EBBs which do not have a residential school at upper primary level for girls under any other scheme of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment or the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. As on 30-09-2012, 9.18% of the girls enrolled in KGBVs are from the minority community.

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