Sunday, August 1, 2021

Foreign University Campuses In India: A Welcome Move

It is well known that education is a vital instrument for social change. The objective of science education is to develop creativity along with competence. Right from the beginning, teaching of science is, therefore, expected to foster natural curiosity and encourage learning through the scientific method. This comprises of observation, analysis and then arriving at a conclusion which is verifiable. This, in brief, is called a scientific approach which can be inculcated and nurtured in children with sustained efforts through proper training at the school level.

In today’s world, knowledge is growing at an extremely fast pace and its accumulation is extremely significant for the human resource development of a developing country. With the growing importance of science and technology, education for socio-economic development, it is imperative that the present system of teaching and learning science in India becomes of international standards.

Last month, while delivering the convocation address of the IIT, Guwahati, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the education sector will be opened-up to meet the future requirements of the country. He said that under the New Education Policy 2020, foreign universities of repute will be allowed to set up their offshore campuses in India. This will provide global exposure to the students in India. Already thousands of Indian students go abroad for higher studies in search of foreign degrees every year. This step will also establish India as a major global education destination.

The Prime Minister further emphasized that research collaboration and exchange programmes will be promoted with foreign institutions of repute in order to give boost to R&D in the country. Indian students must become future ready as dreams and aspirations of the students will also shape the future of this country.

Ever since independence in 1947, the policy making, expansion and development of education in India have been the responsibility of its democratic governments. The following few decades saw tremendous growth in this sector both in terms of its quantity and quality of the centres of learning. Several premier institutions for teaching of medicine, engineering, management and humanities were established creating a fairly large infrastructure of education in the country.

India had been spending upto 6 percent of its GDP on the education sector. But with the growing scope of knowledge and new innovations required in R&D, it was realized that India cannot remain content and basking in the success of its IITs and IIMs anymore. There was an urgent need to improve the quality of education being provided in other existing institutions as well but the huge expenditure required for doing so was a big impediment. To improve the quality of higher education initially, measures such as conferring autonomous status on colleges and universities, in service training of teachers and financial support for R&D activities were provided by the government. But these measures proved inadequate. Therefore, after 1990, taking the cue from the US and UK, the concept of private universities were adopted in India. It was felt that they would meet the growing demand for technical education in the country and make it self-reliant in the future.

Several entrepreneurs came forward and started their technical institutions all over the country with the approval of the All India Council for Technical Education. But in due course it was felt that the quality of the graduates passed out from many of these newly opened technical institutions was not up to the mark.

The government had to start training courses for their continuing education and skill development in order to improve their employability under the aegis of National Institute of Electronic and Information Technology (NIELET) and such others. The National Democratic Alliance Government has rightly focussed on reforming India’s education sector. This year, the government has allocated almost Rs. 1 lakh crore to the education sector.

With the opening of the education sector to foreign universities of repute, the quality of technical education will improve considerably in India. The employability of the students will also get a boost and the country can prosper along with its enriched manpower.

Script: Dr. Amalendu Shekhar, Media Professional

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