Cultivating human capital

Jul 07 2014, 20:54 IST
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SummaryThe new govt can set the ball rolling towards transforming India into a 21st-century powerhouse of human capital. The next few steps will set the trend. The next generation will reap the rewards

How the new government intends to deal with the moral obligation of satisfying a whole generation of young people thirsting for access to quality education, jobs and a decent standard of life will verily determine how it is popularly perceived. Radical big leaps, rather than incremental small steps, are the need of the hour. Ironically, the challenge has never been about us knowing what to do, but more about the will and proficiency to push through the steps that need to be taken. If the political class wants to meet the aspirations of 560 million young people, what should the government do? Six key things, is the answer.

Digital education: the mahamantra

Over the past 8-9 years, Indian schools and students have demonstrated that their ability to adapt to digital technology is no less than anybody else in the world. Today, many private schools in India which use products like Smartclass are way ahead of the technology adoption curve than many other schools in the US, Singapore and even Japan. There is a great opportunity in front of us to take to e-education and spread it across the country.

The advantages are obvious. One, we will be able to deal with the critical teacher shortage problem and also the teacher quality issue. Two, we will be able to make education contextualised, localised, relevant and consistent across the country. It has been proven that when kids are exposed to multi-sensory and multimedia education, they are able to retain the learning content. One of the perennial problems has been the huge drop-out ratio because students do not find education relevant or contextual to their surroundings. Using digital means will ensure that every learner will find it a joy to go school and that can immediately cut down the drop-out rate.

Unshackling education

When you consider it has taken about 60 years to create 1,200-odd Kendriya Vidyalayas, you know that your strategy is not working. What is needed is to supplement new schools and institutions on a war-footing. For decades, we have limited the supply of schools due to self-imposed constraints on volumes by keeping private investment out of education. Estimates suggest that if private capital is freely allowed to participate in education, it can unleash an investment of over R10,000 crore over the next 12 months. That’s a huge sum and is the equivalent of building 1,000 new schools.

But what prohibits private capital to enter education? Current regulations

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