To improve the education system, India must come up with its own model: Rajan

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on July 25, 2018

Raghuram Rajan, Advisor, Krea University and a former RBI Governor, interacts with guests at Hotel Taj Coromandel in Chennai

Former RBI Governor says the private sector has a big role to play to bring about a change

India has to think of new ways to improve its education system and come up with its own model of improving quality in education, according to Raghuram Rajan, former RBI Governor.

The private sector definitely has a major role to play in this, as the government alone will not be able to overcome the huge challenges faced by the the education sector, he said during an interaction with R Srinivasan, Editor, BusinessLine, at a Breakfast with BusinessLine event, hosted by Taj Coromandel.

Dwelling on the theme of the event — Leveraging India’s human capital — Higher education for a new generation — Rajan pointed out that the private sector’s role in higher education was now limited; there was BITS Pilani, Indian School of Business and, more recently, Ashoka University that are known globally.

India, he said, could make huge strides in education through a credible certification framework, emphasising on continuing education and combining technology with human expertise. Raw material in the form of children was available in plenty and of good quality. They could be moulded. Despite the problems of malnutrition, poor school and collegiate education, “the raw material was usable and fresh. We should not give up on them,” he said.

“Even if they get a moderate education, you can still do great things with them,” he emphasised.

Given the enormity of the problem and the scale of the challenge, Rajan, who is an adviser to Krea University, said the way to tackle it was by having good structures, a lot of online material and hand-holding by competent teachers. “We need to revolutionise education,” he added.

For instance, he suggested, instead of having classes, children could be encouraged to learn at home through course material being made available online. They could then come to school to discuss individual problems or doubts with the teachers. This way, the teachers too will be able to pay more attention. This works better if class sizes are small. It works much better when there is a structure. Can we bring these to much bigger play, he wondered.

The certification process should be more credible, and micro-degrees encouraged, Rajan said. Maybe a person with a BA can take a year’s training in computer science and get a certificate that will be acceptable across the country. Rajan said the National University of Singapore enrolled a student for 20 years, which meant that the student could come back to take courses any time during that period. This is the kind of continuing education, the modern world needed.

It was still early days, he said, for private universities in India to make an impact. One, there was no level playing field as the private universities had to raise money. In the US, the for-profit universities had the worst graduation rates as they set the fees at a level commensurate with government funding. Students take government loans, go to these universities, get a lousy education and come out with dim job prospects, he added.

Rajan said there could be a transparent system that put information on students’ learning in colleges and the jobs they get, in the public domain for people to see and decide for themselves.

Published on July 24, 2018

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