Topic: Educational Reforms and Employment Opportunities.

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Essay topic: Educational Reforms and Employment Opportunities. Picture to yourself a crowded scene in a train crossing through the rural belt of India. The train stops for some time for track clearance and a couple of kids in rags enter the compartment with brooms. As the gentlemen seated in the seats discuss about the impact of recession on the Indian growth story a boy of about fourteen, brushes the area below their seats. He is at work. But what is the pay? After having swept the whole compartment he comes and begs.

Some generous folks drop a coin or two on his hands; some give away some food that they had been carrying. With the same dirty hands that he had swept the passages he licks up a bowlful of rice someone was generous enough to give him. This he accepts as payment. The most distinctive feature about India is the huge income disparity and the diverse cultural fabric. So on one hand we have IITs and IIMs aiming at achieving international standards to match MIT and Harvard while at the other hand we even have many villages without a primary school. A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) found that 25% of Indians, or 236 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day with most working in “informal labor sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty. “(Ref: Wikipedia: This figure has been variously reported as either “2 dollars per day” or “0. 5 dollars per day”. The former figure comes from the PPP conversion rate, while the latter comes from the official exchange rate.

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Also note that this figure does not contradict the NSS derived figure, which uses calorie consumption as the basis for its poverty line. It just uses a more inclusive poverty line) With the second largest population in the world there is a huge pressure on economy and ensuring a basic standard of living becomes a mammoth task. With a large percentage of illiterate unemployed youth this manifests itself as a huge problem. Its not just labor that becomes cheap in such a scenario, it is human life that becomes too inexpensive.

Hundreds and thousands of Indians work as weavers and craftsmen in leather tanneries and fire cracker factories, merely existing on peanut like pay scales. Education is the big leap that can convert this mass of unorganized cheap labor into a highly skilled professionally competitive workforce. It can alone pull up the economy from an animal like existence. The pyramid of the Indian education system needs to be strengthened at its base .

To bring up the weaker sections of the country especially the scheduled tribes and schedule caste members, who have been subjected to unjustified discrimination in the past centuries, the post –independence government has reserved seats in educational institutions and even public jobs for them. However, such affirmative action for the economically or ethically challenged groups cannot improve the scenario unless primary and secondary education is imparted efficiently. And efficiency cannot be brought in without competent teachers.

Though there is no dearth of teachers in India, there is certainly a huge disparity in the quality of education being provided. Coupled with it is the problem of absenteeism of teachers in government schools. ”The ASER2005 report also found a teacher absence rate of 25%, as in Kremer et. al. (2005)” The leniency in work ethics and job retention seems to be the possible cause. A possible way of correcting this is to form a team of highly efficient teachers in various subjects at the school level, of international standards, chosen from the best schools in the country, and video linking their classes to those in the entire district or state.

Every school will thus get the best teacher . It is easier to keep a check on the attendance and quality of education imparted by this smaller core team. To support the core team every class will have a supervising teacher . The supervising teacher is aware of the course curriculum and manages the class and is responsible for queries or problems students may face while learning from the video footage of the core team teacher. All the classes are further linked via web cams and the class proceedings are checked by the senior supervisor at the district .

This will prevent any abuse of child rights or inactivity on the part of the supervisor. Since supervisors are not engaged in teaching so they can be easily replaced by some one else. This fact will put a check on the job security that teachers in the government schools misuse. An electronic attendance board must be in place in each school to record the attendances of the students and supervisors along with entries of reasons for absenteeism. The finger impression should be registered on the e board screen to mark attendances. This system will prevent proxy.

This will be checked on a monthly basis by the block development officer . Supervisors found absent too often will be fired immediately and replaced. Weekly assignments and questionnaires of the multiple choice format should be conducted to check if certain students may require additional help. The block development officer also maintains a record of the performance of students and the senior supervisor. Another problem that this solves is the unwillingness of qualified teachers to teach in rural areas or areas dominated by the so called “untouchable “class of the Indian caste system.

Some regions of the country that are too inaccessible because of geographical features will also come under the educational umbrella. A uniform teaching structure will raise the overall educational benefit derived from classes by all children instead of just a handful or those residing in urban areas. Assessment of student’s performance and improvisation in teaching techniques will also become easier to be implemented. It has been observed that areas with inefficient public education become thriving grounds for private schools to develop irrespective of the income level. In rural Himachal Pradesh, for instance, there is a good deal of Purchasing power but the government schools function well, so that there are few private schools. While in Central Bihar, by contrast, poverty is endemic, yet private schools can be found thriving. ” (Ref: http://paa2004. princeton. edu/download. asp? submissionId=40015) In such areas this could be used to compel the public schools to become more efficient. To achieve this objective we may distribute education coupons enabling the parents to pay the fee through the coupon. This way we allow the denizens to choose the school they would like to send their wards to.

Payment of teachers should be on the basis of enrollment rates and only a part of the total salary must be fixed. If the public chooses a private school over the public one, the administration and teaching staff in the public schools will be compelled to improve their educational standards or risk being paid too little. The private sector can be brought in to open teacher training institutes . The government can join hands with the private sector and the infrastructural requirements for school and even colleges can be fulfilled on a public private partnership basis.

As the private sector comes in to build schools and other educational institutions competition among various construction companies will ensure that the government gets the best infrastructure and at the same time doesn’t have to take up the responsibility of building institutional premises. Years of patriarchal domination have lead to deterioration of the status of females in every sphere of the Indian society. The field of education is no different. The poor rates of school education go further down when it comes to female children.

To correct this fallacy in the system I suggest a penalty or tax be taken from every household denying education to its girls. The boys in such household should be barred from being sent to public schools too. Though this measure seems a tad ruthless, it becomes essential to counter the dogmatic ideas harboring in the minds of such parents. From time to time parents should be invited for workshops where the benefits of sending their daughters to school are propagated . The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the graph below: [pic] ( Ref:. http://www. gprg. rg/pubs/workingpapers/pdfs/gprg-wps-071. p) Among the various schemes that The Indian Government has implemented to raise school enrollment and to bring down the drop out rates is the Mid Day meal Scheme. This scheme uses the incentive of free lunch in public schools to lure children. There have been issues like corruption and pilferage of food at various level of distribution such that the food doesn’t reach its intended destination that has been obstructing its smooth implementation. Parents should be included and mothers should be asked to take turns to help cook the food .

Parents should be authorized and paid to supervise the quality and quantity of food coming into the school and the information be sent to an autonomous body engaged only in the distribution of food. This body should be in direct control of the state or central government food distribution scheme. The fewer are the number of check points the fewer will the chances of corruption be. This system will also help create jobs for the unemployed or seasonally employed parents. Even with a decent education many young children fail to realize their potential and talents .

Children must be made aware of the wide array of career choices through work shops conducted from time to time. A rigorous counseling session should take place prior to the school leaving exam so that they are able to identify the job most suited for them. A focused approach to career will result in higher employability as less number of them will opt for general degree courses. At the college level a massive change in the course structure needs to take place. Syllabuses and course duration and modules should not be left to indigenous scholars.

To meet international standards all the colleges and universities must get their courses restructured with the help of internationally renowned teachers and researchers. Degrees must be made flexible and of shorter duration. Internships and research work must be made compulsory to ensure employability. There is a big gap between the industrial demands and the college education. The sudden shift from theoretical knowledge to practical skills results in wastage of energy and time by both the industries and the fresh entrants. This gap needs to be narrowed . Industrial experts should be brought on board when syllabuses are being structured.

Large specialized industries requiring huge manpower input must be encouraged by the government to open specialized institutes to train students directly. Researches related to certain industries must be funded by them. This will reduce the burden on the government. This will save both time and reduce the uncertainty faced by a large section of the youth searching for jobs. In India a sort of dualism exists wherein cities are congested hubs of employment, if not in the formal then in the large informal sector, whiles the rural areas comprise huge sections of underemployed, largely illiterate populace engaged in farming.

There are many areas which are cultivated only for a part of the year and single cropping is practiced. In the off-season there is migration from these regions into the already congested cities. This migration could be reduced if the farmers where engaged in educational workshops . Such workshops should be conducted to make farmers aware of rural banking procedures and schemes, improved farming technologies, multi- cropping and HYV seed varieties. Basic language courses to teach them how to write and read and use basic calculation techniques could be included.

This way financial asymmetry prevalent in the rural areas can be reduced. Farmers aware of better farm procedures can improve the output of their farmlands and thus raise their incomes. The farmers could be engaged in government sponsored land reclamation projects or other rural projects. The bureaucracy is another place where the government could bring in specialist and employ them in specific roles instead of allowing all graduates to sit for entrances for jobs in the administration, revenue collection or accounts departments.

This will save unnecessary wastage of time and money in recruiting and training general category job applicants. A large number of graduates keep preparing for these entrances and remain unemployed till the minimum age requirement (30 years) has crossed, in their quest to obtain a secure and prestigious government job. Conclusion: India is geographically vast and demographically huge with a large number of problems. A single solution is not possible to restructure and improve its educational and employment scenario . It requires a variety of solutions for various regions and sections to attain a higher educational growth path.

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