India of the ancient times was labelled the Golden Bird. We had gathered immense wealth not limited to monetary gains since our real wealth lay in the gamut of practical, spiritual and philosophical knowledge. From the time of Nalanda University in the 5th Century C.E., India attracted scholars, students and thinkers from around the world for education to its Centres of Learning, Gurukulas, Viharas or Madarsas, to study, share ideas and debate on myriad topics.
Since the establishment of the first college by the British in 1818, there was a shift from indigenous education towards a different brand of education. Schools were focused on the elite and churned out individuals to staff the rigid bureaucratic administration.
With the onset of the 21st Century, our glorious history of education is gone. The Indian education system has been unable to evolve with time. We have become one of the world’s largest ‘importers’ of education. Majority of the youth migrating to the US, Europe, Australia and the UK in pursuit of higher education.
Recent technological advancement has made many jobs redundant and created new jobs. These structural shifts in employment in the Indian economy demand qualified individuals who are innovative and globally. Without the right training and research, India will not be able to reap the benefits of these economical and global shifts. Even with its large workforce and increasing pool of the ‘demographic divided’.
Primary schooling serves other purposes than teaching reading and math. The indicators on these two basic skills are not encouraging. An encouraging sign is that enrolment rates in primary schools are over 90%. However, a meagre fraction of these students move up to higher classes. High schools face many of the same quality problems as the primary schools. With enrolment so low, quality does not even come into the picture.
CSR could be the answer to the gap in education. Companies like Piramal, Samsung, Dell and Ford India are working with the government in various States to bring Indian education back to its glory days.