The education sector in India is in ferment, hit by a storm long waiting to happen. The butterfly that flapped its wings and triggered a cyclone, to borrow a metaphor from chaos theory, was Nasscom’s much-reiterated statement that hardly a fourth of graduating engineers, and an even smaller percentage of other graduates, was of employable quality for IT-BPO jobs. Similar views echoed by other sectors have led to widespread debate. Increased industry-academia interaction, ”finishing schools”, and other efforts were initiated as immediate measures to bridge skill deficits. Some, however, felt that these are but band-aid solutions; instead, radical systemic reform is necessary.
The National Knowledge Commission, though a government-appointed body, has drawn criticism from the establishment for recommending structural changes in the educational system. Suggestions by this writer for creating, on a limited-experiment basis, special education zones with minimal regulation and permitting for-profit corporate educational institutes drew considerable interest, but even greater flak. Now, the Yash Pal committee has made some radical suggestions, including the replacement of UGC, AICTE and other regulatory bodies by a single one: the Higher Education and Research Council. The opposition to this might be greatly muted by the strong support already indicated by HRD minister Kapil Sibal, and equally by the public exposure through CBI raids and action of long-known corruption in AICTE.
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