By K V Sagar
23 September, 2005
is no more a recent phenomenon in the world's socio-economic system.
The impact of globalisation has been uneven and responses to it are
varied in terms of its positive and negative dimensions the world over.
Initial enthusiasm for globalization as a beneficial set of processes
has yielded to an understanding that the phenomenon is largely associated
with increasing social inequality within and between countries as well
as instability and conflict. Thus, it is time to assess the impact of
globalization on India's economy, as it has not yielded any spectacular
outcomes. While it has expedited the pace of development in some areas,
it has led to certain absurdities in others. Therefore, it is necessary
that steps should be taken to reduce, if not remove, its baneful fall
out. Globalization has a multi-dimensional impact on the system of education.
It has underlined the need for reforms in the educational system with
particular reference to the wider utilization of information technology,
giving productivity dimension to education and emphasis on its research
and development activities.
Education is an
important investment in building human capital that is a driver for
technological innovation and economic growth. It is only through improving
the educational status of a society that the multi-faceted development
of its people can be ensured. In the post-industrialized world, the
advanced countries used to derive the major proportion of their national
income not from agriculture and industry but from the service sector.
Since the service sector is based on imparting skills or training to
the students and youth, the education sector is the most sought after.
It must provide gainful employment so that the sector is developed in
a big way. It has also given rise to controversies relating to introducing
changes in the inter-sectoral priorities in the allocation of resources
leading to the misconceived policy of downsizing of higher education.
It has also advocated privatization of higher education without realizing
the danger of making the system a commercial enterprise.
as a service industry, is part of globalization process under the umbrella
of General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). However, there is
every possibility that this might force countries with quite different
academic needs and resources to conform to systems inevitably designed
to service the interest of corporate educational providers, and thereby
breeding inequality and dependence. Thus, several teachers organizations
are on record opposing the inclusion of education in the GATS, on the
ground that education was not a commodity. Incidentally, there is an
emerging threat from the process of globalization in the recent times.
Because, in the words of Arun Nigvekar of the World Banks Task
Force, 2000, Globalization can lead to unregulated and poor quality
higher education, with the world wide marketing of fraudulent degrees
or other so-called higher education credentials. It seems that
countries like India, are likely to turn into an increasingly
attractive market for foreign universities and hence other nations are
going to use GATS provisions to their advantage.
T.W.Schultz and Gary Becker in 1961 and 1963 respectively propounded
the new economics of education. According to this, all investments in
education, be they private or public, were guided by profitability.
It was the profit motive that exhibited in the concern for the rate
of return to the money spent on education, which was the main
factor, behind ones investment decisions in education. The private
investments were based on the private rates of return calculated
by counting the private costs and gains that were expected as the result
of acquiring one kind of education rather than the other. The objective
of education was the same, be it for individual or for society as a
whole, to get the best economic value for the money and effort spent.
Rather, there is high drop out rate, called as a key symptom of the
systems inability to reform itself.
In any case, it
is difficult to assess not only the nature and dimensions of globalization,
but also what it means to the field of education. Apparently, not many
educational researchers have attempted to make connections between the
several dimensions of globalization and the policies of education. It
appears that the globalization process may mean different things in
the context of Higher education. Most certainly, it means a very competitive
and deregulated educational system modelled after free-market
but with more pressure on it to assure that the future workers is prepared
for some fluid jobs in the free-market of 21st century.
Further it means that educational system would provide the sites of
struggle over the meaning and power of national identity and a national
Sadly, the Human Development Report of UNDP indicates that India had
the largest national population of illiterates in the world. Thus, it
may be recalled that it was Gokhale who advocated making primary education
free and compulsory 94 years ago. Even the Article 45 of the Indian
Constitution that promised for free and compulsory education within
the first decade of our Independence, achieved very little, partly due
its non-judicial character. However, the Education Commission further
hoped that all the areas of the country should be able to provide
five years of good effective education to all the children by 1975-76
an seven years of such education by 1985-86. The simple calculations
of free and compulsory education were never gone into though all realized
that the total cost would be enormous. Obviously, the Indias Education
Commission (1964-66) under the leadership of D.S.Kothari and J.P.Naik
as the Chairman and Member-Secretary that laid the foundation of post-Independent
Indias national education policy. Thus, the Commission had recommended
that 6%, as against 3%, of the national income be allotted as government
expenditure on education.
Decades of under-investment
in education have created shocking shortages of buildings, laboratories,
libraries, sanitary facilities and even drinking water and sanitation
facilities in the nations decaying education sector. Though the
finance minister cites shortage of investible resources for implementing
the 6 percent proposal, it is common knowledge that given political
will, additional resources can be deployed into education only by trimming
non-merit subsidies to the middle class, and reducing defense expenditure.
In the final analysis a national consensus has to be built immediately
by the Union ministry on the premise that higher education outlays are
important investments in the nations future. Besides, the emerging
political consensus that seeks to reform Indias traditional education
based on mere memorization rather than development of problem-solving
and conflict-resolution skills requires immediate attention.
The new United Progressive
Alliance (UPA) governments stand on a common school system for
India that was recommended by the Kothari Commission (1966) is yet to
be decided. The children of the poor and socially disadvantaged have
been denied English medium school education. As usual there is no re-thinking
on this issue within the Union ministry. However, Rajiv Gandhi introduced
the National Policy on Education in 1986(NPE-1986) and its accompanying
Programme of Action that promised child-centered, free and compulsory
education up to the age of 14 yeas by 1995. Interestingly, the revised
formulation of such NPE, made in the 1992, also talked about the same
theme of free and compulsory education, and thereafter it focused on
satisfactory quality education! Even the 86th constitutional
amendment act in 2002 that made the elementary education a fundamental
right and has promised the same education to all those between the ages
6 and 14 in the country. But then reverse of what had been promised
became a reality now.
Recent Trends: In
the wake of globalisation process and to cope up with the changing priorities
of the people, the planners are bound to revise their strategies in
the education sector. Thus, several specialist committees, involving
the elites and captains of industry and education, constituted by the
Union ministry are engaged in the process. Whereas, the public interest
demands a wider domain for the national debate on syllabus and curriculum
reform among other related aspects. As usual there are several viewpoints
of conflicting nature expressed by the captains of industry and education
like Azim Premji, Prof.N.S.Ramaswamy, Kabir Mustafa and others. While
there is a broad consensus on some points, some are almost at variance
with each other. The common educational reforms that were endorsed by
some of the eminent industrialists and academics include:
Liberalise and deregulate
the education system to encourage promotion of new schools, colleges,
vocational and other institutions of higher education.
Delicence higher education, confer institutional autonomy and decentralise
Central and state governments should change their roles within the education
system, re-inventing themselves as facilitating and supervisory organisations.
Teacher training, infrastructure and syllabuses need to be urgently
The rapid growth
of the software development and electronic communications industries
is one of the few achievements of Indian industry in post-independence
India. Further, because of strong hold of the English language in MNCs
and corporate circles, the divide between rural and urban is almost
complete in the field of education. In consequence, this great reservoir
of skills and expertise offers the opportunity to utilize them for the
spread of quality education through several technologies. Obviously,
F.C. Kohli, the vice chairman of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) recommended,
"Through the wider use of computers and technology, curriculums
and faculties can be shared by schools and colleges across the country".
Again the pace is set by a variety of private educational entrepreneurs,
otherwise known as, edupreneurs, who have promoted internationally
recognized institutions of higher education such as the S.P. Jain Institute
of Management in Mumbai; Amity University, Delhi; Indian School of Business
and ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad; Mahavir Academy of Technical Sciences
and Presidency College, Bangalore and the Great Lakes Institute of Management,
Chennai, among others. Besides, some Indian edupreneur are
venturing overseas. These are all certain recent trends that undermine
the very social obligations of our governments.
Initiatives of Central
Government: This urgent flood of activity within the existing lethargic
education sector has ensured that the vital importance of qualitative
education has permeated down to the lowest income groups across the
country. Incidentally it was Rajiv Gandhi who was instrumental in laying
the foundations of a scheme known as the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.
As part of it more than 500 residential schools were established in
rural India. Simultaneously it has focused public attention upon hitherto
mysterious subjects such as syllabus design and curriculum development
and shifted national attention from ritual to really quality education.
Suddenly mere degrees are not as important as skills that school leavers
and college graduates must acquire within their institutions of learning.
indifference and unwillingness to engage in constructive debate, a characteristic
of the present UPA government as much as it was of its predecessor BJP-led
NDA administration is glaring. However, education and healthcare have
been given top priority in the agenda of the UPAs National Advisory
Council (NAC). Obviously, there is a glaring evidence of the rising
tide of anxiety about the quantity and quality of education being noticeable,
as is indicated by the unprecedented provision made in the Union budget
last year. Thus, Union finance minister P. Chidambaram committed to
imposing a two percent cess on all Central taxes and by promising to
raise the annual education outlay to 6 percent of GDP. The UPA governments
two percent cess may help to raise the additional funds
for education. The additional revenue expected this year seems to be
used to upgrade education levels in the country. Additional safeguards
that the ministry taking to ensure optimal deployment of the incremental
revenue for primary education are still mysterious.
In fact, the introduction of cost recovery principles that
results in a hike in fees contributes to reduction in the burden of
the government in financing higher education. But, what about social
obligations? Obviously, the composition of student population will change
in favor of the higher income groups. Further, privatization of higher
education makes it expensive such that it is beyond the reach of lower
income groups. Inadequate income implies denial of opportunity of the
benefits of higher education whereas the denial of access to higher
education results in the lack of fair opportunities to improve income.
Further, market needs should be kept in view while developing the curriculum.
The element of productivity orientation should guide the formulation
of curriculum framework. It is also necessary that while deciding about
the fee structure and other student levies, the tendency towards commercialization
of education should be guarded against.
In fact, the economic
reforms have resulted in freezing the public funds to many institutions
and in stagnating the expenditure on education. Thus, educational sector
has been more commonly described as, not service sector, but education
industry. The free market philosophy has already entered the educational
sphere in a big way. Commercialization of education is the order of
the day. Commercial institutions offering specialized education have
come up everywhere. In view of globalisation, many corporate universities,
both foreign and Indian, are encroaching upon our government institutions.
Once these institutions turn self-financing, their prices
would be benchmarked against their global counterparts, which would
be affordable to the same top layer of the society. As the job markets
become acutely narrow, the polarization between the elite and non-elite
would be clearly discernible. Meanwhile, various kinds of price barriers
would be imposed to prevent the entry of the non-elite like the downtrodden
and poor communities. Further, Corporatisation has transformed the education
sector into an enterprise for profits.
Thanks to Dr.Ambedkar,
the government policy of reservations in education and employment spheres
has played a remarkable role for Dalits and Adivasis. The constitutional
provision that merely envisages a proportionate representation of them
as to their population, not beyond that, is subjected to half-hearted
approach. Suffice it to remember the failure of their representation
in government jobs, so as to vindicate this observation. Whatever be
the criticism, the reservation facilities have given certain economic
means of livelihood to over 1.5 million Dalits, for instance. Besides,
over 50,000 Dalits could enter the field of government authority so
far. Obviously, over a period of time these physical benefits have instilled
some confidence in Dalit community. Now, due to the globalisation policies
the winds of change in the name of Economic Reforms has
slowly shaken the very foundations of the Dalits. Wherever these reforms
were carried out, denationalization of the public sector and privatization
have been introduced. In consequence, more than any one else it is Dalits
who would be the first ones to be affected very adversely in terms of
no reservation in private sector.
Finally, these reforms
envisage the withdrawal of state from its social obligations once for
all. Thus, each country should decide about the nature and extent of
globalization that can be constructively introduced in their socio-economic
and educational systems. While it is difficult to resist the temptation
of falling in line with the international community, it is necessary
that while doing so, the paramountcy of national interests should be
kept in view. This is more so in the field of education, which is intimately
concerned with the development of human capital. Ultimately, any hasty
involvement in the global educational market can end up in harming the
vital interests of students, and particularly of poor and downtrodden
for generations to come.
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