“Education is the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world.” This beautiful thought had been voiced out by Nelson Mandela, and is so true in fact, that it still strikes a chord within us now.
The world cannot progress or change in any way unless the people make a step to do so, and they would not know what step to take or how to take it unless they were educated.
On the basis of size, India has the third largest higher educational system in the world, next to China and to United States. It has grown rapidly after achieving independence.
In terms of the number of educational institutes, India has an upper rank in the world. Even the Constitution of India, under various articles, commands that free and compulsory education be provided to children between the ages of 6 and 14 as a fundamental right.
The Education system in India consists of three phases as funding, philanthropic to public and then to private financing. The changing patterns have altered the regulations, equity, efficiency and quality of higher education. This has led to privatization of education on a large scale.
What is privatization of education?
In India, there are two types of schools – the government owned and aided ones, and the privately owned and managed schools. The government owned schools are not known to provide the standard of education and the excellent facilities available at and offered by the privately owned schools to the students.
Another drawback of the government owned schools is that most wards drop out after just a few years of education. One of the most important causes of this phenomenon is because of the paucity and lack of employment opportunities for the educated youth of India, especially from the rural areas.
Even after receiving a postgraduate degree, most youth must sit at home without a job. If this has to be the case, and the youth get only menial occupation opportunities in spite of being educated, then it is thought to be better to spend school time working instead in that sector and gaining some experience. Education is such a situation becomes more of a method of wasting time and is not given much importance.
Advantages of Privatizing Higher Education
Due to structural adjustment program going on globally, many countries are trying to explore alternative sources other than the public treasury for various development programmes. In the context of higher education, advocacy of private financing has become increasingly common.
It cannot be denied that most private institutes provide much better schooling facilities in comparison to the government owned institutes. In fact, most privately owned institutes specialize in a variety of boards, including ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education), CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), or even IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education).
Government schools as a rule specialize only in SSC (Secondary School Certificate). As a result, government owned schools focus on simplified portion, that too often rote learned whereas the latter focuses on practical applications, laboratory experiments and real life skills.
Another reason why government schools are not preferred over private institutes is because of the teachers employed. Most teachers at public schools are given a pittance of a salary and are hence, hardly motivated to work well. When teachers do not report to school, or even stay home from work often, students fail to show up too, learning by example, or simply wasting away their day.
On the other hand, since a lot of students drop out for reasons mentioned before, some teachers feel disillusioned and leave their jobs as well. This leaves the students who are actually willing to learn and motivated to get a true education, in the lurch. In this way, the whole process of education is devalued and reduced to nothing more than a farce.
Another major advantage that private institutes have is that it will end reservations and minority quota forever. At most government owned institutes, more than 50 % of the seats were for minority quota. This seems unfair in several ways.
Disadvantages of Privatizing Higher Education
Although there are a lot of pros to privatizing higher education, it has its fair share of cons too. Most of the higher education institutes in the country are already owned by private individuals. There are very few higher education institutes owned by government.
These private institutes charge inexplicably high amount of fees and only a few of them justify with the amount charged by providing quality education whereas in government institutes fess is low and there are limited number of seats. Also, admissions in government institutes take place on merit basis but this is not so in private institutes, where admissions are often on the basis of donations to the school.
They are often more professional and profit driven than inclined to be a good place for studying. Privatization of education simply means that government is having less control over the higher education sector and letting the private organizations work with complete autonomy.
Although the quality of education can be more refined, however it still limits the check on these organizations, whose primary aim is not education but simply business that comes at the cost of high-end fees, commercialisation of education and even misuse of power. There is also financial unaccountability, as these centres can then become places for illicit trading of money.
The concept of privatization of higher education is completely against the constitution of India which promises to give everyone equal opportunities without any discrimination. This is true because of the scenario in private institutions where one handful of money buys better access to education.
Somehow, it gives the impression that a son of a farmer cannot dream high or rather, can only stay a farmer. Only the one with an affluent family backing him up and more connections can carve out their path in fields involving higher studies. It leaves the poor with nothing more than unfulfilled dreams. Hence, there will be a degradation in the quantity of graduates.
To quote Bill Gates, “Research shows that there is only half as much variation in student achievement between schools as there is among classrooms in the same school. If you want your child to get the best education possible, it is actually more important to get him assigned to a great teacher than to a great school.”
Education is a task which should consider all around development of alumni whereas private owned educational institutes are only concerned with high standards of behaviour more than moral, ethical, and emotional values. In the real world, there is a greater need for the ethically concerned ones in order to make ourselves comfortable.
Education is not a business as most of the privatized universities seem to practice. It should be all-inclusive, not exclusive. If one has the skills, he/she should be able to pursue their dreams no matter what status he or she belongs to.
Over the past six decades, India made considerable efforts in the field of higher education. Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management have emerged as the institutes of excellence although they are government owned universities.
In order for the higher education of students to improve further, the best way would be for the public and private sector to work together.
Only then they will be able to take in more students and also obtain more funding from the government, which will make their facilities less expensive.
The important task in present scenario is to impart better and quality education. Children are the nation builders of the future and it is necessary to mould them into the good citizens. We need to provide them with the proper tools of education so that they can become the pillar of the nation’s growth.