Decadal growth of the Indian population is averagely 10% of this more than 60% live in rural parts. Also, India is enjoying the demographic advantage, as more than 60% of the population is below 35 years of age. This creates big opportunities in the education sector, particularly in higher education. To progress on the economic front, when the young workforce is available at disposal any country will like to focus itself on education. However, Indian government expenditure is almost stagnant, that means efforts are not as good as those required. This creates a gap between the supply and demand conditions of higher education.
In most of the countries basic education is freely provided by governments, but in India, it is not available and if it is then its perceived quality is inferior to the private education. And private education being costly not everyone can afford it. High absenteeism and dropouts from the various stages of education are the critical factors in the rural education system. More the underdeveloped area, which is majorly a rural part, more the problem and one can understand the fact as the government in 2016 stated, in the parliament, that per capita income in rural parts is 40% of urban income.
Lack of quality infrastructure, qualified teachers, innovative practices and pedagogies are making things difficult to improve in rural areas. MHRD in its report admitted that these problems are proving too costly for the girls, particularly in higher education as the enrollment of girls in such programs is very less compared to the boys if compared against primary education.
Enrollment for professional courses is by far means lesser than conventional streams and the employability through these regular streams is not encouraging. But, due to the high cost of professional education students are not able to take it up. Personally, students from rural parts have shared the challenges faced by them when they come to cities for studying higher education. Though financial support is available, it’s not enough as the cost of living in cities is something unaffordable to the students coming from rural parts.
In developed countries students seek higher education by drawing loan, almost 50%, in India, this rate is below 5%. But, that is cheaper for them wherein in India it is more than three times costly. Hence it becomes unaffordable for the aspirants, here prominent education institutions could build a system by offering quality education at a reasonable cost.
In 2013 the government allowed foreign universities to start their own programs in India. But, the fine idea remained fine on paper due to political interventions and bureaucratic barriers. If these universities could come and offer better courses most of the challenges, like – infrastructure, quality trainers, advance literature, enrollment disparity, etc. will get addressed.
Despite looking at all odds one cannot say that there is no scope for the improvement. There is a good amount of mobile literacy amongst youngsters and the penetration of telecommunication network is also good enough, 56%, to start e-education.
MOOC courses have changed the education paradigm across the globe by offering a variety of courses. Some experiments in Jawahar Navoday Vidyalayas suggests that use of technology has resulted in marked improvement in students’ attention in the classroom and reduction in the absenteeism. This has helped in uplifting performance and knowledge enhancement of students. And there are truly excellent domestic education institutes and as mentioned above foreign institutes are also interested, together which could reach out to the rural parts by offering e-education.
Video lectures, online study materials, mock tests, e-libraries, student exchange programs, live projects designing along with companies from the nearby places, and weekend classes by a faculty of reputed institutions could be considered as an innovative alternative to decode the challenges from rural higher education. If there would be any financial issues in implementing the ideas, CSR funds of companies from the region could also be raised.
Initial challenges, like – technically expert teachers, regional languages, and customized curriculum could be deterrent. Offering universal literature using common pedagogies don’t give the learning experience to the rural students, most often that result into loss of interest in education, hence customization become key. So, established institutions could definitely come to rescue. These institutions can lend helping hand to the capable teachers in the area and can become an architect to implement bank, which could fulfil any kind of operational, technical or financial needs of the existing institutions.
Progress is not easy and will not speed up despite the successful presence of NGOs and volunteers. As against that established institutions already have some or other core competencies which could be leveraged from the beginning. And a most important part of this initiative is to make it sustainable, once again education houses score better of others by continuously excel in the field.
These are not new things, rather most of the people associated with higher education know it since last few years. Still, there is less progress in developing education in rural India. Hence, now every established education institution of repute must come forward and take up the responsibility.