Lt. General Rajender Singh, CEO, DLF Foundation, talks about his views on the education sysytem in India and his vision to provide quality education to every Indian child.
Do you think allowing foreign universities in India will boost the overall education sector and how?
I think in that context bringing in foreign university to come and operate in India would probably be a step in the right direction. You have a lot to learn from the others. The system in our country, the educational system is by and large, particularly in higher education is not bad, it is rather good, but there is a tremendous scope for improvement and I think this bringing in of foreign universities will certainly be a step in that direction.
What according to you are the reasons for variation in the education system in India and other Asian countries?
Our system has evolved over a period of time; both our school and college education system has been modeled on the British Education system. A child starts from nursery and carries on till secondary school and thereafter goes on to college and finishes his education without any expertise in any particular trade as such. Whereas in other countries, particularly the developed world the emphasis is more on finishing the high school and after finishing high school to find avenues for specializing in the kind of work they want to undertake and then the graduation actually meets the demand and covers those fields. Percentage of population that goes in for graduation in the developed world is not that substantial when compared to the ratio of students in our country. What I am talking about is the ratio of students who after completing their higher secondary schools enroll for graduation. The intention of the education system is to make them a better citizen, and thereafter make them specialized and ready for the job market. After senior secondary there are large numbers of professional colleges but most of the students undertake the general Art and Science education.
What is your opinion on Private education vs Public education?
Actually the opinion is mixed. Private education can be very good; especially in school education it is quite good in general. Public education has deteriorated in the recent past, due to lack of discipline in managing these institutions. School education in particular. As far as college education system is concerned the position is reverse. There are public institutions that are imparting education which is par excellence. But the same cannot be said about Private institutions. Most institutions run courses and churn out massive numbers of graduates who are unemployable.
Where are we lagging behind?
India’s higher educational system has always been very well-recognized. However, as far as what needs to be done is concerned, our primary and middle school education needs a drastic overhaul. A lot has improved, but still a lot needs to be done. I am glad that various schemes have been initiated to promote education for all, especially girls. The economy as well our nation will grow only when every girl child reaches school, and gets quality education.
What are your expectations from the budget this year in terms of education?
This year’s Budget is focused in the right direction; it has devoted substantial schemes on to our rural sector, which is highly significant and commendable. A sum of an additional 1,000 Crore for higher education will act like a booster shot. Scheme to promote entrepreneurship for SC/STs by keeping aside 500 crores is a great boost. The announcement to make private and public educational system world-class is an exemplary step and long-due. Moreover, digital depository of all academic records is a much-needed push towards digitization.
What according to you are the reasons for lack of education for the underprivileged in our country?
Struggles for ‘roti, kapda and makaan’ explains why substantial amount of our population doesn’t have education as its top priority. Every child is looked at as an earning hand. Lots needs to be done to make sure every child gets quality education.
How do you see yourself instrumental in changing the face of the entire modus operandi?
We are only making a humble contribution, and the kind of projects that the DLF organization has taken up are of national priority and urgency. Honestly, I am a great optimist. India has changed over a period of time. We have to see how the potential of our highly motivated youth needs to be tapped. Unless we find good jobs for them, unless we train them with specific skills to earn a good living, I think we would not be heading in the right direction. Majority of school-dropouts happens at mid-school level, so we have started Nurturing Talent Program. Here, we build schools for slum-dwellers and their kids. We pick up the bright kids from underprivileged class, put them in school, and take care of their needs. This is where we see DLF making humble but significant contribution. NGOs and Corporates are coming together to contribute in whatever capacity they can. We have to build this nation together and ensure that our efforts are in line with national priority.
How are all the above mentioned factors responsible in changing the education in India?
If most of our population is educated, they will definitely be more innovative. More skilled means better jobs. Output and productivity will improve. This will be a great catalyst in India’s leap towards becoming a developed nation sooner than any of us are expecting.