Education: Need Of The Hour

Budget needs to provide funds for vocational education, ensure availability of virtual teachers

A look at the recommendations of India Inc in the field of education.

Dr Santanu Paul, CEO, TalentSprint

A National Vocational Education Loan Scheme Needed: Large scale skill development and vocational education is the mega policy challenge of our times with 500 million Indian youth in need of skill interventions in the next 10 years. The last two budgets were instrumental in setting up and funding the National Skill Development Corporation, which within a very short span of time has done a yeoman's job of forging public-private partnerships and co-incubating for-profit business models with entrepreneurs to attack skill development and employability on a large scale.

It would be fantastic if Budget 2012 took this mission to the next level by incorporating additional ambitious ideas. The time is ripe for a national vocational education loan scheme that will make young job seekers eligible for small-ticket bank financing in the range of 10-50K so that anyone canaccess a quality skill development program of their choosing irrespective of financial means and start repaying the loan once they have secured a job. We already have college education loans in place and we know 80 per cent of our college graduates are unemployable at the end of it; so why not create a lean andlaser-focused national vocational education loan scheme that creates realemployability? For sure, industry would welcome such a move as it would unlock supply side constraints on skilled talent.

To that end, the government can use Budget 2012 to direct public sector banks to make vocational education loans a priority lending sector item. Instead of various ministries pouring big money down the drain year after year in the form of direct subsidies to mediocre training organisations and NGOs that are not accountable for employment outcomes, let the government park funds with banks to provide a default guarantee for only the 10-25 per cent of the vocational education loans that may go bad. That way, the nation would get 4-5X the leverage in terms of skill development impact compared to what we have today.

Rajiv Bhalla, AVP & Country Head, Sales & Marketing, NEC India (IT)

Learning Anytime, Anywhere: 

While we talk of sustainability and growth, one factor to impact the economy very strongly is proliferation and raising the standard of education in the country. With the emergence of increasingly robust connectivity infrastructure and cheaper computers, school systems around the world are developing the ability to provide learning opportunities to students "anytime, anywhere".  This trend requires a rethinking of the traditional 40 minute lesson.  

In addition to hardware and Internet access, it requires the availability of virtual mentors or teachers, and/or opportunities for peer to peer and self-paced, deeper learning. A few more things that we perceive will change the face of education in India would be cloud computing, ubiquitous learning, one-to-one learning to name a few. 

The trend in classrooms is to provide an information appliance to every learner and create learning environments that assumes universal access to technology. Whether the hardware involved a laptop, interactive devised such as a projector, a net computer, smart phone, or the re-emergence of the tablet, classrooms should prepare for the universal availability of personal learning devices. We hope to see a great role of the government in bringing about this transformation. With government funded initiatives such as Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan, the IT sector will get a chance to implement technology services to ensure highest levels of delivery.

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