Can India educate its workforce?

Now India’s economy is growing at a rate of about 6% per year, and its GDP ranks among the highest in the world. India’s tech industry is booming, and green businesses are rolling out solar panels. Many multinationals are drawn to India: Goldman Sachs just held a board meeting in India.

may make the economy hit the stop button

An aging global population and India’s large youth cohort of about 500 million people under the age of 20 should be additional impetus for India. Yet, as we’ve reported, despite the credentials of India’s bright elite, most Indians remain poorly educated. Unskilled, unemployed young people risk bringing India’s economic development to a premature halt.

India has made some progress in improving services for the poor. The government’s digital plan simplifies the distribution of banking services and entitlement payments. In terms of education, India invests heavily in infrastructure. Ten years ago, only 1/3 of public schools had handwashing facilities and only about half had electricity, now about 90% have both. Since 2014, nearly 400 universities have opened in India, and enrollment in higher education has increased by a fifth.

However, measures to improve school buildings and expand student numbers went so far. India still does a terrible job of ensuring that young people in the classroom have basic skills.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, less than half of Indian 10-year-olds could read a simple story, even though most of them had been sitting in classrooms for years. The school has been closed for more than two years because of the epidemic, which made the bad situation worse.

Insufficient basic courses

There are many explanations for the above situation. The timetable is so full that there is so little time for basic subjects like math and reading and writing that children who cannot master these basics will never learn anything else. Lack of training and supervision of teachers: A large survey of rural Indian schools found that a quarter of teacher training is absent. Indian officials have sometimes handed over unrelated responsibilities to teachers, from managing elections to maintaining social distancing rules during the pandemic.

These problems have led many families to send their children to private schools, which educate about 50% of Indian children.

Models from other countries can be learned

It has been hoped that India’s tech industry will revolutionize education. However, relying solely on this industry is risky. In recent weeks, the valuation of BYJU’S, India’s largest edtech company by far, has plummeted due to financial troubles. The company claims to provide education and training to more than 150 million people around the world, and its market value once reached 22 billion US dollars.

All of this makes overhauling public schools all the more urgent. India should invest more in education. Spending on education was just 2.9 percent of gross domestic product last year, below international standards. However, India also needs to take inspiration from the models of other developing countries in Asia and reform the way the education system works.

As we reported, Vietnamese students have been running ahead of students from many rich countries for a decade in international tests. Even counting homework, Vietnamese kids spend less time in class than Indian kids. Here’s the difference: Teachers in Vietnam are better prepared and experienced, and they’re more likely to be held accountable if students fail.

With the right leadership, India can follow suit. For example, more comprehensive information on how students actually learn can be collected. Today’s India is busy building roads, tech parks, airports and factories, but it also needs to build its human capital.

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