Open Letter to Education Minister : Ideas & Suggestion for Improvement of Higher Education

Dear Ms Smriti Irani Madam,

Tough you would receive incremental ideas on how to reform the Education system from your officials and other.  I would like to suggest few transformational (according to my views) ideas which have potential to capture the ‘Demographic Dividend’.

I have no claimed expertise on Education Policy but giving these ideas based on common sense and my own experience so far.

A Brief Background of myself: I am Vijaypal Bishnoi. I come from a Rural Village in Bikaner District of Rajasthan. I have done my primary schooling in government school in village. Later I got selected for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya where I completed Education upto XII. Then I got selected for IIT Bombay and completed B.Tech in Civil Engineering along with Honours in Energy Science and Engineering. I have also done two years job in Private Sector.

So far I have been beneficiary of Government education & it’s due to quality government education that people like me from Rural Background with not much exposure are able to achieve best of higher education.

So first suggestion to you is – focus on improving the access and quality of Public Education (I m not talking of Public Schools but Government Education!). Private Sector can only complement not supplement the government in Education sector which has many positive externalities and is a public good.

Main Ideas

  • Focus on Neo-Literate & First generation Learners: One on encouraging the seats to poorest of poor irrespective of caste, community and religion to promote the access of quality education to last mile (fulfilling the Gandhi & DeenDayal Upadhyay’s Philosophy of serving the last man). This could be started by giving priority to students who’s both parents are not-graduate. This would surely help the neo-literate and first generational learners from every community. This could be initially done on experimental basis/pilot basis with few seats reserved in each courses for such students. 
  • Focus on Establishing Multi-Disciplinary Central University more than IITs: Firstly,while it is alright to establish the more IITs and other institute of quality education but a review must be taken to access the difficulties faced by recent new IITs in terms of faculty crunch, lack of infrastructure, lack of funding other related issues. The background information would be available with your ministry. Rather than reinventing the wheels the existing institution should be upgrade in terms of infrastructure and better facilities for better results.
  • Second, there is no dearth of technical personnel’s in country but there is surely shortage of person with multi-dimensional skill set to tackle the pressing issues facing the country like Development challenge in most deprived regions of country , National Security, Cyber Security, Educational Professional, Public Health Administrator, Urban Managers, Public Policy Experts etc.  
  • Thirdly, there is no quality Central university exist as of now in country, expect may be Delhi University & JNU (*with its own bias & exclusionary nature). Most of them operate with outdated syllabus, departmentalisation & bureaucracy calling the shot.
  • Multidisciplinary Central Universities (MCU), starting with 2-3 in this Budget, should be opened with focus on multi-disciplinary approach to tackle the problem nation faces
  • o They should be mission driven university with focus on inter-disciplinary learning rather than compartmentalisation and departmentalisation prevailing in existing universities.
  • o specific domains/charter 
  • They should focus on imparting quality learning in sync with changing and dynamic nature of 21st century and developmental challenges facing the country.
  • o Besides creating talent pools to address the issues facing the country, they should act as ‘laboratory of innovative experimentation’ with new models to solve the misery of deprived people of India.
  • o To develop context specific and localised models of development to address the issues specific to India rather than importing the not so suitable developmental models from west.
  • o They should provide opportunities for students to excel in their area of interest with multi-disciplinary approach utilising cross- disciplinary knowledge. So these universities need to house multiple disciplines from arts, science, and commerce to Engineering, Medical and Management.
  • o  Beside the Inter-departmental collaboration which should be reflected in their design & charter itself, they should be promoted to pursue collaboration with existing institutions ranging from Universities, Civil Society, Local government, State Governments and Central governments. 
  • ‘Talent Scout Programme’ in each university or selected few university on pilot basis. Under this scheme, a programme officer would select the talent individuals (in starting their number could be 50-100) from across the country (especially from rural areas and difficult geographies like NE, tribal areas and least developed blocks in country) and provide them with necessary grooming in terms of their communication skill, language ability and personality and help them to pursue their higher studies in their inherent interest. Admission of these Talented Individuals selected by programme officer to top quality institute can be recommended by Education Minister or Prime Minister under special quota with full scholarship to cover the cost of education and other expenses. This would multiplier impact. The selected individual would act as Change agent and create a hope in most deprived that they can pursue best of available education and achieve their dreams and contribute in nation building.
  • Need to Provide Next Phase of Growth to JNV System
  • o  Open Additional JNVs in Each District: One successful model in School education in recent years has been ‘Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya’ established as part of New Education Policy 1986. These are centrally funded residential school from VI to XII with aim to impart quality education and produce Good Citizens for country for people from Rural Background irrespective of income & community consideration. The output and productivity has more than expected. But they remain ‘Islands of Excellence’ within a wider education system which is in disarray. Presently there is One JNV in each District. There is need to Increase it to Two in next 5 Years and eventually to have one in each Block.  The Companies as part of CSR obligation should be allowed to contribute to establishing & running the Scheme.
  • Establish JNV University: After 12th, students from JNV faced many hurdles. Due to financial constraints of their parents, coming from poor rural background, they are not able to pursue quality higher education despite being among bunch of most talented individuals from district. They are forced to opt out or opt for regular ‘redundant’’ courses like BA. This is clear underutilisation of meritorious talent despite spending considerable money in their school education. Such capable and talented students should be provided opportunity to pursue quality higher education so that their talent can be fully utilised. One such logical extension to JNV System of Education can be ‘Establishment of JNV University’ with multi-disciplinary focuses.
  • It would serve the multiple purposes
  • o  People from different parts of country would come together in this university as JNV are spread across the country. Thus promoting the National Integration.
  • o   Talented people from Rural Areas would be provided opportunity to pursue their dreams. Such pool of talent could be utilised to promote research and Development in issues facing the country. Since they are people from grassroots from different parts of India, they have exposure to the real problem faced by the underdeveloped regions of country. There is huge opportunity to utilise their capability to solve the Developmental Challenge.
  • Multi-Disciplinary aspect would ensure that people are able to choose courses as per their interest.
  • This could serve a laboratory to evolve skill-based framework for education which can be replicated across the higher education spectrum to capture the potentialities of ‘ Demographic Dividend’

Post Script : Initially I have sent the above mail on her personal Email Id where she replied that Ideas and Suggestions related to HRD Ministry be sent to hrdministry The same message was posted on twitter handle of Mrs Minister. Hopefully some of ideas (mine as well as others who took pain to write) would be taken into consideration to improve the status of education rather than just depending on Bureaucracy and her own assessment of sector. Let’s Wati & Watch for now! 


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