Can we sustain?

We talk of improving the access for primary education, but do we have adequate facilities and infrastructure to support the same students for higher education?

Can we sustain?

While the authorities struggle to pass bills and formulate legislations to put in efforts to achieve the correct education standards for schools, and primary education, the field of higher education has a different story to tell. While we work on improving the overall enrollment ratio in the country, the problem is that a lot of the enrollment is lopsided, especially in the urban areas. This creates a sort of imbalance, since thousands of application forms are received for a few hundred seats in the most well known colleges of the cities. Is it that the student who missed out on the merit list by one mark is not intelligent enough? Certainly not. It’s just that there is enough infrastructure to sustain so many students.

Most educationists believe that there are many steps taken to improve the situation of education in India, especially when facilities are set up for creating opportunities in primary education. The problem is, these facilities are not extended to higher education, and this, these students are lost at a very crucial age – during their teens. How do we support the students who pass from these schools, and want to go to college? In the cities, especially, the college admissions seem to be a battle of numbers. Each year they want to increase the intake of students, so much so, that every degree college affiliated to Mumbai University admits over 120 students to each division for every year – first year, second year and third year – be it BCom, BA or BSc.

“Admissions have become more difficult in the popular streams, since they provide a professional education at the undergraduate level,” says a city college principal. Even with most colleges offering specialised courses like Bachelor’s in Mass Media (BMM), Bachelor’s in Management Studies (BMS), it is not enough. The principal feels that if more such professional courses are created and seats are allotted, seats in the regular graduation streams like arts, science and commerce will be freed up. Even then, he feels, that will solve the problem only for a few hundreds, much lesser that what is needed for out burgeoning population.

According to those who study these fields, the patterns of education in India have been varied. “Right now, research reveals that too many students from small towns and villages are opting for higher education opportunities outside of their hometowns, even outside of their state, sometimes. These opportunities need to be evenly distributed,” says sociology student Amisha Desai. She adds that many students want to clear a basic HSC pass certificate to apply for basic jobs, and hopes that the new national vocational education scheme comes into place soon, so that it can help alleviate some of the problem.

Amidst all the research and schemes, there are students like Saroj Panchal, who just want their voices to be heard. Saroj missed out on college education since with her modest score, she failed to secure admission to a college. She is now pursuing BCom via distance education. “The administrative authorities need to have some foresight. There will be students like me who get a low score for several reasons, but they cannot be denied an education, or be told to uproot themselves to go to college. They need to think of this before hand, not when the problem has reached to such massive proportions,” she concludes.

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