A vision for higher education

book with green board background

A few college professors in Goa look at the way forward for higher education in line with NEP 2020
It is said that ‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today’.
Indeed, education is fundamental for the progress of a nation. And thus, the public at large looks forward towards the visionary National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that is expected to transform India’s educational focal point from local presence to global leadership. The inherent strength of Indian education system can be witnessed with the world’s best talents in the form of Indian professionals as the CEOs of some of the biggest Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, Google, Mastercard and so on. But, is the current scenario on higher education strengthened quantitatively and qualitatively, and is it acquainted to meet the sustainable and global standards in terms of research and societal demands?

In terms of equity and inclusion, the socially and educationally disadvantaged groups (SEDGs) in the country are the ones that seriously lag behind on the human development indices especially when it comes to educational sector. As per All India Survey on Higher Education 2018-19 report, the Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) in higher education in India for SCs (Scheduled Castes) is 23 per cent and for STs (Scheduled Tribes) is 17.2 per cent as compared to the national GER of 26.3 per cent; the ratio of male is higher than female in almost every higher educational level, except MPhil, Postgraduate and Certificate course; there are 85,877 people with disability (PWD) students enrolled in higher education but ironically majority of the higher educational institutes are devoid of disabled friendly atmosphere. The groups that equally need attention are students affected by HIV/AIDS, transgender, migrant students belonging to low income strata and minorities.

Another aspect that is equally important is integration of vocational study at all levels of education that would be skill-based and that would align education with employability. This would address the concern as to curbing the dropout rate and poverty too.
Societal needs are directly proportional to the research demands. The two major research areas are social research and scientific research. Social research analysis the social behaviour of human beings. Thus a social scientist can influence the policy makers and their choices, organisational management, professional practices and other research programmes, thus aiding the overall betterment of the society.
Scientific research results in interaction between science and society that helps in flow of knowledge between communities. Of late, the health sector was facing a challenge of coming up with a vaccine for the coronavirus, or the usage of plasma has been extensive in air travel, switches, lasers and other applications. It can also be stated that societal development is based on equitable access of all users to the services and products of education and research systems.
As we move forward from today, society needs promotion of every kind of research at higher education level to reap maximum benefits. This lays focus on Pasteur’s quadrant that emphasises on use-inspired basic research to address practical questions prevailing in the society, and bring excellence that will culminate into new business and lead to its economic growth. Higher educational sector needs to be developed in terms of critical thinking and decision making to ensure healthy growth of society as a whole.

A well complacent higher education
appeals the following measures:
1) Mushrooming of private institutions along with the enhanced fee structure is an area of concern for which educational financial assistance through scholarships for SEDGs is mandatory and timely monitoring of their outputs is must.
2) Engage professional, academic and career counselling for students belonging to SEDGs.
3) Set good infrastructural facilities in institutions especially with regard to IT and research labs, libraries and disabled-friendly buildings.
4) Better pedagogy with a digital atmosphere and demanding andragogy at all levels of study.
5) Imparting education in Indian languages and bilingually in the benefit of minorities, migrant and low-income group students.
6) Faculty and students at the institutional level need to be sensitised to support gender equality and to construct a violence and discrimination-free educational atmosphere.
7) Encouragement of public private partnerships to create an interface between universities, institutions, industries and research laboratories for a bright career for students.

(Compiled by assistant professor at G R Kare College of Law, Margao, Rozena Correia; assistant professor at Department of Konkani, Goa University, Sanika Gaonkar; assistant professor at Department of Zoology, Goa University, Shanti N Dessai; assistant professor at V M Salgaocar College of Law, Miramar, Shruti Kamat Dalal; assistant professor at Department of Zoology, P E S’s R S N College of Arts and Science Farmagudi Ponda, Socorrinha D’Costa.)