New Education Policies Needed To Combat Widespread Illiteracy

India needs to drastically change its education system to combat the illiteracy impacting its workforce, which now stands at a mind-boggling figure of 860 million. “Illiteracy is impacting the demand and supply of employable workforce in India,” Hari Bhartia, President, CII, told the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum in New Delhi on Tuesday.Bhartia said the primary education sector lacks soft skill capabilities and it has rarely reached the rural areas. Fundamentally, the private sector has delivered primary education in the urban areas. As a result, the quality of education imparted by the government schools has suffered sufficiently, especially in the rural areas

“Employability is a huge issue that needs immediate attention. The issue can be solved only if there is profit in such areas. There is a need to review policies and action need to be taken faster,” said Brij Kothari, Director, PlanetRead.

He found instant support from Harsh Manglik, Chairman and Geography MD, Accenture. “We should allow market driven approach in primary education that will lead to more efficiency and accountability.”

Education planners in India have routinely lamented the lack of government initiatives in the education sector that only encouraged low income parents to push their children out of schools. As a result, such drop out rates have been steadily increasing across the country.

Consider this. India, by 2022, will need around 500 million skilled employees but supplies are less. “Despite a strong grasp on theoretical material, there is a clear lack of soft skill knowledge. That is a big problem in the Indian job market,” said Lucy Neville-Rolfe, Executive Diector, Corporate and Lega Affairs, Tesco, adding: “E-learning can be a great help to solve the problem.”

There were others who felt lack of industry exposure was also impacting the sector. “The government should realise the talent distribution and then assign industries to impart education,” said Venkat Matoory, CEO, Junior Achievement of India. “With new higher education laws currently under the consideration of the Parliament to make accreditation mandatory, curb malpractices and fast track adjudication of disputes, there is much to reflect and analyse in the context of major institutional reforms that are underway,” he added.

The faster it happens, the better.


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