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India’s potential for development and revival for its economy is solely based upon the power of the youth. While it is clichéd to spout the statistics in terms of the population of the youth in India, it is imperative to note that 47% of Indians are under the age of 20. Why is this piece of information important? It is important because this simple double digit number gives us an idea of the magnanimous power the youth of India hold in their hands, and this figure can truly become an asset if quality education is imparted to these teeming numbers. While there are growing requirements for easy accessibility of education, there is only a limited amount of resources in the hands of the government that can be put to task.
Let us talk about Madangir (New Delhi). When a novel experiment conducted in Kalkaji (New Delhi) wherein small computer units (following the model of Minimally Invasive Education) were set up to see if otherwise illiterate children could operate them with least trouble, it was found that by making small changes in the hardware and software of the computer, these children could make full use of the computers without much hassle. Following this, the same experiment was conducted in Madangir, a slum area of Delhi, where six MIE stations were set up. The basic idea behind this experiment was to see the effectiveness of using IT in the education of children. These children were given access to basic literary modules prepared by Jamia Milia Islamia University, educational games, puzzles, CDs procured from National Institute of Open Schooling and Headstart Rajya Shiksha Mission. With minimum interference from any external sources, children were supposed to gain information and knowledge through the use of these computer units. Since this method of education is self directed and participatory, the results of the experiment vary. However this model of education is definitely effective and has yearned positive results.
There is no denying the fact that there has been significant mushrooming of private schools in both rural and urban areas. The families that cannot afford to send their child to a private school are left with very little choice in the question of quality education for their children. A PPP model that can be effectively put to use is the voucher system, wherein the government, instead of investing in infrastructure, invest in students. The idea is that each student can choose which school to go to, whether private or public, and the government will fund the child according to his/her choice. In this situation even the poorest of parents can send their child to the school of their choice. Here, the aim is to give every child the same set of choices regarding their education. Meritorious students are then rewarded. The student will be free to develop in the area of their choice (arts, sports, sciences) without any obstructions in funding and facilities.
Another method that can be used for quality education is following the Adopt – A – School Initiative that has worked well in Philippines and Pakistan. Here as the name suggests, a private organization would endeavor to improve government schools through increased involvement of parents and communities through extensive community mobilisation; regular school monitoring and feedback; training headteachers and teachers and increased co-curricular activities and improved school facilities. There can also be Government Purchase of Private School Facilities. Here the government ensures that students who are alienated from the system of education can be given educational facilities off or on campus of private schools for a certain time period. In crude terms, the government buys the services of the private school in order to educate the underprivileged groups of students.
There are many more PPP models adopted all over the world, and each model comes with its own set of gains and obstacles. However what is common to all these models is the requirement to be well executed and managed. Moreover what is commonly noted in these plans is that it represents a loss of control for educational authorities and as a result a loss of accountability to the public. PPPs also involve more complex arrangements that require detailed policy design, as well as financial and contract management capability. Poorly designed contracts, including weak or inappropriate incentives, may expose the government to significant financial and performance risks. The development of policy, as well as the formulation and specification of provider contracts, can be complex and time consuming – particularly for bureaucracies unfamiliar with an external, output-based contracting model.
There is a grave need to promote education in places that are still a far cry from the reach of public or private schools. The PPP models talked about over here are only a few of the many scores of alternatives available to the government. There truly needs an influx of indigenious and innovative ideas for the development of education that can use the resourses of the corporate world and the strength of the government. If a proper balance is struck between the two, wonders can be achiveved. There are many who lament about the increasing population of India, well, to them Isay, why not use this as a resource. The greatest of resources available to us is human resource, let us develop it!