Challenges Ahead in Higher Education

Keeping in view the challenges that are to be faced in the 21st century the issues have been listed below:

The context in which we shall be placed in 21st century is something newly emerging which is global in nature and pertains to socio-economic and political order. Under such situation probably the education system has to reidentify its roles. The expectations that are made on the education is something much more than what the education system assumed and implemented in the present century.

The young and the energetic minds are today hoping to catch with the world rather than catching with our own country. The capacity to meet the challenge will depend upon the best that we produce and the speed with which respond to these changes. No doubt it is both an opportunity as well as a challenge.

This would mean two things: First, the best are looking for something beyond the country and second obviously it would mean the rest are to be prepared for catering to the country's needs which would mean building our colleges in addition to universities, IITs and IIMs.Prioritization of needs and attending to fulfill these needs should be the major focus for preparing the youth for 21st century.

The challenge is something unique to this country in the sense that what a small group of population has been able to reap the development of the 20th century achievements has not even reached the majority of the population. But at the developments of 21st century has already entered into the needs sector of that small group of population which has reaped the benefits.

In the existing system of higher education, on the quantitative side though the number is quite satisfying in reality, we have not been able to cater to more than 6 percent of the age group population of 17-23 years. The scenario in general is such that we have those who those who do not have the information, those who do not get the information. Much worst is that there is a great gap between these two groups. Those who do not get the information not even know how to get the information and to the extreme is that those who do not have the information are not even aware of that they do not have the information. The major challenge of 21st century would be to ensure that the information is made available and to reach all those who need to have the information. Technology advancement, proper networking can make this possible.

The public sector is slowly and slowly going down and the private sector is already taking over and increasing in number. But the private sector is essentially concentrating on the areas where it has business value with a profit motive. The other areas are getting neglected. The country's challenge would be to identify and ensure development of those areas as well that are of significance to national development.

On the one hand we have the quality education institutions which are on par with the quality education institutions which are on par with the developed countries and on the other we have the institutions that are no where nearer to this. In between we have large number of institutions. Filling this gap and building these institutions with a minimum standard at least to ensure that the quality expectations are met to by these institutions.

The under employment and unemployables produced by the education institutions are enough symptoms and the cause is well known. Its time that the courses, its content, its delivery, the examination pattern, the system of granting degree and diploma needs review. In other words, the disease having identified be treated properly.

The very objectives of higher education needs relook. The earlier objective of developing critical and analytical minds and total personality development serves the limited view. It is time that the higher education should also contribute for making a good living in addition to the others. The re-definition of objectives and plan to achieve these objectives are essential.

Irrespective of the fact that the system has been expanded from formal to non-formal, distance, open learning and the like, it has not been able to reach the mass. The population growth is posing another challenge to the education sector. The liberal arts education in its regular B.A., B.Sc class has neither been successful in preparing an individual for a career nor to attend to the liberal education. The products after completion are neither fit for a specific job nor trained for an enterprise. Vocationalization and re-structuring of curriculum be the priority agenda.

The more and more number of colleges getting affiliated to the universities but the universities have been able to attend only to the examination need of these colleges (that too not on time). The outcome has been that the university that was suppose to ensure quality and standards of these institutions has totally neglected the college and the system is suffering on the quality front. The university administration is not able to look beyond its own campus. For all decision making purposes the power remains with the university but the actual implementing, autonomy and accountability are major challenges for education system.