Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The necessity for public structures of education and the simultaneous regulation of the educational sector

I was reading today a facebook post from a friend about how there are several engineering, medical, and management institutes that are mushrooming all around India that charge exorbitant sums of money to afford admissions to large numbers of prospective candidates who are willing to pay the money for an engineering, medicine, or MBA degree.

The large scale and fast-paced growth of educational outfits all over the country is accompanied by the weak regulations of the education market, marked by rampant corruption and a climate of false advertisements. 100 percent placements, foreign collaborations, teachers from abroad- these have all become markers of educational outfits across India that promise the allure of success to anyone that enters through the door. Children, and more importantly, their parents are willing to shell out the money, sometimes going in debt, at other times even selling their valuable little savings in order to secure a bright future for their child.

What is however cause for alarm is the extent to which the slogans, advertisements, and marketing campaigns of the educational outfits are built on lies. Such forms of lying as integral components of the marketing logic have become fairly standard in the commodification of education. Loopholes are figured out so that institutions can claim that they offer internships abroad. Placement data are made up so that institutions can show 100% placement. Clearly, strong regulations, monitoring of curricula, and more importantly, monitoring of advertising/marketing campaigns are much needed. However, given the corrupt influences of money on Indian politics and vice versa, it is difficult to envision an overhauling of the educational system with strict parameters and processes of accountability.

Most importantly, in ensuring the accessibility of the poorer sectors of India (which is the majority of the country) to quality education, it is vital to foster public structures of education that create creative opportunities for students to participate productively in co-creating alternative rationalities.

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