Ritu Grover, Founder and CEO, TGF Lifestyle Service

Coming from a family of Army background, Grover finished her schooling from Army Public School before graduating from Delhi University and a course in Interior architecture from Delhi.  In 1996, Grover started her dream of pioneering the concept of concierge services in India. Believing in her vision and a very fresh idea of Concierge services for the Indian market, Grover in 1988 opened her company, which is now the largest and well-known brand in the facility management Industry, TGH Lifestyle Services Pvt. Ltd.  She has bagged many awards as an entrepreneur, Appreciation award by CNBC and AMEX in 2009, Valued Partner Award by Wipro in 2008 and 2009.

As monotonous as it sounds, we’ll start off with some statistics. Youth in India constitutes one-fifth (19.1%) of India’s total population. This means 19.1% of Indians are between the age 15-24. Moreover, India is expected to have a 34.33% share of youth in the total population by 2020.

This should put one fact into perspective – the foremost sector that shoulders the biggest responsibility of shaping the future of our nation is the education sector. It’s not unknown to us that India, though renowned since ancient times for institutions like Nalanda, is presently facing multiple challenges in education.

Starting from the grassroot level, students in elementary classes are taught how to rote-learn, how to mug up what’s in the textbook and vomit it out while giving the exam. Having spent considerable time understanding the education scenario in various other countries, one can say that the level and method of education and teaching is evolving continuously abroad. At home, however, we are still stuck with the same bookish material our parents learnt.

Presently, education standards of higher education are not on par with the international community in most of the universities of India. There is hardly any practical teaching taking place. This is also a reason why many students prefer going abroad for higher education.

Speaking of practical training, there is an increasing gap between education and employability. Many of the industrial persons complained about the quality of students coming from colleges. Mostly, students are lacking in job skills. This can only happen when internships are encouraged in universities here. Sadly, we see several colleges having way too many festivals and events to actually take care of this issue. Internships not only help increase their chances of employability, they also help the student realise if he/she is actually interested in the subject or not.

As per recent studies, around 50% of college faculty in our country is working based on contract. In the long term, teaching with contract faculty has serious implications on quality and research.

Another issue that we hear a lot about when the admission season is going on is the ‘quota problem.’ In a country like ours, a large number of medical students have to go abroad to study to countries like Philippines or Malaysia that offer cheaper medical education because they couldn’t get into AIIMS or any other government college, and a private college is too expensive. If we count the number of seats available for the general category, there are hardly any, and the example was only for medicine alone. Now consider thousands of other professional courses with limited seats.

At this point, it is essential to discuss the admission procedure for several universities. Most reputed universities including central ones do not have exhaustive admission procedures – “you want to study Journalism? Got 97% in your board exams being a science student? Doesn’t matter! Welcome to our university!”

How does the university know whether the student has the aptitude for the subject he/she wants to study for the foreseeable future? What happened to aptitude tests and interviews? How can one board exam decide the future of a child and the country? This is where the major problem lies – at the grassroot.

Let us draw a simple comparison between universities like Harvard and Oxford and say, for instance, Delhi University. It’s easy to spot the difference. Maintaining quality in the education sector largely depends on the skill set of the student. If the child does have the aptitude for a subject but is pushed into it, it impacts the future of our nation slowly but surely. And sadly, thousands of kids are forced to take up streams they have no interest or aptitude in because of parental or peer pressure.

Having said that, we need to find a solution. With our PMs vision to make India a superpower, this issue needs to be resolved considering we’re growing exponentially as a nation and our youth is our number one resource.

Way Forward

Efforts should be made to help students decide which career is best suited for them, and this means doing more than just psychological analysis tests in schools. It means actually giving them practical exposure. We need to create an enabling environment for research, more stress should be given on practical training and internships, effort should be made to monitor the fee structure of private colleges and increase the seats in government colleges. Only then, will we truly be able to become a superpower holistically.

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