Bangalore: The number of students enrolling for higher education in India has shot up noticeably. The gross enrolment ratio (GER) for higher education has shot up from 12.4 to 20.2 says a recent survey done by the HRD ministry, reports TOI.
Sibal said "The results of the survey are tentative and not firm, but if validated, they are very encouraging. The ratio for developed countries is in the region of 35-40. The survey results show that we are getting there. If they hold, we can expect the ratio to go up to 30-35 by 2029," as reported by TOI.
GER is an assessment of the percentage of the relevant age group that is enrolled. The minister said that the difference in the GER is frequently the difference between developed and developing countries. He added that "The gross turnover of ideas, generated by the university system, is the real wealth of nations - often more valuable than GDP."
He said higher enrolment in universities is throwing up its own set of challenges. He further added that "This large influx into higher education (beyond 10+2 level) would possibly require 800 more universities and 50,000 more colleges. How can the physical infrastructure be built so quickly? Yet there can't be any delay. Even a year's delay means the child is older by a year." The number of kids competing for university education will touch 400 million, the size of the population of USA by 2030, he said.
He said "We have come up with a five-point action plan based on the advantages of new technology. You will hear much more about this in the coming days," reported TOI.
He said that the measures seek to harness the internet and cloud-computing with low cost devices like tablets, including Akash, the Rs 1,500 tablet adopted by HRD ministry for free distribution (with 50 percent of the cost being borne by the education institution and the other 50 percent by the Centre), and mobile phones.
Sibal said that 2.5 lakh villages would be connected by fibre optics to build a powerful information highway. He said "The last-mile connectivity would be wireless-accessed by tablets and mobile phones. Not just courses, video uploads can create virtual workshops and labs as well as self-assessment procedures," as reported by TOI.
The five changes coming are- Low-cost devices such as tablets and mobile phones that would play vital role in education in absence of physical infrastructure. Secondly, proliferation of cloud-computing will serve 4 regions which, in turn, will serve various colleges. Open education resources are to be expanded by providing course content through IT highway, where communications network will be built. Hundreds of courses will be sent out online and it will be made possible for students to create own combination - e.g., mathematics and music. Lastly, communications infrastructure will help create virtual world for students to work with machines on the net or carry out lab experiments.