India will take 126 years to catch up to the West in education – study

educationIndia does have ambitions to reach the level of developed nations in education, but it will take at least six generations or 126 years to scale up to the top standard, if the country continues at its present pace in one of the most vital sectors, an ASSOCHAM Paper has said.

“Though India has made rapid strides, the yawning gap between the standards of education does not seem to bridge soon as the developed world has not slowed down spending on education”, the paper noted.

It said with India spending mere 3.83 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education, it is not sufficient to catch up. “It will take six generations or 126 years to catch up with developed countries if we do not change our education system dramatically”.

The US spends 5.22 per cent of its GDP on education, whereas for Germany it is 4.95 per cent and UK 5.72 per cent.

“With the GDP base of these developed counties so high, the absolute money earmarked for education is huge. For instance the size of the US GDP would be something like seven times the size of the Indian GDP and then on top of it, its ratio on education on a higher base would be very significant”, said ASSOCHAM Secretary General Mr D S Rawat said.

The ASSOCHAM Paper also noted, however, that India has a resource constraint, but then, the country must catch up to reach the levels of spending as recommended by the United Nations, which wants countries to spend at least six per cent of their GDP on education.

If India steps up its resource commitment to education, it can really become a major source of talent to the rest of the world, given the demographic advantage it has. With 315 million students, it has the largest pupil population in the world, besides being the youngest country.

Shortages of quality teachers are among the major challenges for the education sector, the paper said. At present, the shortage of teachers has been measured at 1.4 million. Besides 20 per cent of the teachers do not measure up to the standards of the National Council for Teachers’ Education (NCTE).

Also, due to absence of focus on effective skill development, India is one of the least skilled countries. “Majority of the college graduates and post graduates have employability challenges”. This is ironical because India has a surplus work force but it is not skilled enough.

“In our country only 4.7 per cent of the work force has any formal training, whereas this figure is 80 per cent for Japan, 95 per cent for South Korea, 75 per cent for Germany, 68 per cent for UK and 52 per cent for the US”.