How do you see the overall education scenario in Rural India?
In pre independence era, the education was provided by only public sector institutions and was accessible to a few privileged ones only. In 1947, the literacy level was hardly 12%. Now it has gone close to 75%. There were only 20 universities and 500 colleges in the country at that time whose number has now gone to over 690 and 35539 respectively. In late 1940s, the average number of primary schools was not even one per village. Post Independence, concerted efforts have been made by governments at Centre and States to improve the level of education in rural areas. There has been impressive growth in number of educational institutions particularly during last three decades. Now almost all villages are having at least one primary school. The number of secondary and higher secondary schools in villages has also gone up significantly. As a result, the Gross Enrolment Ratio is now close to 20%. It was just about 10% a decade ago. But the level of quality in education particularly in rural areas is very dismal.
How do you think, private institutions can help imparting education among rural students?
If we want to provide education to every child between 6-14 (Sarv Siksha Abhiyan) and wish to achieve 30% GER at higher education level, public sector educational institutions alone cannot do it. In most of the traditional universities/ government colleges class rooms are overcrowded and in number of cases cannot accommodate the number of enrolled students. Thus without participation of private sector, education to all is virtually impossible.
Today the education cost is skyrocketing, in that case how is it possible for students from lower strata to get educated?
The purchasing power of people in rural as well as in urban India has improved considerable. In addition institutional finances are available for needy students at reasonable interest rate. Governments also offer scholarships/ fellowships to the students of weaker sections. It is believed that if the government offers scholarship equivalent to full tuition fee to the children of weaker section irrespective of social and religious affiliation, the quality of education will improve. The fees at Supertech University will be affordable. We will provide 25% fee discount to the permanent residents of Uttarakhand.
Please share something about Supertech University?
We have set up Supertech University in a rural area. This is 9 km from Rudrapur, the nearest town and 45 km from Kashipur where Indian Institute of Management is located. The government has issued the LOI (letter of intent) and has given the permission to purchase land. The construction is on and the first batch will get admissions in July 2015. The USPs of the University are rich intellectual capital, innovative teaching – learning pedagogy, a wide array of courses, primacy of values over valuation, focus on skill development, state of art infrastructure, and international tie ups.
Have you planned any specialised programme for rural?
Yes, we will have educational and vocational courses focusing rural areas and rural populace. Rural oriented programmes include rural management, rural marketing, rural retailing, rural communication, besides skill development programmes targeting rural women, rural youth, and farmers. There are 400 plus industries in Udham Singh Nagar district, needing a large number of skilled manpower. The University will impart needed skill to the unemployed youth to make them employable in the industry of the area.