Graduation Rates and India's Growing Population

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India’s Burgeoning College Graduation Rate and Its Implications

In 2020, it is predicted that India will overtake the U.S. in the number of college graduates, second only to China. At this quickening pace, India’s young, newly educated labor force could indeed level the global playing field very quickly. Beyond the numbers, the quantity of graduates may not translate to the quality of education received. India is well-suited to continue to offer much in the way of technological and professional business positions for many domestic and western firms but it may not be able to compete unless the quality of its post-secondary education addresses gaps in its infrastructure.

India’s Burgeoning College Graduation Rate and Its Implications Recently, in watching YouTube videos in class and discussing statistics in the context of Freidman’s ‘global flattening’ concept, I pondered further the implications of India’s explosion of college graduates. It was colloquially mentioned that India is graduating students from colleges and universities at a far greater pace than America; and admittedly, I’ve been quite intrigued by this feat and its implications. India’s education system is divided into different levels including pre-primary, primary elementary, secondary, undergraduate and postgraduate level. Cheney, Ruzzi, and Muralidharan (2005) explain that India employs a 10 + 2 + 3 format which is comprised of 10 years of primary and some secondary school, 2 years of higher secondary school and 3 years (if accepted) of post-secondary education at institutions ranging from universities, colleges and vocational schools. Control and funding for education takes place at the local, state and national level (“India 2009” 2009). Like many other nations, India has sought to improve education at all levels. Since gaining independence in 1947, India has launched a variety of reforms aimed at improving education overall and extending the ability to both boys and girls to actually receive a formal education. Masani (2008) found that its improved education system is considered to be a main contributing factor to India’s economic rise, particularly from the focus on technical and scientific fields at the post-secondary level. The country has made strides particularly in the last fifteen years in increasing the literacy rate by removing barriers to education for girls and re-focusing its attention to primary education. In 1991, literacy for all adults was at 48.2% whereas in 2006 it had climbed to 62.8%. Youth literacy rates have increased even further in that 81.1% of all youths age 15 to 24 were considered literate in 2006, in comparison to 1991 in which only 61.9% were deemed literate (UNESCO, 2011). However, the country continues to face tough challenges in that despite increased spending and more focused attention to improving education fundamentals, nearly a third of the population remains illiterate; only 15% of Indian students ever reach high school and only 7% graduate from college (Shrinivasan 2012). The actual quality of an Indian education is considered poor by western standards as 25% of the nation’s teaching positions remain unfilled, and nearly 60% of its college professors do not possess a master’s or a PhD degree (Newsweek, 2008). The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (2009), explains that as of 2009, there are approximately 17,373 post-secondary institutions ranging from colleges to universities to other specialized post-secondary institutions in India; although of that number, approximately 17,000 are colleges. According to World Bank (2013) in 2010, the populations of India and the United States were 1.22 billion and 309 million, respectively, translating to India having four times the population of the U.S. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2012) notes that India produced 14 million...
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