New Delhi: As the government focuses on more private participation in higher education, the quality remains a major area of concern, HRD Minister Arjun Singh said today.
Speaking at the inaugural function of the Sub-Regional conference of South, South-West and Central Asia on Higher Education, he said the private sector has increased dramatically in the field of education in the last few decades in most of the countries.
“The maintenance of the overall standards and quality of private higher education remains a major concern to be addressed by most of us in the region,” he said.
The countries need to address the issues like fee structure and the inclusion of the poor in the realm of education in a “regime of market oriented competition”, Singh said.
He sought cooperation from the states in increasing the spending on education. The general thumb rule is that a country should spend at least about 6% of its GDP on education.
“I am painfully conscious of the fact that for most of our countries of the region, including India, this target has been eluding us,” he said.
Singh, however, said the allocation in higher education has increased by five times in the 11th Plan than the allocations made in the 10th Plan.
”With the cooperation from our states governments, we are likely to also come close to the target of spending about six per cent of our GDP by the end of 11th Plan,“ he said at the conference being attended by representatives from 14 countries.
He said globalisation of higher education has created new challenges with respect to quality and mutual recognition of degrees.
“I am sure that Unesco can and will play a vital role in this sphere. We all who are participating in this conference can also make a beginning in the areas of mutual interest like recognition of qualification and sharing of information about accreditation of educational institutions,” he said.
The challenges can be addressed to a large extent by regional collaborations, he said.
“The countries of our region have been very strong in local knowledge since time immemorial and we must ensure that globalisation does not challenge our respect for diversity and pluralism,” he said.
Minister of State for HRD D Purandeswari said higher education should be made equitable.