Every time I get into a conversation with some body. We always end up talking about the economy. The question on everybody’s mind is which industry in India is going to see the next big boom.
The answer to me is quite simple – Education! Why? Just look at the numbers, more than 125,000 students studied abroad in 2006 with about 39,000 visas issued to Indian students going to Australia in 2007 and about 76,000 visas issued to Indian students going to the United States in 2006.
With better job prospects in India and with the government on an action plan to open up the education sector for FDI. Private universities around the world are going to be queuing up to cater to Indian students in India. The majority of Indian students going abroad can get the same top quality education in India for a fraction of the cost. Imagine getting a Harvard or an Oxford degree right here in India!
With the growth of the outsourcing industry and with globalization, almost every top company is right here in India – the Intels, the Microsofts, the big accounting firms, not to forget our own Tatas and the Reliances. We are not just looking at these institutions serving Indian students, we could attract a huge number of international students who may choose India to the US, UK or Australia due to our lower costs.
There are obstacles to privatization in the education sector though. Not everybody is convinced that privatization is the way to go. Some political parties have always said “education should not be privatized because privatization is going to bring up costs and many poor students are not going to be able to afford it.”
I believe the opposite is true. With privatization, the salaries of teachers is going to go up, there are going to be more job opportunities in these private institutions. More people are going to consider education as a lucrative career. The government can tax these private institutions and use these funds to provide scholarships to poor students and develop the IIMs, IITs and other public institutions including the primary and secondary education system.
The government education system can co-exist with the private education system. This will ensure competition in the education system. And, if the education system has to grow, we don’t have a choice but to privatise.
So, it’s time we opened our minds to a new way of thinking.