Higher Education Scenario

Higher Education Scenario in the North East India

Northeastern states of India have marked weak economic growth because of unavailability of standard education, which are at par with global standards. However, in the recent times, the area has witnessed establishment of some quality educational institutes to improve the educational standards. Read on to explore more about the educational scenario in North East India!

India is now on the verge of being named among the fastest growing economies on a global scale. However, our country is still troubled with many paradoxes, where on the one hand, India is looking forward to leverage its huge demographic potential by imparting education to more than 130 million people. This category includes individuals who fall in the age group of 17-23 years and are equipped with the skill sets that are in accordance with the demands for a modern knowledge based economy. On the other hand, there is a need to revolutionize the higher education system, which has lost its relevance and connection with the highly advanced and technologically sound world.

Unfortunately, our education system is not well equipped to support the ambitious targets of increased enrollment. There lies a big loophole in the educational infrastructure, which has created severe quality issues in the job market, and impairs us to offer universal access to education and training programs. The situation demands solution for such issues and the need of hour is to come up with sustainable solutions by the government. India is currently riding the wave of success and the government needs to ensure that no region is left behind from this inclusive growth.

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Persisting problems

The northeastern states are facing such acute problems of underdeveloped economy and are still untouched with the growth that other Indian states have showcased. Northeast presents some unique challenges in the field of education and the conventional market-based solutions may not be effective enough to solve such issues. The leading market failures have been lack of educational facilities, weak infrastructure and accessibility, unemployment, poverty, less economic growth, and law and order issues.

Annually, thousands of students migrate from the homes to other states of India in search to achieve standard higher education (HE). The trend, however, suggests that the existing colleges have failed to fulfill the need for education in accordance with the current education model. According to the census of 2004-2005, there are more than 320 degree colleges in Assam, and just three colleges in Sikkim. The number of colleges in other states varies, which suggests that there has been uneven development of education in the region. This situation also suggests that both public and private educational institutions have a great scope for expansion. Seeing the brain drain from the seven sister states, the academic agencies can aspire to spread higher education in the Northeast.

The approach

It is important to understand that the Northeastern states need to promote higher education more and the reasons for this, are:

Strategic location of the North Eastern Region (NER): The NER has the capabilities to play an important role in the Indian economy owing to its geographical location, and cultural resemblance to other South Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Nepal, and others.

Demand for higher education in the area: Since the northeastern states are lagging far behind the national average of 8% general enrollment ratio in HE, there is need to motivate the youngsters to pursue higher education and change the face of the region’s economy.

Changing trends in higher education: The educational scenario in other states of India has witnessed a lot of change and has replaced the colonial style of education. Similarly, to create a knowledgeable society, the residents of the NER need to have access to information and knowledge, and for that, higher education can work as the connecting link.

Recent developments

However, of late, several central institutions have made fruitful efforts to improve the educational standards, particularly in the field of higher education in NER. IGNOU is among the pioneers to accentuate the higher education in the area. Educational Development of North East Region Unit (EDNERU) has also contributed a lot in revolutionizing the educational needs of the population by brining in custom-made courses at degree, diploma, graduate, postgraduate and doctoral levels.

The main aim is to cater to the demands of the youth with a focused approach. IGNOU courses have been increasingly popular among the youngsters because of the availability of Online Distance Learning (ODL) courses they offer. Seeing the poor connectivity of the regions, particularly the remote locations, ODL has been quite successful and promising as these courses offer a wider reach above the conventional classroom.

Some of the local universities like Assam University, Guwahati University, Dibrugarh University and others have introduced various vocational courses to increase employability. Apart from the vocational and distance courses, there are candidates who have access to higher education, such as MBA from Assam University or Guwahati University, or B.Tech from Assam University. Some other universities are also trying hard to meet the demands for vocational training. Technical and management courses are getting popular among the youngsters. The establishment of a central university, North-Eastern Hill University at Shillong, a National Institute of Technology (NIT) at Silchar, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Guwahati and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Shillong, has been the step ahead in improving the educational standards of the region.