The potential of a nation is strongly determined by its educational scenario in colleges and universities. A good, healthy and efficient learning environment in a classroom is mandatory for the betterment of education and the holistic improvement of students. And hence well-equipped classrooms, laboratories, and other equipment which facilitate qualitative learning are crucial elements of an educational environment, as they lead to improved student outcomes.
Education has been a matter of concern since Independence, and we have only gotten better. We have, as a nation, overcome many difficulties and tried to make the system better. But, we have a long way to go. Even in the contemporary scenario, we are lacking, not because of the lack of enthusiasm and passion for education, but because of the lack of means to give direction to that passion. The problems that confront education today are unequal access and the poor quality of infrastructure. The goals remain the same — “expansion with inclusion and ensuring quality and relevant education”.
According to a study, the “design of education infrastructure affects learning through three interrelated factors: naturalness (e.g. light, air quality), stimulation (e.g. complexity, colour), and individualization (e.g. flexibility of the learning space)”. Indian higher education system is the third largest in the world, next to the United States and China.
The estimated population of young people in India aged 18 to 23 years is around 150 million. The sheer size of the market offers huge opportunities for development of the higher education sector in India. Unfortunately, the educational infrastructure of India is inadequate to handle such huge volumes.
Education has always been a perfect blend of theory and practical subject matter. And, as a nation, we have realised how the bridge between theory and practice, if not burnt, will defeat the essence of education. The correct way to impart knowledge is by “learning by doing”. What enables the learning is infrastructural support, i.e. the likes of equipped laboratories, playgrounds and other such facilitators. But, these are all limited to paper, most of the times. And, in instances when they have taken real shape, either they are in a dilapidated, or they simply do not meet the requirements, rendering them unfit for optimum use. Students struggle to have access to basic amenities like clean toilets, drinking water to the presence of laboratories and moot courts which are pre-requisites for their courses.
We have prestigious colleges with high merit requirements and students dying to get a seat in the best of colleges, but even the most prestigious colleges are grappling with systemic issues. The bigger picture that most of the universities fail to notice is that, no matter the amount of education they offer, if the environment includes dripping walls, and dysfunctional laboratories, it’s as good as the absence of it all. Various governments changed during these six decades, each coming up with new or refined policies, but failing at bettering the situation. And, the colleges and schools that do fulfil the infrastructural criterion, are too pricey, and, hence, inaccessible to the general students.
What goes unnoticed is that the presence of basic infrastructural facilities is mandatory even to get affiliations. But, that part is, more often than not, done away with either by way of corruption or patronage. Education is an important issue enough to not let these hollow temptations of corruption or lack of vision hinder the entire environment for development and betterment of the nation.
While, allocation of more financial resources towards uprooting this infrastructural stagnancy could be a solution, a higher level of transparency and accountability, could be the solution for cases where those funds are being misinterpreted and misused. It’s not acceptable for the higher authorities to ignore these issues as glitches because these little glitches might be the real reason why our country is still stuck on the ‘developing’ signal.
We need our education to be relevant, and infrastructural stability would go a long way in making it so.