These are some of the most popular slogans that are used by politicians when they seek votes of masses in parliamentary democratic countries like India, USA, and UK. Ironically, citizens of all such countries with public education systems are facing high unemployment rate, poverty and other economical problems.
Politicians often use education as a tool for gaining votes and to grab power of dominion over the country and countrymen so that they can maintain their rule and hence they socialize it and name it public education.
While every politician claims that they will make policies to provide better education system, better institutes, schools, and colleges, there hardly is a politician or administrator who actually know the real purpose of college. As a result, our higher education system is no less than a voluntary imprisonment for the students who submit themselves under the rules of bureaucrats who have been assigned the job to arbitrarily decide what is good for the student.
The confusion about educational system stems from the economical concept of human resource which states that the productivity of individual at a work place increases with increasing skills. Thus, acquiring productive skills will increase the human resource as it will increase productivity.
As for example, a person looking for a job at barbershop will need to learn the skills which will make him an expert barber, similarly, the barber shop will increase its human resource by appointing a skilled barber rather than by appointing someone who doesn’t know how to pick a scissor.
A student joins a college for a purpose to acquire intellectual skills and relevant information so that he may attain an otherwise unattainable job in a particular field. By gaining those skills, he increases his chances to get a job in the relevant sector.
The politicians say that more educated population is a more productive population and hence they have taken tyrannical control over education sector. Their idea is to educate everyone because if everyone will be educated, everyone will produce more. Universities and colleges are taxpayer-subsidized governmental efforts to increase human resource.
However, government still cannot force a student to take admission in Universities and colleges and hence, to lure students, it heavily subsidizes these institutions and students by announcing programs like ‘Free-Education.’ Government has monopolized education sector and have lowered the price of educational services artificially by subsidizing colleges and universities.
This monopoly has led an extreme oversupply of individuals with degrees. Furthermore, the quality of education has downgraded to dangerous levels. While education is still considered as a public service offered by government, but it is a myth because the student now has little or no choice in deciding what education he should attain and what skills he should acquire. The services of education he receives are not dependent on his choices and valuations, but the bureaucrats decide what he should study. Curricula are decided by educational boards and administrative groups who have the power to dictate what students must learn. These administrators, the IAS officers often believe that they have all the intelligence to decide what sort of education will increase the human resource of India. Hence, the skills that can be acquired at a University or college student are not decided by the student himself but by those administrators, board members and politicians who have no idea about the objectives and aims of that particular student.
Amir Khan produced a marvelous movie Tare Zameen Par to express an idea that the student should be let free to decide what skills to learn and he should not be forced by his parents. But in reality, parents have no power to force their children to study in any particular way, just like the students, even the parents are dependent on those boards, education ministers and bureaucrats who decide what students must learn.
However, central planning of education curricula is not the only problem. Public education system is a monopoly of government and hence it is beyond the market competition. As a result, university administrators, professors, lecturers, staff often remain detached from their supposed job. There are many government schools and colleges where teachers often fail to take classes. Even in private institutes, lecturers are not close enough to students to actually help them in learning skills because the curricula is not in their hands and most of them know that the dictated curricula is of no use.
Politicians and administrators are completely detached from reality that the colleges and universities are no longer increasing human resource. Most of the politicians and IAS officers don’t even know the meaning of human resource. Since there is no competition, government cannot even learn to improve.
As a result, the quality of education has suffered. The only aim of politicians and IAS officer is to create as much degree holders as they can. The paper degree confirms that its holder possesses certain skills and knowledge that were actually never taught. Even after attaining degree, it is difficult to get job without proper working experience and well, there are not much jobs. There are many graduates who opt for technical skills from some secondary school or diploma college and aspire for technical jobs which have no connection with their original field of education. What more can they do after graduating in literature or political science or journalism?
This problem of higher education is because of the wrong interpretation of human resource by politicians and IAS officers. They realized that by increasing human resource, they can increase productivity. Yet, they failed to realize that increased human resource will not increase productive jobs. Government produces thousands of engineers each year, however; if government produces 1000 engineers, there are only 500 jobs. The remaining 500 engineers are surplus who are forced to do something else for a living of which they have attained no skills. So basically, these surplus engineers are highly educated, but they are unskilled in their respective jobs.
Obviously, after graduating, most students find out that their education is useless and they wasted their precious five or six years in actually doing nothing but wasting their time and money. In those five-six years, they might have learned many skills which were more pertinent to them.
By socializing and monopolizing education sector, government has killed its service potential because government is not meant to provide services, it is meant to dictate, coerce, rule and govern people1 while exploiting them and that is why Universities and colleges are no more than imprisons where students waste their precious time of five or six years.