Education is often referred to as the most influential factor for a person’s future. Nine out of ten times an educated person always has a better chance to succeed and strive compared to an uneducated one.
In India, education is considered a necessity, and uneducated people are looked down upon. The Indian education system is considered to be one of the best in the world but the students believe otherwise.
According to a recent report from consulting firm Red Seer, the number of Indian students studying abroad is expected to reach 1.8 million by 2024, despite the Covid barrier. This has little to do with their responsibility towards their nation but everything to do with the nation’s responsibility towards them.
Why Isn't India a Student’s First Choice?
The most prominent factor that makes the students choose to study abroad is their ability to be easily replaced. Being the second highest populated country, in the running to be the first, it is not difficult to find people to do a job. So, it's fairly easy to replace somebody in India because there is no shortage of talent but there is a shortage of jobs. Only 3.75% of the total employed population is employed in the government sector. This results in students fighting for the few government jobs because those are the only “secure” jobs in India. The recruitment for such jobs is conducted through competitive exams based on the factual, theoretical, and practical knowledge of students.
Therefore, the second major factor contributing to students moving abroad is the education system. Students believe the education system to be unfair and textbook-based rather than fair and skill-based. We've all prepared for at least one competitive exam, for IIT, AIIMS, Civil Services, etc. The odds of an average student clearing such exams are slim to none. Approximate 15,00,000 sit for the IIT-JEE exam and only 10,000 of them get a seat in one of the prestigious IITs. Even for the ones that end up getting admissions, it is not certain that they will stay in India to practice what they've learned. This promotes mugging up books and not gaining practical knowledge. Due to the pressure, the majority of the students end up taking dummy schools to prepare for an exam that will decide their entire future and end up losing out on all the practical knowledge or overall development that the world/school has to offer. Many argue that a test cannot determine the ability of a student to pursue a certain subject.
However, the New Education Policy, 2020 promotes experiential learning and consistent revision which is a step forward from the exam-based assessments. It also allows the students to choose and combine the subjects of their choice for higher education which gives them the freedom to gain knowledge and feed their interests.
Extreme competitiveness leads to people using unfair means to get a seat in a college or university. This brings us to the problem of corruption in India. The government has offered schemes such as the "Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojna" that provide employment opportunities for students but these schemes are often not implemented efficiently because of corruption at various levels. This not only exists at the admissions level but also at the placements level. Apart from corruption, reservation also leads people to use unfair means to get ahead. A total of 59.5% of seats were reserved for several sections in the deemed NEET-UG exam 2021. Some people make fake caste certificates to get the benefits meant for less privileged students. This is neither fair to the students that work hard nor to the ones that could have worked harder if they had the same resources. This happens everywhere in the world.
It Has Become Easier to Explore Options
People established consulting agencies to help students move abroad by providing services such as counselling, application assistance, financial assistance, etc. Students as young as fifteen get enrolled with these agencies to help them prepare and build a strong profile to get admission into foreign universities and/or apply for scholarships. They also conduct conventions where representatives of several universities and colleges abroad come to pitch to students on why they should join them and also guide them about the process.
Why Do Students Choose to Settle Abroad?
Countries such as Canada, the UK, and the USA are the most popular destinations for students because of the unlimited career opportunities. Post-Brexit, the UK has become lenient in terms of immigration due to the increased demand for skilled labour and technical officials. It allows students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees to stay in the country for two years after the completion of their degrees, to practice their learnings. Several incentives provided by the Canadian government to its citizens, such as unemployment fund and old age pension become great fodder for students from India to settle there. In addition to these benefits, the fact that these are developed countries makes it a better deal.
As of 2019, there were over 219,000 Indian study permit holders in Canada, comprising 34% of Canada's foreign student population. According to The Times of India, 67,000 Indian students got approved to study in Canada in the first four months of 2020; it is 83% more than in all of 2020.
Apart from the big names, countries like Germany, Italy, and Denmark have also started to be habited by Indians. These countries provide free education and healthcare to their citizens which makes them desirable to live in. In addition to the quantitative figures and factors, the idea of moving to a new place and experiencing new things also plays a great role in tilting the students towards moving abroad.
Along with the exuberant benefits comes the ridiculously high fee for international students. For some courses, international students pay three or four times the amount that a resident student pays. The students face discrimination and they often have little to no relatives or people to depend on in a new country so it is highly challenging mentally. Employers also tend to take advantage of the students by paying them less than minimum wage simply because they know that they need it.
The Real Question
The real thing to see here is that despite the challenges and disadvantages, students prefer to move abroad. They prefer to do minimum wage jobs over staying cosy in their parents' house. This may be seen as running away from the problem or taking the easy way out i.e. the students choose to move to a developed country rather than staying in India and making it a better place for their future generations. But is it the fault of the students or the fault of the government for not providing a proper system where talented and skilled individuals can strive for success and excellence?
It may be argued that India does not have the resources to execute missions such as free education for everyone but those are merely excuses. India is known for producing intelligent prodigies and is home to excellent ideas but it has to find a way to keep them. To get results as good as that of a developed country, our government has to prioritize where it spends its money so that it can fulfil its responsibility towards the youth that constitutes more than 40% of the population of the country. If they uphold their end of the bargain, maybe the students will start staying and delivering here. After all, Rome was not built in a day.
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