That post-independence India’s education system is becoming messier and worse instead of simpler and better, is a routine lament of EducationWorld. Patchwork legislation rushed through a dysfunctional Parliament and raucous state legislative assemblies routinely adjourned without discussion and debate, excessive regulation by government ministries and supervisory boards such as UGC and AICTE which tend to equate institutional autonomy with exploitation, and business-illiterate centre-left academics wedded to obsolete command-and-control nostrums, are factors that have combined to plunge Indian education at all levels — primary, secondary and tertiary — into a deep abyss of mediocrity from which escape has become very difficult.
However it’s also true that at all levels of the country’s dumbed-down education system, there are a few and far between islands of modest excellence. Some of the country’s private boarding and international schools which have escaped the heavy hand of government, are among the best worldwide, even though they are out of the reach of the great majority of the population. Nevertheless, they are good examples for aspirational school promoters, principals and managers to learn from.
Even in higher education, there are globally competitive, private professional and multi-disciplinary colleges and universities which can serve as role models.
That’s why for over a decade, we have been commissioning annual surveys to rate and rank education institutions at all levels — pre-primary, primary-secondary, and tertiary — to inform the public about their best features and overall standing inter se. Although there’s widespread scepticism about the value and purpose of surveys measuring and assessing the relative merits of education institutions, I believe they serve several useful purposes.
For one, they inform and enable parents to identify and shortlist the most suitable education institutions for their children. Secondly, they instil the spirit of healthy competition, desire for improvement and striving for excellence within institutions of learning. Moreover, a very important outcome of EducationWorld’s annual preschools (January), schools (September) and higher education (May) rankings is that they provide us occasions to celebrate the achievements, improvement and diligence of hitherto unsung and taken-for-granted education institutions and their leaders. It’s pertinent to bear in mind that until this publication was launched 19 years ago, there was very little information and knowledge about India’s education institutions and people within them who have to work in often hostile environments to deliver high-quality education to India’s neglected but high-potential children and youth.
Against this backdrop, we present our EducationWorld India Higher Education Rankings 2018-19. They are very revealing. Certainly, after co-authoring this issue’s mega cover story with our managing editor, Summiya Yasmeen, I’ve learned a lot.