The issue of Gross enrollment ratio in Indian education system



  • GS Mains Paper-2,Governance
  • Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources
  • Radhakrishnan Commission Report/Status of humanities education in India and need of its integration with STEM courses

Why in news?

  • A survey by the All India Survey on Higher Education published in July this year shows that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) was 25.8% in 2017-18, up from 10% in 2004-05.

What is GER?

  • Gross Enrolment Ratio is the ratio (expressed as a percentage), of the total enrolment within a country in a specific level of education, regardless of age, to the population in the official age group corresponding to this level of education.

GER in higher education:-

  • For higher education, the survey calculates the ratio for the age group 18 to 23 years.
  • For India, the Survey gives the corresponding figure as 30%.
  • Though the GER for higher education in India is still less than what it is in developed countries, the growth rate is still quite impressive.

What is Radhakrishnan Commission Report about?

  • Just after Independence, a commission comprising educationists from India, the U.K. and the U.S., and chaired by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, was formed.
  • It had to report on Indian University Education and suggest improvements and extensions that may be desirable to suit present and future requirements of the country.
  • Its report filed after its deliberations came to be known as the Radhakrishnan Commission Report (RCR).
  • Philosophical deliberations in the report that are related to the content of higher education are still relevant today.

What are the recommendations of RCR?

  • The RCR recommended a well-balanced education with ‘general’, ‘liberal’ and ‘occupational’ components.
  • Without all-round general (including liberal) education, one could not be expected to play roles expected of a citizen outside one’s immediate professional sphere.
  • The report advocated that general education and specialised/professional education should proceed together.
  • The study of languages should be given equal importance as one communicated to the outside world only through the medium of language.

What is NAP and what does the NAP report state?

  • NAP is National Academies Press.
  • The National Academies Press (NAP) of the U.S. which represents the national academies of sciences, engineering and medicine published a report this year called, “The Integration of the Humanities and Arts with Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Higher Education: Branches from the Same Tree”.
  • The report advocates integrating the teaching of humanities in STEM.
  • The NAP’s report states that the purpose of higher education is to prepare graduates for work and life, as well as active and engaged citizenship.
  • This can be achieved only through the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies related to the profession they chose to specialise in and also written and oral communication skills, ability to work as a team, ethical decision making, critical thinking, and ability to apply knowledge in real world settings.

What is the need for diversity in education?

  • Problems in a real-life setting are interdisciplinary and require an appreciation of related fields.
  • There are technical advances every day, influencing everyday life in diverse ways.
  • This is also leading to concerns about privacy, technology-driven social and workforce changes, and the evolving need for individuals to retrain themselves to remain in employment.
  • In such a scenario, it is important that professionals study the impact of innovations on society in a holistic manner.
  • Evidence shows that certain educational experiences that integrate the arts and humanities with STEM at the undergraduate level are associated with increased critical thinking abilities, higher order thinking and deeper learning, content mastery, creative problem solving, teamwork and communication skills.

What is the scenario in India?

  • The situation is mixed as far as the inclusion of elements of general education in the curriculum for undergraduates is concerned.
  • Several engineering, and science education and research institutes have embedded general education programmes at the undergraduate level.
  • Such programmes are missing in most university-affiliated science colleges.
  • There are institutions that cater to a single stream which precludes the possibility of even an informal interaction between students and faculty with different specialisations

What is the way forward?

  • The focus of undergraduate education should be on classical disciplines, with enough credits for general education.
  • It is time to bridge the divide between the two cultures in the education system and evolve a third culture where the two sides understand and appreciate each other.


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