What is the cost of Education?
A question that many know, but rarely anyone dares to ask themselves. Furthermore, what exactly is the cost of premiere education in India? In the times of Mahabharata, the cost of education was Eklavya’s thumb. In the current scenario, it is more than the life’s earnings of a middle-class family, not less than selling the soul to Satan himself. There are numerous related questions as well, including, does the cost of education affect the nation at large?
For a developing nation, education plays a vital role in strengthening the country through different channels. From a short-term perspective, it makes the population smarter and brighter, knowledgeable and aware of the worldly affairs. Considering the long-term benefits, education enables a country to introduce sustainable goals and plans to build a stronger society later on forming a developed nation. And as per the general fact of nature, an educated individual will earn more than an uneducated individual in an ideal situation, adding his share to the existing GDP.
Next question is, why is this a topic of discussion at the moment?
November 2012 marked a major stir in the fee structure of the Indian Institute of Technology, where the students faced a sudden hike in their studying expenses. The IT council suggested an 80% rise in the undergraduate fees, making it up to ₹90,000 a year. Source.
Imagine, a kid from a lower-middle-class family who studies hard to crack IIT. He shells out the hard-earned income of his father to join in coaching to prepare better and after two unsuccessful attempts, he finally makes in the list. And suddenly, there he finds out the fee structure of this government institute, which he believed earlier to be budget-friendly being a government-run institution. His dream to get a degree from a premier institute comes down crashing, as he fails to bear the fees for his education and eventually joins a general course with lower fees, compared to a professional one.
Here is a brief fees structure of IIT:
The year 2019 saw another stir, where the hostel fees of Jawaharlal Nehru University was revised after 19 odd years. Under the revised fees, students needed to pay a newly added service charge of Rs 1,700/ month. Further, the rent of a single room shot up from Rs 20/ month to Rs 600/ month, and similarly for a double-sharing room from Rs 10/ month to Rs 300/ month. Source
Delhi High Court gave the verdict in January 2020, stating, “Burden of paying contractual employees in state-run educational institutions cannot be put on students and the government has to find the funds.” Source
The premier education in India comes at a great cost, so it turns out to be a tedious task for many households to fund the education of their younger ones. In such cases, they end up studying at below the standard colleges, or at times, quitting their studies as well. Opting for government-run institutes offer no solace as well, owing to the high fee structures for professional courses.
The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad charges a whopping amount of 28 Lacs for a postgraduate course, being a government-run premier institution. Source. A middle-class student cannot even imagine entering such a course, owing to the fee structure.
As per the Constitution of India, “The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India to provide free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right in such a manner as the State may, by law, determine. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009, which represents the consequential legislation envisaged under Article 21-A, means that every child has a right to full-time elementary education of satisfactory and equitable quality in a formal school which satisfies certain essential norms and standards.” Source
The RTE requires to further extend and cover the complete education for students, removing quotas, reservations, and benefits of any sort, to offer free education to all, on the basis of knowledge and ability. This act shall enable the students to pursue an education at government-run premier institutions, without worrying about how to source the fees for the next semesters. Additionally, the citizens of India have to take care of the economy so that the government shall not suffer any losses while providing free education to all. This can be done by paying complete taxes on time, which will enable the government to complete the fund cycle effectively. Further, citizens require to assist in promoting better education by involving and volunteering themselves as wherever they may prove instrumental in teaching, guiding or assisting students. With such a framework in place, the country shall be termed as a developed state in a very small period of time, with one of the highest literacy rates and skills.