Is the Education System Failing Us Essay

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There are many reasons for one to despair about India but none is more heart-breaking than its poor education system. In fact, most development economists would agree that economic failure and a failed education system are causally linked. Two large economies, India and the US, are polar opposites in this context. The Academic Rankings of the World Universities (ARWU) report for 2012, conducted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, makes for depressing reading for anyone who cares about the Indian education system. The US, as usual, makes the headlines. Leading the pack, the top five spots in the world rankings are American: Harvard, Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Cambridge. It does not stop there, of course. In the top 20, the US captures 17 spots; 53 in the top 100; 85 in the top 200; and so on. The US dominates the world in education. The US rankings fill my heart with pride as I have been fortunate to have attended school in America. UC Berkeley is my alma mater — I learned economics there and received my PhD. I was a Reuters Fellow at Stanford. I got my master’s degree in computer science from Rutgers University (world rank 61.) But then my heart sinks with shame and sorrow when I look for India, my motherland, in the list. India has one university ranked in the top 500: the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. One solitary university ranked in the 400s — that’s all. China — a country which was as poor as India just three decades ago — has 42 in the top 500. India has ONE. Read that and weep, if you have any love and regard for India. India’s population is larger than the combined population of North America, Latin America, Northern Europe, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, and Oceania. Together those have regions have 428 in the top 500 — and India has one. Reading that every Indian should hang his or her head in shame. What’s even more

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