“ Has wider access to education increased social mobility in India? writes Hasan Suroor in Education is a necessary but not a sufficient basis for social mobility on thehindu.com. She interviews Oxford academic Craig Jeffrey, ‘a fellow and tutor in Geography at St. John’s College, who speaks fluent Hindi and Urdu’ and ‘who spent several years in India and has written a book Timepass: Youth, Class, and the Politics of Waiting in India (Stanford University Press, California).’
Suroor: In Britain there’s a debate going on about class and mobility and studies have shown that formal education has not necessarily led to mobility and that class still matters. What does your search say about India?
Jeffrey: I argue that education is a necessary but not a sufficient basis for social mobility. Large numbers of young people acquire high school diplomas or degrees in India but not all of these youth can obtain the secure, salaried jobs that they have been led to expect. Education provides a sense of entitlement but not always the problem-solving skills that allow young people to start businesses. This is particularly a problem in north India, where education is widely available but opportunities for social mobility rather rare. People have in a sense “discovered” education at almost the precise moment at which formal schooling has ceased to be a passport to success.
He also said:
- “Indian higher education suffers from a lack of continuous assessment and active learning. Teachers and students tend to focus on examinations and curricular review tends to be slow.”
- “Through acquiring a string of degrees, they slowly come to accept that their education is not going to provide a portal to riches or fame, and they ultimately return to a family farm or engage in low-paid white-collar work in the informal economy – “fallback jobs.” This is also happening in higher education in the U.K.”
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