Nearly 36 lakh youths in Odisha have no access to college education!

High scale of privatisation in Odisha is apparently proving a dampener for a sizeable youth population for whom higher education has now become inaccessible

Bhubaneswar: The State in 2018-19 had a whopping 35.88 lakh youth in the age-group of 18-23 years, who were out of the higher education loop in Odisha. For which, Odisha’s total youths enrolled in higher education stands at around 2.7 per cent of total youths enrolled nationally. But the State’s youth population accounted for around 3.2 per cent of country’s youth populace.

Higher education (courses taken after 10+2) in Odisha seems to be out of bounds for such a vast number of youths amid the disconcerting fact of colleges per lakh youth population in the State remaining stagnant at 23 for the last eight years.

Odisha’s Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) in higher education has increased marginally to 22.1 per cent in 2018-19 from 22 per cent in 2017-18. The GER was 16 per cent in 2010-11. Odisha’s GER is below the national average.

And when the GER in category wise is looked into, the GER for Scheduled Castes (SC) improved to 20 per cent in 2018-19 from 18.8 per cent in 2017-18.

However, the GER had remained almost stagnant for the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the State. It improved to 12.8 per cent in 2018-19 from 12.5 per cent in 2017-18. And the GER of Odisha is poorest among the major states, except West Bengal and Chhattisgarh.

The national GER averages for SC and ST had improved to 23 per cent and 17.2 per cent, respectively, in 2018-19 from 21.8 per cent and 15.9 per cent, respectively, in 2017-18.

Another mega demographic change witnessed in Odisha’s higher education realm is, while the gender parity (female per 100 male students) as a whole remained static for the last 8-years, it saw deterioration in the weaker sections like SC and ST. The GPI in 2011-12 for SC was 0.83 that worsened to 0.76 in 2018-19. Similarly, in STs, the GPI dipped to 0.78 in 2018-19 from 0.82 in 2011-12.

Such diabolic demographic facts having huge repercussions on State’s employment, unemployment and overall development scenario have come to the fore in the report All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2018-19 released Monday.

An analysis shows how higher education in Odisha is mostly dominated by private sector, and how this high scale of privatisation in Odisha is apparently proving a dampener for a sizeable  youth population for whom higher education has now become inaccessible.

Sample this. Odisha has mere 347 Government colleges vis-a-vis of 705 private colleges. But a look at the enrolment proportion tells the story.

In Odisha, private colleges have an enrolment of 63.4 per cent, when they account for over 66 per cent of total colleges. And enrolment in Government colleges in Odisha stood at around 37 per cent, when they account for around 33 per cent of the total higher education colleges.

Take the recent instance of 2018. The year saw opening of two colleges, one each in private and government sector, respectively. The enrolment says it all. While enrolment in the private college was mere 57, it stood at a massive 138 for the government college.

The evolving messy scenario in higher education system in State was also to fore when the AISHE 2018-19 revealed a decline in PTR (Pupil-Teacher Ratio) to 27 in 2018-19 from 19 in 2012-13. Data also shows a deterioration in the PTR at the university level in the State.