New Delhi, Sept. 28: India doesn’t have enough good science teachers and science students make up the largest chunk of jobless post-graduates, a report released today by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.
Confirming long-standing apprehensions among science analysts, the first India Science Report has detected flaws in teaching, high unemployment, and regional imbalances at a time of growth in science education.
The report, produced by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) on a request from the Indian National Science Academy, has found that 63 per cent of unemployed post-graduates are science students.
The report claims an increase in enrolment for science courses from 29 per cent in 1995-96 to 35 per cent in 2004.
But analysts have pointed out gross discrepancies between the NCAER study and science enrolment data from the University Grants Commission (UGC) and have questioned some of the conclusions.
Singh said the human resource development ministry as well as states need to take note of the findings and initiate “remedial action” to improve science teaching and regional imbalances.
The report has said a dearth of “good and motivated teachers” at higher levels in schools leads many students to become dissatisfied with their science lessons as they move from classes VI-VIII to XI-XII.
The report said regional imbalances in facilities make education expensive and inequitable, available only to those who can afford it.
The NCAER has used its findings to suggest a rise in the enrolment for science courses. Engineering has witnessed the highest growth from 5.4 to 26 per cent over the past decade.
The report is based on a nationwide survey of 346,000 individuals and detailed questionnaires sent to 30,000 people.
It said despite low levels of literacy, Indians don’t fare too badly against Americans in their attitudes to science.
Analysing public perceptions of science, the report also claimed that Indians are as “attentive” to science as Americans, with attentiveness defined as consciously seeking information on specific subjects.
Some 23 per cent of the Indian public sampled was attentive to agriculture against just 6 per cent Americans as indicated by a survey two years ago.
The proportion of Indians attentive to new scientific discoveries in India is claimed by the report to be 12 per cent, against 7 per cent in the US.
Pointing out the discrepancies, science analysts say UGC reports engineering enrolment of 4 per cent, while the NCAER figure is 26 per cent. The UGC figure for commerce is 13 per cent, while NCAER’s is 6 per cent.
One explanation could be while the UGC report would contain data from only institutions affiliated to it, NCAER’s would cover others as well.
An NCAER official said discrepancies might also emerge from widespread under-reporting of enrolment by colleges.