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September 14, 2009

Five faultlines in education

Extract from the speech of Manish Sabharwal, Chairman of TeamLease, at a discussion organized by Businessworld,
There are basically five faultlines in education but the interesting part is that these five faultlines — quantity versus quality, repair versus prepare, price versus cost, funding versus delivery, and excellence versus inclusion — don’t only apply to higher education...How we handle the trade-offs in these five faultlines will actually decide the difference (between growth and underdevelopment).

...Finally, we have to deal with excellence versus inclusion. John Gardner, then secretary of education, US, asked a profound question: can we be equal and excellent at the same time? That’s an important question in the context of reservations, but now I think about it in terms of quality versus quantity — the entry gate versus the exit gate. So, you can be like the IITs and IIMs, with tight entry gates and wide open exit gates. Or you could be like the Chartered Accountants’ Institute, with the wide open entry gate and a tight exit gate.

Today in vocational training, the entry gate and the exit gate are both wide open. So the system has no efficacy. Education has two values: education has a learning value and education has a signalling value. The signalling value of vocational training is very low. I would argue that the signalling value of an AICTE-certified MBA is also pretty low beyond the top 40-50 institutions who don’t talk about accreditation — they have got an independent standing.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private equity, venture capital and M&A deals in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports. Email the author at