Systemic Maladies Demand Systemic Remedies: In The Context Of Indian University Education System


( Following is the Text of  Presidential Address Delivered By Dr.K.S. Sharma, President, Indian Academy of Social Sciences, ISSA, Allahabad, at the 41st  Indian Social Science Congress, held in Salem, Tamilnadu. The Annual event , held for five days from December 18 to 22, 2017, was attended by a few hundred academicians, educationists, and research scholars.   Sharma  is  Joint  Director, Indian Institute of Marxist Theory and Practice, Hubballi, Karnataka. )


I deem it a great pleasure to deliver the Presidential Address of the 41st Indian Social Science Congress, being held under the auspices of Periyar University at Salem, on a subject of great current relevance: Indian University Education System; A Critical Appraisal. This Congress organized by the Indian Academy of Social Sciences, in association with Periyar University,  is highly relevant at this juncture when Indian independence has crossed seventy years, only to find itself at cross-roads, not only regarding its University Education System, but also regarding the very politico-socio-economic structure. It is only appropriate that the cream of the intelligentia from the academic world, from all parts of the country drawn from various Universities and Research Institutes have congregated not only to discuss thread-bare the crisis, but also to find solutions thereof. It is all the more appropriate that we have all assembled at this University at Salem, in Tamil Nadu, named to commemorate the legendary Social Reformer, Thiru E.V. Ramaswamy, popularly, reverentially and affectionately called “Thanthai Periyar”, and which has also an “Anna chair” established to mark the centenary celebrations of another legendary figure, the great Annadurai. I do not think it will be out of place for me to state that I personally feel highly privileged to be here at Salem to deliver the Presidential Address, as my grand-parents hailed from a village near Hosur, a neighbouring city of Salem.

With this prelude, let me come to the Theme of my Presidential Address, which I have titled as  SYSTEMIC MALADIES DEMAND SYSTEMIC REMEDIES: (In the context of  Indian University education System). This title may look odd, but you will realize its appropriateness when I present a critique of the Indian University Education System.

This Critique is presented in three major parts. These deal with the past, present and future, under the captions, “The University Education System in colonial India”, “The Indian University Education System in Post-Independent India” and “what should be the future of Indian University Education”.

Part I

“The University Education System in Colonial India”

A perusal of the past is necessary to enable a proper understanding of the present as also for getting an insight of the future.

The renowned Historian E.H. Carr writes as follows:

“The function of the historian is neither to love the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present. Great history is written precisely when the historian’s vision of the past is illuminated by insight into problems of the present. …The function of history is to promote a profound understanding of both past and present through the inter-relation between them”.

  • (Carr, E.H. What is History,  P. 20, 31, 62).

In understanding the colonial past we restrict ourselves to the British Colonizing India, because this kind of colonization was distinct. As Romilla Thapar puts it:

“The coming of the Europeans, and the colonization of India by Britain, was an altogether different experience. They came from distant lands, were physically different, spoke languages which were entirely alien and in which there had been no prior communication; their rituals, religion and customs were alien; their exploitation of land and labour exceeded that of the previous period; and above all they did not settle in India”.

  • (Romilla Thapar, Cultural Pasts,  Oxford University Press, 2000, Ninth impression, 2010, P. 994)

It is this specific colonization with reference to University Education System in India that we refer to in this context.

The following developments need to be noted in understanding the Colonization of University Education in India. They are

[i]      Minute by Macaulay dated 2nd February 1835,

[ii]     Sir Charles Woods “Dispatch of 1854,

[iii]    The first Indian Education Commission of 1882.

A few excerpts from Macaulay’s Minute 1835, would throw light on the clandestine intentions of the British in introducing English as the medium of Instruction in India.

It is an inescapable part of  history,  to quote  Minute by Macaulay, dated 2nd February 1835, “whenever we talk of English as the medium of instruction in higher education and finding the basis for the reforms introduced in the English Education Act of 1835. Macaulay, who was Secretary to the Board of Control under Lord Grey from 1832 until 1833, after passing of the Government of India Act of 1833, was appointed as the first Law Member of the Governor Generates Council. He came to India in 1834, serving the Supreme Council of India between 1834 and 1838, he was instrumental in creating the foundations of bilingual colonial India, by convincing the Governor-General to adopt English as the medium of instruction in higher education, from the sixth year of schooling onwards, rather than Sanskrit or Persian then used in the institutions supported by the East India Company. By doing so, Macaulay wanted to “educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother tongue” and thus, by incorporating English, he sought to “enrich” the Indian Languages so “that they could becomes vehicles for European Scientific, historical and literary expression”. Macaulay’s preference for the English language was based on his view of local languages, as “poor and rude” and on his belief that the body of writing available in Sanskrit and Arabic was no match for the scholarship available in English. His oft quoted, statement which is famous and included in his “Minute on Indian Education” (1835) stated “all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written in Sanskrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgements used in primary schools in England”. He had also said “a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia”. These statements of Macaulay have been described by critics like Ramachandra Guha “as undeniably both arrogant and illiterate”, for Macaulay himself did not read a single work in Arab or Indian language. Guha also says that it was on Macaulay’s recommendation that English came to be promoted as both a lingua franca and the medium of education in India. He states :  “The minute is reviled by natives, who think it condemned India and Indians to centuries of mental servitude; but is revered by the modernists, who argue that it allowed Indians to take advantage of the modern economy and thus emancipate themselves from the burdens of a traditional and hierarchical society”. (Past and Present: Macaulay’s Minute revisited by Ramachandra Guha.)

Thus we find Macaulay’s Minute had a dual effect on India, one modernizing, and the other destroying, the indigenous culture and scholarship. In this context we are reminded of the remarks of Karl Marx on the laying of the network of railways inside India as of crucial importance and how the following remarkable passage of Marx foresaw the future:

“I know that the English millocracy intended to endow India with railways with the exclusive view of extracting at diminished expenses the cotton and other raw materials for their manufactures. But when you have once introduced machinery into the locomotion of a country, which possesses iron and coal, you are unable to withhold it from its fabrication …. The railway system will therefore become, in India, truly the fore-runner of modern industry.” (Karl Marx,  Tribune, 8th August 1853; on Colonialism, P. 84). Karl Marx had also described the British rule as a “bleeding process” and hence it would be useful to study a few extracts from  Macaulay’s Minute of 2nd February 1835.

The Minute by Macaulay, submitted to the then Governor General William Bentink, to which Bentink had put his endorsement by saying: “I give my entire concurrence to the sentiments expressed in this Minute”, contains 36 long paragraphs, and is a document worth an in-depth study for getting an insight into the designs of the colonizers to establish their dominance over the colonized and hence a few excerpts are reproduced hereunder:

Macaulay’s Minute was submitted to the Governor General as a detailed reaction to the interpretation placed by the Committee of Public Instruction, to the Act of 1813 of the British Parliament, wherein the Members of the Board of Public Instruction opined that a fund of Rs. One Lakh was to be spent only  on imparting education in Sanskrit and Arabic, and not on any other language, and Macaulay strongly pleading that such an interpretation shall not be placed on the legislative enactment and that the said fund shall be used only for introducing and imparting education through English medium from Sixth standard, and in the concluding part of the Minute threatening to resign from the Board if his opinion is not accepted. This following statement amplifies this view:

“We are a Board for wasting Public Money, for Printing Books which are of less value than the paper on which they are printed, while it was blank for giving artificial encouragement to absurd history, absurd metaphysics, absurd physics, absurd theology ……. For raising a breed of scholars who find their scholarship in encumbrance and blemish, who live on the public while they are receiving their education, and whose education is so utterly useless to them that, when they have received it, they must either starve or live on the public all the rest of their lives, Entertaining these opinions, I am naturally desirous to decline all share in the responsibility of a body, which, unless it alters its whole mode of proceedings, I must consider, not merely as useless, but as positively noxious”.

Macaulay pleads for being permitted to retire from the Chair of the Committee. Such were his strong feelings which aired the absurdity of Sanskrit and Arabic scholarship and funding such learning, and more strongly advocate English medium of instruction from Sixth Standard in India.

In this background I reproduce a few of the excerpts of this longish Minute:

“We have to educate a people who cannot at present be educated by means of their mother tongue. We must teach them some foreign language. The claims of our own language it is hardly necessary to recapitulate…. English is the language spoken by the ruling class. It is spoken by the higher class of natives at the seats of Government ….We shall see the strongest reason to think that, of all foreign tongues, the English tongue is that which would be the most useful to our native subjects”.

“I can by no means admit that, when a nation of high intellectual attainments undertakes to superintend the education of a nation comparatively ignorant, the learners are absolutely to prescribe the course which is to be taken by the teachers. …… We are not at present securing the co-operation of the natives. It would be bad enough to consult their intellectual taste at the expense of their intellectual health. But we are consulting neither. We are withholding from them the learning which is palatable to them. We are forcing on them the mock learning which they nauseate”.

“The People of India do not require to be paid for eating rice when they are hungry, or for wearing woolen cloth in cold season….Why then it is necessary to pay people to learn Sanskrit or Arabic? Evidently because it is universally felt that the Sanskrit and Arabic are languages the knowledge of which does not compensate for the trouble of acquiring them. On all such subjects the state of the market is the detective test”.

“They have wasted the best years of life in learning what procures them neither bread nor respect. Surely we might with advantage have saved the cost of making these persons useless and miserable … But such is our policy … We are content to leave the natives to the influence of their own hereditary prejudices. Bounties and premiums, such as ought not to be given even for propagation of truth, we lavish on false texts and false Philosophy”.

“…  What we spend on the Arabic and Sanskrit colleges is not merely a dead loss to the cause of truth. It is a bounty-money paid to raise up champions of error”.

“The Committee have thought fit to lay out above a lakh of rupees in printing Arabic and Sanskrit books. Those books find no purchasers. … About twenty thousand rupees a year are spent in adding fresh masses of waste paper to a hoard, which, one should think, is already sufficiently ample. …The sale of Arabic and Sanskrit books during those years has not yielded quite one thousand rupees. In the meantime, the School Book Society, is selling seven or eight thousand volumes every year, and not only pays the expenses of printing but realized a profit of twenty percent, on its outlay”. …It is said that the Sanskrit and the Arabic are the languages in which the sacred books of a hundred millions of people are written, and that they are on that account entitled to peculiar encouragement … It is confined that a language is barren of useful knowledge. We are to teach it because it is fruitful of monstrous superstitions. We are to teach false history, false astronomy, false  medicine”.

“To sum up what I have said: I think it clear that we are not fettered by the Act of Parliament of 1813, that we are not fettered by any pledge express or implied, that we are free to employ our funds as we choose, that we ought to employ them in teaching what is best worth knowing, that English is better worth knowing than Sanskrit or Arabic, that the natives are desirous to be taught English, and are not desirous to be taught Sanskrit or Arabic, that neither as the languages of law nor as the languages or religion have the Sanskrit and Arabic any peculiar claim to our encouragement, that it is possible to make natives of this country thoroughly good English scholars, and that to this end our efforts ought to be directed”. “We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern – a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population”. “But I would strike at the root of the bad system which has thitherto been fostered by us. I would at once stop the printing of Arabic and Sanskrit books. I would abolish the Mudrassa and the Sanskrit College at Calcutta. Benares is the great seat of Brahminical Learning; Delhi of Arabic learning. If we retain the Sanskrit College at Banaras and the Mahomedan College at Delhi, we do enough and much more than enough in my opinion, for Eastern languages. … I would at least recommend that no stipends shall be given to any students who may hereafter repair thither, but the people shall be left to make their own choice between the rival systems of education without being bribed by us to learn what they have no desire to know. The funds which would thus be placed at our disposal would enable us to give larger encouragement to the Hindu College at Calcutta, and establish in the principal cities throughout the Presidencies of Fort William and Agra Schools in which English language might be well and thoroughly taught”.

These excerpts throw enough light on the attitude of British imperialist rulers who, after the Macaulay Minute of 1835, adopted the policy of massacre of indigenous scholarship and imposed English on the natives over whom they were ruling. What is evident is that it was a class education and not a mass education, and the entire exercise of Macaulay on designing English medium was to prepare a class among the natives to perpetrate British imperialist rule in India.

In this context, it is relevant to quote Karl Marx, who said : Ruling ideas are the ideas of the Ruling Classes.  Macaulay’s Minute, reveals beyond an iota of doubt that what Marx propounded was true to the core. Further, without elaboration, it can be said without the fear of contradiction that “Macaulayism”, i.e., the term which depicts the frame of mind or attitude which symbolizes the  adoption  of  Western Culture as a life-style or display attitudes influenced by colonizers, continued to prevail even after British imperialists transferred power to the Indian ruling classes, i.e., the Bourgeois and the Land Lord Classes, on 15th August 1947. Indeed the term used to portray this class, i.e., “Macaulay’s Children” has become prevalent. In this context it is significant to note the observation of Karl Marx about Macaulay, who referred to him  as a Systematic falsifier of History.

In this context, it is also important to note the following comment of Mahatma Gandhi on British Colonial Education:

“I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or hundred years ago, and so is Burma, because the British Administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out”.

  • (Mahatma Gandhi’s Speech at Chatham House, London, October 20, 1931).

[ii] Charles Woods Despatch of 1854: For the first time this recognized the need for mass education with private and missionary help and gave up the policy of selective education known as the “filtration theory”.  Sir Charles Wood’s epoch-making Despatch of 1854 led to [1] the creation of a separate department for the administration of education in each province. [2] the founding of the Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras in 1857, and [3] the introduction of the system of grant-in-aid. [4] Then came the next important development, the first Indian Education Commission of 1882, which recommended the initiative of Private Agencies in the expansion of Education.

As the freedom struggle continued its sway, a new trend started with a missionary zeal and National Educational Institutions were launched. They were highly critical of colonization of higher education, but despite this, domination of the British Imperial Government on Education and its strangle-hold continued unabated.

Before concluding this part,  it is pertinent to note that in 1882 Mahatma Jyotiba Phule presented a Memorandum to Indian Education Commission (i.e., Hunter Commission), and said that British Government funding of education tending to benefit Brahmins and the higher classes, while leaving the masses wallowing in ignorance and poverty. What is paradoxical is that even after 70 years of independence in India, things have not changed, the vast masses of  depressed castes and oppressed classes have been deprived of even primary education let alone University education.

Part II

Indian University Education System in Post-Independent era

In this part let us probe into the scenario that has prevailed from the day India is said to have become independent, till date, that is, in a span of more than seventy years. While this is a very large canvas certain relevant developments are mentioned here to enable us to understand as to how the basic principles of colonial education, as reflected in the Macaulay Minute of 1835 have continued to rule the roost in one form or another even till date.

In this context it is pertinent to note that what was called independence was in reality a transfer of power from the British imperialist rulers to the Indian ruling classes, the Comprador  Bourgeois – Land Lord Classes. In this context, it is worth noting the statement of Jawaharlal Nehru, in the Constituent Assembly, wherein he said:  “One has to be careful of the steps one takes so as not to injure the existing structure too much …. I am not brave and gallant enough to go about destroying any more”. This fundamental declaration by the one who later became the first Prime Minister of India, is a clear expression of the deal which the comprador bourgeois-land lord classes and its representatives had arrived at with imperialism and feudalism. The final culmination of this conspiracy of betrayal in the early independence period was the formation of the Constituent Assembly and the Constitution passed by it. T. Nagi Reddy, one of the leading Revolutionaries of India, stated in the Special Additional Sessions Court, Hyderabad Conspiracy Case, in 1971-72,  as follows in this regard:

The Constitution of India is the epitome of the total betrayal of the people of India”.

  • (T. Nagi Reddy, India Mortgaged , T. Nagi Reddy Memorial Trust.)

The following comment by Dr. K.R. Rao, veteran political scientist,  is worth noting:

“When independence was achieved, it was expected that the country would get rid of the unhealthy legacy of British System of education. …On the basis of this conviction, provision was made in the Indian Constitution for Universal Education”.

  • (Dr. K. R. Rao, Fifty years of India’s Freedom,  ISSA, 1997).

That even this has not been realized till date will be shown in the analysis that follows:

Now let us understand the developments in the field of Indian University Education in the Post-Independence phase and then subject it to scrutiny.

India did make concerted efforts to increase access to higher education and rapid strides were witnessed in this sector. By 1980, there were 132 Universities and 4738 colleges in the country enrolling about five percent of the eligible age group in higher education. It is not only in the governmental sector but also in the Private Sector which was also to an extent funded by way of grant-in-aid. In the private sector while the private institutions met major part of capital costs, public subsidies were provided to meet recurrent costs and these were regulated through regulatory mechanisms.

With the advent of Globalization, Liberalisation and Privatisation, as a matter of policy, in 1990 the scenario in the field of Indian University Education System changed drastically, with the private sector becoming more dominant and the pattern of Public-Private Partnership on the increase. From the concept of affiliating Universities, the concept of deemed-to be Universities came to be witnessed. With this new spurt in Privatization of University Education, we find a phenomenal growth in both the number of Universities and the number of Colleges as also the enrolment of students. From 1947 to 2005, we found the number of Universities increase from 20 to 348 and the Colleges from 496 to 17,625, while the enrolment increased from nearly 2 lakhs to 105 lakhs. But what was paradoxical was that this growth catered to only 7% of the age-group from 18 to 25 years. When compared to other developing countries this growth was certainly very low and disappointing. Indonesia catered to 11%, Brazil catered to 12% and Thailand to 20%. These statistics indicate the low rate of growth of higher education in Post-Independent India. It is interesting to note that the Birla-Ambani reports on the policy Framework for educational Reform suggested that the government subsidies on higher education should be minimal and that it should concentrate on Primary Education Sector as per Constitutional guarantees and perhaps focus on Secondary Education too, but leave University Education to Private University by legislation.

The following observation of Kapur Devesh and Mehta Pratap Bhanu brings into focus the consequences of this type of development:

“Most observers of higher education in India feel that performance of higher education institutions has been less than satisfactory in terms of access, equity and quality. The reason of course is said to be the ambivalent attitude of the state”.

  • (Kapur, Devesh and Mehta, Pratap Bhanu (2004), Indian Higher Educational Reform: From Half-Baked Socialism to Half-Baked Capitalism. CID Working Paper No. 108, Harvard University, Centre for International Development).

The question that arises now is, with the country set to become one of the youngest nations in the world by 2030, around 140 million people will be in the College-age group – can the country live up to its aim of delivering World-Class higher education system? Despite strong ambitions, the higher education system in India still lags behind the standards of the world’s best Universities. In the US World University Rankings 2015-16, only two Indian Universities were featured in the top 200, while just 10 made it to the top 700.

It is interesting to note that the Central Govt. has declared certain schemes to improve the higher education system in India, this year (2017).

In the budget speech this year (2017), the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, stated a number of measures intended to improve the quality of higher education in India. The “Higher Education Financing Agency” (HEFA),  a not for profit organization responsible for improving the infrastructure of the country’s top Universities, was  one of the main initiatives announced. It was given 100 billion rupees to improve standards.

The second proposal was that the country develops 20 world-class institutions: 10 Public and 10 Private. It is yet to be announced, which institutions will be selected as the focal points for these targets.

While these goals are admirable, the higher education system in India remains plagued by challenges. What is important to be noted is that while budgetary allotment is made for setting up of World-Class University, the proposal is to select 10 from Public and 10 from Private! This reflects the mind-set of the government towards giving equal importance to 10 Private Universities along with the Public Universities. A typical LPG Policy being reflected!

Global Education Monitoring (Gem) Report, 2017-18

The Global Education Monitoring Report was published on 4th November 2017,  and provides the most recent position of Education at the global as also the Indian level.

As per the report, 264 million children around the globe are denied education. U.N. in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG4) aims to provide elementary education to all the children globally by 2030, but the report says that though 83 percent children go to school, only 45 percent are able to complete secondary school education.

Regarding the position in India as reported in the GEM Report, UNESCO’s representative Shigeru Aoyagi states: “When we look at the literacy levels and numbers in India, 35% of the world’s illiterate population is here in India. There were 12 million children who do not go to school. So the challenge is big”. “Going by the current trend, India will be half a Century late in achieving its global educational commitment and the country needs fundamental changes in the educational system if it wants to meet the 2030 sustainable development goals”, the UNESCO Report has said. India is expected to achieve Universal Primary Education in 2050; Universal Lower Secondary Education in 2060 and Universal Upper Secondary Education in 2085 it said.

This means India would be more than half a Century late for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) dead-line”.

The GEM Report of 2017-18 reveals the status of India in reaching the SDGs set by the UNESCO and exposes the utterly slow growth of education. This report also reveals another incontrovertible truth that rich people have 5 times more access to early education than the poor, which evidences the lop-sided development in not only Universal Primary Education but also the University Education.

These reflections relating to educational development in India show it is undoubtedly a systemic malady. India in its Constitution adopted on 26th January 1950, replicated the British System of governance in designing its Parliament, the executive and the Judiciary, by adopting almost verbatim 70 percent of what was contained in the Govt. of India Act, 1935, which was designed by the British Imperialists to rule Colonial India. Similarly it replicated the Macaulay Minute of 1835, and continued unabated the British Model of Colonial University Education System in India, even after Indian independence and even after it became a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”, which was only a name-sake, as India continued even after independence as a semi-colonial, semi-feudal society.

In this context it is pertinent to refer to the Conference held at Penang, Malaysia from 27th to 29th June 2011 and titled De-colonising our Universities. Many leading academicians from the erstwhile Colonized World  participated in this Conference. The Conference permeated the spirit of ridding the knowledge systems of Euro-Centric hegemony. The Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, Pawan Verma, lamented the effects of Colonisation of Indian mind, which for him, still persist to-day. He said that the derision shown for Indian culture by the colonial masters had been “internalized by the ruled”, the colonizer created an education system that suited their interests, and importantly Indian languages lost their salience during the colonial rule. These vital observations of  Pawan Verma, are pointers to the dire need to rid Indian University Education System of the Colonial elements. Hence the need for  Decolonization of University Education System.

In this context, it would be of utmost importance to place on record the students demanding the Authorities of the world-famous Cambridge University in England, to “decolonize” courses. This movement that has been launched in October 2017, assumes great significance for India, as the demand for “decolonizing ”  has started in the country that colonized India and ruled it for nearly two centuries. The movement to “decolonize courses” commenced, when one of the students, Lola Olufeni, Women’s Officer for the Cambridge University student Union, summarized the ideas in an open letter, which was signed by 100 students and sent to the head of the English Faculty in June, 2017. The demand placed in this Open Letter was to broaden the English Curriculum to be more inclusive of literature from the global South. It is pertinent to note that after the above movement was started, Oxford University in a recent move included a history paper on non-European history. This move for decolonizing of courses has now spread to the Department of Sociology, Philosophy, history of art etc. A part of the letter written by Lola Olufeni reads as follows:

“It is no longer acceptable to present male, European authors as the gold standard of knowledge, and marginalized groups are shaking the academy for all angles”.

What is further stated in the Letter is “White Writers perpetuate Institutional racism”.

When the movement for the “decolonization of University lessons”, has started in Cambridge University, in the land of the colonizers themselves, is it not appropriate and absolutely necessary for us in India to start a rigorous movement to root out the roots of British legacy in the Indian University Education System by decolonizing it?

Part III

“Systemic Maladies demand Systemic Remedies”

The third and the final part of this Address deals with the issue: Systemic maladies demand Systemic Remedies.

The analysis presented in the first and the second parts of the Address make it amply clear that whatever maladies are inherent in the Indian University Education System are maladies of not only the Education System, but are in fact the maladies of the system itself and hence the maladies of the University education system are off-shoots of the Politico-Socio-Economic-Cultural System itself. Hence in order to find remedies for these maladies, a comparative study of the other systems and the way they have handled Education, is undertaken. While I do not go into elaborate details, I only present concisely the educational systems in Cuba and China, which are socialists systems.

Let us commence with a look into the System of Education in Cuba, after the revolution led by Fidel Castro, who established Marxist Rule in Cuba. After a successful revolution in Cuba, in 1959, Fidel Castro, became the Prime Minister, and Education was designed based on Marxist ideology. As Cuba became officially Socialist, children followed the principle Marxism of combining work and study. In Cuba, education was seen as a key to the revolution taking hold and creating a literate population loyal to the government. The foundations of Castro’s new social and socialist order were premised on the common understanding that only good-quality empowering education could conquer Cuba’s acute poverty, ignorance and under- development. World Bank has said that Cuba is the only country in Latin America with a high quality education system. Cuba allocates the highest share of its national budget, i.e.,  13 percent on education. According to Dr. Paul Torres, top ranking official of Cuba’s Ministry of Education,  “Cuba offers free education from the cradle to the grave. From Pre-School Programmes to doctorates, education is free and available to all”.

Cuba, within three years of the Revolution, by 1962, the illiteracy dropped from 23.6 percent to 3.6 percent and soon after it achieved the status of one of the highest literacy rates in the World. Education is mandatory through the 9th grade. After that, the youngsters have the option of three years of pre-university programme or going to vocational school.

Higher Education in Socialist Cuba caters to the needs of Cuban development. Cuban Education System has become a model. By 2010 its literacy method had been adopted in 28 Latin American, Caribbean, African, European and Oceanic countries. It is a matter of pride for Cuba that they have one citizen with a University degree for  every  10 people, and there are 60 Universities imparting higher Education. All this has been achieved despite the economic sanctions imposed on Cuba by the U.S. Imperialists.

We should not forget that the Cuban population is about 125th the size of Indian population and has achieved magnificent feats not only in Education, but also in all other areas of development, and these have been possible because it is a socialist system. Thus the nature of the system not only shapes its Education but also the social structure itself, which is not controvertible.

Now, let us proceed to sum up the achievements of China’s higher education Institutes after the victory of the Socialist Revolution in China under Mao’s leadership.

Let us at the outset record the global rankings the Chinese Universities enjoy. A total of 66 institutions from China were included in a World-University ranking published in September 2017 by the Times Higher Education. According to the 14th annual edition of its World University Rankings, the list of top 1,000 Universities from 77 countries and regions, there are two Chinese main land institutions in the top 30 for the first time. According to Phil Baty, editorial director of the rankings from Times Higher Education, “our rankings show that the Asian giant’s higher education improvement is real and growing. With two top – 30 representatives for the first time in the 13-year history of the rankings, China’s leading Universities are truly now part of the global elite and overtaking prestigious Universities in U.S., U.K and Europe”.

Presently China has worked out an ambitious plan to make 42 Universities and 95 disciplines to achieve “World Class” status.

It is interesting to note that women dominate higher education in China. In 2016, 50.6 percent of post-graduate students were female, exceeding the percentage of men for the first time. In the same year, women accounted for 52.5 percent of admissions as college students.

After Xi Jinping was reelected as China’s President, he has ushered in certain vital changes relating to Higher Education in China. While delivering his opening speech to the 19th CPC National Congress, he expressed his commitment to increased spending on Vocational Training. He also announced his policy decision to convert 600 general universities into vocational colleges. The emphasis has been shifted to provide high quality talents with skills and knowledge to meet the demands of production frontline.

Another important shift is the emphasis to enroll more students from poor and rural regions in the Chinese Top-Level Universities in 2017 and also to admit 10% more students who are poor in the Universities during this academic year.

A very important policy shift has also been ushered in. Minister for Education has said that Chinese higher Education Institutes have to promote Marxist Theory and cultivate socialist core values. Higher Education Institutes should become the main source in developing philosophy and social sciences and push forward innovation. This is a direction issued to Institutes of Higher Education to sinicize, modernize and popularize Marxism and develop theories to fit into the changing conditions in the 21st Century. This is another recent innovation in developing Chinese Higher Education.

Another important development has been that President Xi Jinping had given a call to all the Universities and Colleges in China to declare their allegiance to the ruling Communist Party. Further a direction had been given not to spread “Western Values” at Universities. A perusal into the above aspects highlight the importance of imparting Marxian ideology in all Educational Institutions so that the products of these Institutions would dedicate themselves to the building of a formidable Socialist Society in the establishment of humanism based on Marxian tenets.

Before I part with the presentation of the achievements of the Chinese Universities, it is essential to record China’s higher education mega project. The Peking University of China has announced that it will spend 11.7 million U.S. Dollars on opening a business school in Oxford early next year (2018). This has attracted a great deal of attention in U.K. media as well as in educational circles. It is interesting to find that China has chosen the premises of the prestigious Oxford University of U.K. for this venture. Peking University has purchased the Foxcombe Hall from Oxford University for housing their new business school, at a cost of 8.8 million pounds. In addition to this, China’s Higher Education System has been expanding at an astonishing rate. In 2017, the Chinese higher education Institutes have recorded eight million student graduates. This accounts for twice the number graduating from United States.

International higher Education is evolving and China is developing its own forms of transnational higher education within China also.

China has a target of attracting 500,000 international students and it had reached 4,42,773 students studying in China last year. China aims at 11.4 percent increase for the coming year (2018).

While U.K., Europe and U.S. are distracted by chaotic internal politics, China is quietly developing and expanding its higher education mega projects.

All these national and international growth or in Educational growth has not been possible in India, despite its crossing seventy long years of Independence, while China, which succeeded in its revolution in 1949, much later, has been able to achieve magnificent results. In analyzing this million-dollar Question, many explanations have been offered and I present some of them here for a critical appraisal.

One reason adduced for India’s low productivity and quality relative to China is comparative poverty. But China before the revolution was under the grip of colonization, it was as much a rural peasant economy with many features common to that of India, and of course, with a much bigger population. Poverty was not uncommon to China during colonization. Then what makes the difference? Obviously,  the different political structures of the two countries. While India opted for a continuity of the British parliamentary model, and the hegemony of the comprador  bourgeois- land lord ruling class, the British Legacy of Education continuing intact, China defeating the colonizers, established a Socialist Rule, the peasantry being at the vanguard of the Revolution along with the Working Class under the leadership of Mao. A new system, a Socialist System was established. While in India, a Bourgeois-Land Lord rule with the mask of Parliamentary Democracy was established. As analysed at Part-I and expanded in Part-II, all the maladies of the Indian University Education System were an off-shoot of the reactionary semi-feudal, semi-colonial system that was established after independence. Then what are the remedies?

Systemic maladies demand systemic remedies. It is only a structural change that shall have to be brought about by a revolution led by the exploited classes to overthrow the exploiting ruling classes, that the maladies that we have been witnessing in India can find remedies.

I conclude my Presidential Address by emphatically stating that “Systemic maladies demand Systemic remedies”.


(Dr KS Sharma (born 1934), a Retired Professor of Law, and a doctorate in political science is  based in  Hubli, Karnataka. He is the  Founder of  Indian Institute of Marxist Theory and Practice, and has been a leader of working class for over 45 years now, focused on unorganized labor, and as Founder-President of Karnataka State Govt. Dailywage Employees Federation, successfully organized one lakh dailywagers of Govt of Karnataka who got regularized after 30 years of struggle that included street battles and legal battles going upto Supreme Court. He is a great teacher in many subjects, a prolific writer,  poet, dramatist, literary critic, columnist, publisher, orator, and an activist-social scientist who was a Vice-President, and now President of ISSA ,  Indian Social Science Academy. He was a Soviet Land Awardee for Literature, and given titles like Karnataka Sri , Kannada Sri. He is the Founder President of a group of Institutions including Institute of Naturopathy and Yoga (founded 20 years ago) , FMRRC- Fluorosis Mitigation Research and Resource Centre, Chairman of an Ayurvedic Hospital cum college,  Dr. Da Ra Bendre (Jnana Peeth Awardee) Research Institute ( which edited and published about 150 books by Bendre), an ITI,   all located in Vishwa Shrama Chetana campus, Hubli, Karnataka.

He has been a contributor to the  Another  significant lecture by KS Sharma  on Decolonization of Medicine was also published in, as well as its Anthology, Connecting the Dots.  He may be contacted at : [email protected])



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