THE PROCESS OF DESTRUCTIVE CREATION : Inflation qualifications (Part Two)

Given that an analysis of the situation  will only increase  our frustration and  demonstrate our failures,  it is better to be  positive and  look at some possible solutions  which I hope our policymakers  can consider  and  professionals in the field  can respond. I will only briefly highlight  some solutions to trigger  a discussion.
1. Quality  Education and Training  Providers  
 The  key for success is  quality  if  we want to develop an educational hub and acquire a well  qualified  human capital to  contribute to  economic  growth.  The  Singapore example  may be  emulated  in terms of    the range of  institutions  and  the government   has established  a list of recognized  degrees  since the   1980s  in which many UK universities (earlier polytechnics)  are not recognized.  Moreover, quality   professors   are recruited from the top 10 world   universities.  Many Mauritian students  are averse to National University of  Singapore  because of  its high level of teaching and rigorous examinations.   The minimum  entry  requirements and  the  high rate of failures  have built the reputation  of  the University  which is a center of excellence.  In  Mauritius, we  have done the opposite in terms of  entry requirements,  quality of lecturers and  poorly designed courses  far from international  standards in good universities.  The only way to ensure quality is through regulation and   competition  discussed  next.  

2. Regulatory framework and  barriers to entry
The regulation of  the education  sector especially  tertiary education should be in the hands of  experts.  The regulatory  body for instance like  Tertiary  Education Commission  should  have a  well established set of rules  to  monitor entry,  provide information to  students,   ensure the quality of teaching staff,  have  capacity to  evaluate research  and  benchmark the quality of our institutions.

3. International benchmark  and World recognition
The standard  should be set up  based on international benchmarking  and  world best practice in any field of  reaching and research to  develop our educational hub and professionals in the field should be used in this task not  laymen.

4. Career guidance and Human  resource planning  
 Human resource planning  and development   should  be  contracted  to experts  and  professional economists  to model  economic trends and  demand for  human resources.  A mere collection of statistics and simple surveys  do not help  in the longterm   planning.  In Mauritius, there is a lot of duplication  and wastage  with no proper terms of reference for our institutions and often,  we find  different institutions doing the same things and worst, very badly.  These days  the fashion is the organization of seminars and workshops  by calling some experts  with the support of media and reimbursements from MITD.  Chanting higher productivity with taxpayers money leads to nowhere.

5. Emigration  and Collaboration with  foreign  institutions
Exporting our qualified  human resource  is a good safety  valve and this is possible only if we provide our students with world class education acceptable in  other countries. We must  attract   world recognized established institutions and  collaborate with those who can  deliver the right training  to  qualify our students  for  emigration.  A collaboration with  top universities, research  and training centers  is imperative . Recently, the  efforts  to attract  the Indian institute of technology   ( IIT)  is  a good start. The  circulating migration is a total failure and a short term solution but we must for a sustainable one which can lead to an inflow of remittances. A one stop shop   catering for quality education, training and   contracting  bilateral agreements  with other countries for exporting human capital should be put in place.  

6. Employment  Board and Recruitment
The   best way to  eliminate  institutions is to come up with entry qualifying   examinations   for  all degree holders  for  registration as professionals  and  jobs  in the public and even private sector.  A proper examination  will  signal  the demand for quality.  We can follow the  example of India to come up with competitive examinations in all fields and positions in the government and private sector.  
Another important issue is the entry requirements for jobs. Together  with  increasing access to tertiary education, the government should increase the minimum qualification’s requirement to  jobs in both public and private sector. We cannot  continue to have a minimum of  SC or HSC at clerical levels or for banking jobs for instance.  The minimum should be  undergraduate degree plus competitive examinations. In the education sector, legally  primary  school teachers should  possess  a  degree plus  diploma in education  whilst  educators in secondary,  a master degree  and  additional qualification in teaching.  University levels should impose Ph.Ds  and post doctoral levels with quality research  papers.  All  universities   whether local and foreign ones  should have  permanent qualified staff  and  complete departments. Higher qualifications  should be matched with higher salaries with the expectations that higher productivity would be harnessed.

7. Corporate  sector, Religion  and  Education
We should not allow the corporate sector, religious and sociocultural lobbies to provide education and training as this leads to distortions and misinformation which at times it is difficult to monitor  and impose  controls or sanctions. There are many cases where private sector  is delivering   low  distance education courses  in attractive campuses  extorting  students  with the promise that they will get jobs in the private sector. Another scandal is the latest trend  when religious associations are  entering  the provision of  education  and this is catastrophic for our education hub and human capital.  

8. Equal opportunities
Access to tertiary or any other level of  education is a right for every Mauritian but this should not be done at the cost of quality, tax payers’ money and  pockets of  especially  poor Mauritians. It is an undeniable fact that during the recent decade there has been an increasing   access  to  tertiary education. The demand  for  good  as well as many bad degrees rocketed but not without any costs. Qualifications have inflated for many but no corresponding chances for promotion or even occupational mobility for many. Unemployed   graduates is on the increase  with a collateral damage  of  personal  debt   and moral  harassment.  The costs for the economy  are  the  opportunity cost from investment in  low quality education given their impotency  to  increase productivity and growth.  I  reiterate  that  the quality of education and training till the 1990s were much better as they supported economic growth as compared with the present qualifications.

The  rising costs of  running  traditional universities,   technological changes  and  changes in demand would continue to change the landscape of our education  sector . However, it is imperative to  revisit our strategy  so as to  produce  an army of  qualified  human capital  and  succeed in our endeavour to become an education hub.  Finally, the ball is in the court of policy makers  and  professionals into this promising sector.
*   The views expressed in this article are personal