Education in Kolkata has an illustrious tradition that is inherent in the city’s history ever since the advent of British imperialism in India. Academic luminaries, poets, painters, educationalists, filmmakers, and writers from this eastern metropolis have historically glorified the name of Kolkata nationally, and at international platforms. Kolkata has been a seat of modern education, art, and culture in India since the British era.Â The glory that Kolkata achieved in diversified educational fields is not a sudden or abrupt development. It was something that was already there from the beginning.
The Present State of the Higher Education Infrastructure in Kolkata
The existing education system in Kolkata presents a parallel system. Schools in the city are either run by the state government or by the private educational institutions. Usually, the government schools are under the West Bengal Board of Higher Secondary Education (WBHSE) and those run by private concerns are affiliated to either CBSE or ICSE.
At present, there are 20 public universities and autonomous institutions in the city offering education in various disciplines. This includes government universities such as Calcutta University, Presidency, University, Jadavpur University, Rabindra Bharati University, and the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, to name a few, as well as private universities such as Amity University, Techno India, and JIS. There are numerous colleges in Kolkata and the city’s suburbs affiliated with these universities. The universities provide postgraduate education in mainstream educational streams like arts, commerce, and science as well as in various professional courses.
Apart from these universities, Kolkata also has some of the best engineering and medical colleges in the country. Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU), Calcutta Medical College, S.S.K.M Medical College, R.G. Kar Medical College, and N.R.S Medical College are all rated as premium educational institutions not only in India but across the globe. The West Bengal University of Technology, National University of Juridical Sciences, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, and West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences are some other institutions in the city that offer a world-class education.
However, the glorious history of the city in the academics field has taken a hit in the recent times. Job placements and absolute ignorance about the emerging trends are two major issues that continue to be a persistent problem.
Barsha Sengupta had taken a loan for education to pursue a career as a mechanical engineer. But despite being a graduate in mechanical engineering she is yet to find a suitable job. Her batchmate Pravin Kumar is also in the same sticky situation. The duo spent around Rs.6 lakh for the course but couldn’t rope in a job yet. Both agreed that Kolkata is their first preference but they are ready to relocate if the prospect is lucrative elsewhere.
Big private enterprises such as Larsen and Toubro, Ashok Leyland, Bajaj, and the Aditya Birla Group that have a requirement for mechanical engineers don’t have their engineering units in Bengal and are mostly headquartered in other states. There are practically no jobs in the engineering sector, which is driving the fresh graduates out of the state.
Kolkata, which was once a symbol of progressive thinking and modern education, is strangely showing a lack of interest in the emerging trends. For example, there’s a field called cognitive science, a mixture of computer modeling, mathematics, and psychology. The course is relatively new in India but it is available in Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, and Allahabad. Calcutta University, which was a pioneer in studies related to psychology, doesn’t offer it.
The entire education structure in the state is not up-to-date. The diversity of education, a trademark of Kolkata, is evidently missing. There aren’t enough options for students wanting to get out-of-the-box by making a career out of journalism, film studies, tourism, and event management.
The scope of higher education in Kolkata is shrinking day by day.Â There aren’t adequate opportunities for masters, and the subject combinations are extremely limited, she says. Another problem is the absence of productive interaction between students and teachers. It happens in colleges and universities outside the state, but not here in Kolkata.
The Future Seems Hopeful
The West Bengal state government is setting up a monitoring team to oversee the quality of education in private institutions. The state minister for education in a press conference said that the government is stressing on strengthening the education infrastructure. Continuous â€śup gradation of infrastructureâ€ť and making courses â€śjob-orientedâ€ť are the primary focus of the Bengal government.
If the government’s initiatives go as planned, higher education infrastructure in Kolkata could be at par with some of the best in the country â€” at least, thatâ€™s a hope we can live with until it turns into a reality.