PM calls for improving higher education

March 15th, 2008 - 11:54 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Varanasi, March 15 (IANS) Expressing concern over the availability and quality of higher education, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday asked colleges and universities to raise their standards. Speaking at the 90th annual convocation of the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) here, the prime minister said: “Only 10 percent of India’s youth go to college as against 40-50 percent in the developed Western countries”.

Referring to the quality of education, he observed: “What is even more serious is that two-thirds of India’s universities are providing sub-standard education while 90 percent colleges are below average”.

It was to improve higher education that the central government had decided to set up 30 new central universities across the country together with six Indian Institutes of Science on the lines of the IISc at Bangalore, he said.

Manmohan Singh was of the view that despite the constraints, India’s advancements in technology could not be underscored. “The Green revolution and IT revolution in the country were the results of the growth in higher education,” he observed.

“However, we still have a long way to go to meet the challenges thrown by the developed western world.

“If any country has to attain an important place in the international community and wants to progress there are three requisites - a strong base of science and technology, a strong defence system and a strong economy,” said Manmohan Singh, a former professor of economics.

Besides being chief guest on the occasion, Manmohan Singh was also honoured with a D.Litt. degree that was conferred on him by BHU chancellor Karan Singh.

The prime minister also emphasised the need for universities to play a larger role in disseminating knowledge to the rural areas. “Universities must realise their responsibility in this regard,” he stressed.

Hailing the state of India’s economy, he said: “It is a matter of pride for us that we have maintained a sustained economic growth of nine percent over the past four years, which was unprecedented in the history of independent India.”

“This type of positive growth in the economy has created new opportunities and challenges for both entrepreneurs and students. It is a big challenge also for our universities and education system to produce well educated and skilled youth.”

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