Ahluwalia praises private sector role in education

August 2nd, 2008 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Pune, Aug 2 (IANS) It was a feast of words and wisdom as economists, bureaucrats, educationists and lawyers got together to inaugurate the Symbiosis School of Economics here. Speaking on the occasion Friday, chief guest Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said liberalisation of the Indian industry came after prolonged efforts of industry representatives, and similarly education sector too needs some vocal stakeholders to bring about liberalisation.

Responding to Symbiosis International University chancellor S.B. Majumdar’s remarks about the red-tape in the education sector, Ahluwalia said: “In 1991 (then finance minister) Manmohan Singh gave freedom to Lakshmi (goddess of wealth), I want to ask you when are you going to give freedom to Saraswati (goddess of knowledge).”

At present, only 11 percent of Indians pursue higher education, which Ahluwalia said was not acceptable. The planning commission has set a target of raising this figure to 21 percent in the 11th Five year plan, he said.

“Given our population we need to double the number of colleges, and this is not possible through public sector participation alone. We need a private sector to pitch in,” he said.

He also applauded the private colleges and universities.

“Growth of human resource is the single most equalising factor for consistent growth of the economy. Private colleges deserve applause for their contribution in the education field,” he said.

Ahluwalia expressed concern over the current slowdown in the economic growth. “While we have been consistently for the last four years recording 8.9 percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth rate, this year we might just be able to do 8 percent.”

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