Higher education in 15 states below national average

March 19th, 2008 - 3:24 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Only nine percent of Indians enrol in higher education. Almost half the states and union territories are even below this poor average. According to a report of the Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE) released recently, 15 states and union territories (out of 35) have reported an enrolment rate lower than the national average.

The report has pointed to glaring regional disparities in enrolment.

“The enrolment ratio in higher education is as high as 29 percent in Chandigarh - a union territory - but less than five percent in states like Jammu & Kashmir and Nagaland,” the report said.

But University Grants Commission Chairman Sukhdeo Thorat does not agree with the argument of regional disparity. He believes the discrepancy lies in a rural-urban divide. “Urban areas record 27 percent enrolment in higher education - rural areas 7-8 percent,” he said.

Among the states with low enrolment ratios are Orissa (8.71 percent), Uttar Pradesh (7.03 percent), Madhya Pradesh (7.77 percent) and West Bengal (8.21 percent).

A report released by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) confirms the regional disparities in both higher and primary education. It shows how southern states have outperformed northern and eastern regions in respect of economic growth and literacy.

In order to remove disparities in higher education, the central government earlier identified 370 districts - as educationally backward - having enrolment ratios lower than the national average of 9 percent.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last year announced one college for each of these 370 districts. They are expected to start functioning by 2012.

The secretary, Higher Education, R.P. Aggarwal had told CABE members recently that the states will have to bring the required finances for taking care of these institutions, once they come up.

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