India’s President Calls for Education Improvements


Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has asked educational institutions in the country to update infrastructures, improve the quality of their teachers as well as the learning capacity of students.

"I suggest that education infrastructure should be upgraded, improve the quality of teachers and learning capacity of students," Mukherjee said delivering the convocation address at the University of Calcutta.

Mukherjee has said that doing so must be the top priority for institutions and there needs to be an exchange of ideas. He said he finds it ironic that the country's universities, which have the capabilities to produce world-class scholars, are losing students to foreign institutions.

"India boasts of the largest population of young people in the world. This demographic dividend can be reaped only through education," the President said.

India is home to the largest secondary education system in the world. Despite this, the gross enrollment ratio at the secondary education level is only 53 in India, in comparison to 96 in the US, 94 in South Africa and 89 in Mexico and Russia.

Mukherjee would like to see the country's system be improved and become affordable for students of all backgrounds. Too many students are leaving, and none of the country's universities are ranked in the top 200 by reputable international surveys.

According to official data, India's private sector is currently engaged in areas such as health, transport and financial services. Private institutions in the country account for 60% of the total enrollment at the post-secondary educational level.

Additional measures are therefore needed in order to allow for better service, delivery, benchmarks and excellence.

He would like to see students trained in the skills needed for life in the country's large workforce, which accounts for two-thirds of the population.

"There is also need to create a large pool of good quality and committed teachers who can be entrusted the responsibility of shaping the next generation," a press communique from the Rashtrapati Bhavan said.

He also shared his concerns with the "brain drain" trend, saying there is a growing need for "introspection as to how we can bring our centres of higher learning back into the fold of leading institutions in the world".

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 150th anniversary celebration of Metropolitan Institution, Mukherjee said the nation's progress is dependent on the drive, motivation, initiative and energy of the country's youth.

"The world is on the move and India is also on the move. In this era of information and communication technology, teaching and learning processes are changing (too)," Mukherjee said, adding "endowed with good education and good values, the students and youth will contribute meaningfully in shaping their tomorrow."

12 4, 2014
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