EMPHASISING THE need to reduce the gap in quality of education between “haves and have-nots”, by imparting “universally accepted secular education” and improving infrastructure in government schools, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said the nation must strive to achieve the target of spending 6 per cent of GDP on education through public funding.
Dr Singh was speaking on Education and Development: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities, on the occasion of the 17th annual conference of the Indian Association of Social Sciences Institutions at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID). Dr Manmohan Singh was accompanied by his wife Gursharan Kaur. Addressing the gathering, Dr Singh said, “By imparting universally accepted secular education, individuals can be empowered with human values that enable them to contribute in building a socially and culturally harmonious society. The religious, caste and class divisions can be overcome by an educated society endowed with values based on equality, liberty and fraternity.”
Watch what else is making news
Dr Singh said the current tendency to generate and promote social divisions among the people on the basis of religion, caste and regional lines can be overcome by educating people to acquire values based on Independence struggle and how the idea of India crystallised. Talking about how inequality has increased, Dr Singh said according to socio-economic surveys for rural India, there were 74.5 per cent of households with a monthly income of below Rs 5,000 in 2011.
On the quality of education, the former PM said, “52 per cent of students in the fifth standard are not able to read the text in vernacular languages of the second standard and 74 per cent are not able to do division of simple sums of arithmetic. Consequently, a vast majority of the rural students drop out in sixth standard. Nnearly 24 per cent rural households have no literate adult above 25 years. The dropout rates remain very high for rural students.”
Dr Singh also emphasised the need to increase Gross Enrollment Ratio in higher education from 24.3 per cent in 2014-15. In developed countries, it is around 50 per cent. He said private universities accounted for 34.21 per cent of the total universities (760) in 2014-15. Private colleges account for 77 per cent of the total colleges (38,498) and 63 per cent are unaided. Private colleges both aided and unaided are responsible for 67 per cent of total enrolment in the country.