As Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks off BJP’s electoral campaign in Assam on January 19, he will, in an unprecedented exercise, also address students of centrally-funded educational institutes — nine NITs, nine central universities, two IIITs and one IIT and IIM each — across the eight northeastern states through the National Knowledge Network.
Modi will be in Guwahati next week to address a youth rally and lay the foundation stone of the new building of IIIT in the state. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi is expected to share the stage with him for the latter. Assam goes to polls in about four months.
Although the PM has interacted with school students twice on the occasion of Teachers’ Day in 2014 and 2015, this will be his first engagement exclusively with youngsters pursuing higher education in the Northeast, confirmed a source at the HRD Ministry.
Ahead of this event, the PM met HRD officials on Wednesday to take stock of the Centre’s educational initiatives — old and new — meant for students of the northeastern region.
On January 19, he would address students of IIT-Guwahati at the institute’s football stadium for nearly an hour. Sources said roughly 20,000 students across all centrally-funded institutions of the remaining Northeast states will be able hear and see this address live on TV (Doordarshan) and the internet (National Knowledge Network).
“There is a difference between the Gross Enrolment Ratio of some of the eight (northeast) states and the national average. This (PM’s address) will give us an opportunity to look at the educational advancement of this region as a whole. More youngsters there should be encouraged to pursue higher education,” said an official.
The GER for higher education in Assam, for instance, is pegged at 17 per cent against the national average of 23 per cent. The GER for Nagaland and Tripura is about 16 per cent. However, not all northeastern states fare poorly. In Manipur, the GER is 38 per cent.