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11th Plan to focus on education

January 03, 2008 15:05 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said that the Eleventh Five Year Plan would focus on education, particularly vocational and science education, with a five-fold increase in the spending on this sector compared to the Tenth Plan.

Inaugurating the 95th Indian Science Congress at Andhra University campus in the port city of Visakhapatnam, Singh reiterated the Government's commitment to investing more, in education, especially science education.

"The Eleventh Five Year Plan is in fact a National Education Plan. The Plan allocation for education has been stepped up from 7.7% of gross budgetary support for the Plan, in the Tenth Plan, to over 19% in the Eleventh Plan. In nominal terms, there is going to be a five-fold increase in spending on education in the Eleventh plan. This is an unprecedented increase in financial support for education in India," he pointed out.

"We are planning to fund 30 new Central Universities, five new Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research, eight new Indian Institutes of Technology, seven new Indian Institutes of Management and 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology," he added.

The Prime Minister said the Central government would launch a Mission on Vocational Education and Skill Development through which 1,600 new Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) and Polytechnics, 10,000 new vocational schools and 50,000 new Skill Development Centres would be opened across the country.

"We will ensure that annually, over 100 lakh students get vocational training - which is a four-time increase from today's level. Detailed plan for implementing these proposals will be spelt out in the next six months," he explained. 

To enlarge the pool of scientific manpower and foster research in the sciences, a new programme entitled "Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research" (INSPIRE), is being launched. Under this programme, over the next five years, 10 lakh school students will be given science innovation scholarships of Rs 5,000 each. The Plan will also support Scholarships for Higher Education (SHE), providing 10,000 scholarships of Rs One lakh (Rs 100,000 million) per year, to attract talented students to enroll in B.Sc. and M.Sc. courses.

"Our strategy for the promotion of science education in the Eleventh Plan will aim at expanding and strengthening the Science & Technology base in our Universities and promoting excellence through competitively secured funding at centers for advanced research. In addition, discipline-specific education programmes will be launched in strategic sectors like nuclear sciences and space sciences to capture talent at the "plus-two" stage itself," he added.

The Prime Minister said this would mark a quantum leap in the infrastructure available for good quality teaching and research. He reiterated the Central Government's commitment to increase the annual expenditure on science and technology from less than 1% of the GDP to 2% of GDP in the next five years. 

"We must make science a preferred discipline of study for our students. We must attract the best and the brightest young people to a career in science. We need both a qualitative improvement and a quantitative expansion in the pool of science students in India. This means we will also need more teachers. We will need an army of teachers, especially in the basic sciences and in the field of mathematics. Shortage of good teachers is an immediate challenge," he told the delegates attending the five-day Science Congress.

He urged the academic community to come forward with innovative ideas to help overcome and meet this challenge effectively. "Tried and tested methods will not suffice. We need fresh creative thinking. Out-of-the-box solutions. The academic community too must be willing to think creatively," he observed.

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad