Stating that over 70 per cent of Indians will be of working age in 2025, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday that the young demography of the country should be seen as an asset that requires a solid foundation to grow into their future roles.
"For this, increasing the availability of accessible and affordable higher education and providing training in vocational skills is a key requirement," Mukherjee said at the convocation of the Lalit Narayan Mithila University in Darbhanga. Lauding the university's "Vision 2011" initiative, the President said that he was struck by its pragmatic choice of priorities.
He praised the institution for its goal to establish a women's institute of technology imparting teaching in bio-technology and information technology, to promote export of Makhana, to promote the teaching of Mithila art and craft, establish an institution of disaster management, to upgrade distance education, establish an institute of rural technology and an institute of forensic science.
"I was glad to note that the university plans to build on regional specializations, provide students with the kind of knowledge and learning that would provide them a variety of opportunities," he added.
Mukherjee said the government has been providing special grants to recognise excellence in universities and academic institutions.
A National Skill Development Council has been established and has been given a mandate to create 15 crore skilled workers by 2022, he said, adding that a National Innovation Council has also been set up to prepare a roadmap for innovations in India. He also highlighted the fact of a National Knowledge Network (NKN) linking 1500 institutes of higher learning and research through an optical fibre backbone.
"The Government of India, in its approach to the 12th Five Year Plan, will continue with a three-fold strategy of expansion, equity and excellence for higher education. It has identified revitalisation of state universities and collegesas a critical component of the plan," Mukherjee said.
"Academic reforms will be prioritized and strengthening of research activity in universities by establishing mutually-reinforcing linkages between teaching and research will be undertaken," he added.
Technology-enabled learning, and collaborative, information and communication technologies (ICT) will be an area of focus.
To improve the quality of education and learning, Mukherjee said that the government is proposing pilot projects of innovation universities, giving them considerable autonomy and freedom and supplementing these with the creation of Centres of Excellence in existing universities.
He added that resource constraints will make it difficult to meet the need of expanding higher education entirely through the public sector, and said that private investments in higher education, including through PPP- models, will be encouraged.
"Today, a real need for each and every student passing through the portals of this prestigious institution to remind himself, as he receives his degree, of the high expectations that society has of him and his generation. Each one of you should have a deep sense of purpose and commitment to make your individual contribution to the building of your state and our nation," the President said. (ANI)