70% Engineering Deg Education In 4 States: HRD

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New Delhi, Dec 17 (UNI) Engineering education in India suffers from a gaping regional imbalance, which must be minimised, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh stressed today.

In a statement read out in absentia at a national conference on Development of Technical Education in India, Singh also emphasised better technical education quality and delivery.

More than two-thirds engineering degree education is concentrated currently in four States while the rest of India must do with 30 per cent, delegates were told.

The two day event has been sponsored by the All India Council for Technical Education to discuss such issues of greater access, inclusiveness, affordability and quality.

Singh ''could not'' attend, but his remarks were read out by Planning Commission Member B Mungekar from a prepared text.

''There is a wide discrepancy in the capacity between the States with over 70 percent of the capacity in degree level engineering education being available in... Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

''This regional imbalance has to be minimised so that people from all parts of the country have a fairly equal access to quality education,'' Singh said.

''If India is to assume leadership and realise its dream of becoming a Super Power in the near future, we have to ensure that the abundant talent available in the form of human resource is efficiently honed and tapped.'' The Minister referred to steps already taken to raise higher education enrollment to 15 per cent through investment in the 11th Five Year Plan.

''Public-Private Partnership in this regard may also be desirable,'' Singh said, insisting that opportunities of quality technical education must be ''provided to all, equitably.'' He said the government was making all efforts to raise technical education quality to highest international standards.

India ''has been admitted as a provisional member of the Washington Accord, which would enable our technical programmes to be recognised as accredited as per the global standards,'' Singh said.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof Mungekar said knowledge economy was one of several components for achieving 11th Five Year Plan target of 9 per cent growth of the gross domestic Product.

This, he said, could be accomplished by making education affordable to larger population of India and not by bypassing the poor or ignoring the backward regions of the country.

Mungekar renewed government commitment of 19.8 per cent plan allocation for the education sector but called for its thorough restructuring.

He acknowledged that Indian education system suffers from such downsides as ''lack of employability of the graduates, subject imbalance, lack of expansion, lack of faculty development, lack of networking of institutions, lack of regular upgradation of curriculum and lack of faculty exchange programme.'' He suggested letting educational institutions generate surpluses and apex institutions reinvent themselves by galvanising reforms from within. ''We are still suffering from monopolistic mindset. This should be thoroughly discarded.'' Higher Education Secretary R P Agrawal stressed four pillars of technical education-- access, quality, relevance and equity.

Agrawal spoke of research deficit in India and said the Ministry proposed to train 20,000 teachers in summer schools.

He said 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology and 300 polytechnics were being set up.

The event is being attended among others by directors of Indian Institutes of Technology and Management.

UNI

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