PM unveils massive education plan

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New Delhi, Aug 15 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said 6,000 new high quality model schools will be opened, with at least one school in each block, as part of a major thrust being given to the development of education in the country.

''As someone who started his professional life as a teacher, I feel proud to say that our Government has been giving special attention to the development of education in our country,'' he said in his address to the nation on the occasion of the 62nd Independence Day.

He said as many as 373 new colleges were being opened in backward districts, besides 30 new universities, eight new IITs, seven new IIMs, 20 new IIITs, five Indian Institutes of Science, two Schools of Planning and Architecture, ten NITs, and 1000 new polytechnics.

''There is a massive increase in public investment in education at all levels,'' Dr Singh said while pointing out that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had been strengthened and the mid-day meal programme expanded up to upper primary level in all districts of the country.

As many as 140 million children were being provided mid-day meals under this scheme.

Describing the Eleventh Five Year Plan as ''National Education Plan,'' he said the government wanted every section of society to get access to education. ''Every child belonging to a family of SC, ST, OBC and all Minorities, every single child, boy or girl, must have access to modern education.'' Listing out the several new scholarship schemes being implemented at the pre-matric and post-matric levels and also for children hailing from SC, ST, OBC and minority families, Dr Singh said special scholarships for meritorious students from such families had also been launched. Scholarships for overseas studies were being given to SC and ST students. National merit-cum-means scholarships for children hailing from economically weaker sections and children with disabilities had also been approved.

He said a Skill Development Corporation would be created by the government with the active participation of the private sector to give special training to young men and women, workers and technicians. A Skill Development Mission had already been put in place under his supervision.

He said the government was sincerely implementing most of the recommendations of the Justice Sachar Committee Report on social, economic and educational empowerment of the Muslim community.

''India will be transformed only when every Indian is literate, well fed, healthy and can secure gainful employment.'' UNI SH PK HS1045

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