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President for overhaul of education system
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
The President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, today strongly advocated a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s education system and an increase in the expenditure on education to 6-7 per cent of the GDP to turn India into a “prosperous, happy and strong nation.”

Addressing the nation on the eve of the 58th Independence Day, the President pleaded for a thorough restructuring of the education system — covering admissions, syllabi, examination and evaluation.

In concrete terms, he went on to suggest introduction of “open book system of examinations,” a common all-India examination for entry into universities and professional colleges and evaluation of papers by examining bodies with ISO certification.

The President caught the bull by the horn when he observed that an estimated 36 million people (9 per cent of 400 million employable people) are unemployed. He made concrete suggestions saying “we can definitely find productive employment for all the 36 million people by launching certain missions like bio-diesel generation through plants such as Jatropha, dry land and herbal farming in the available 33 million hectares of waste land earmarked for cultivation”.

“Secondly, the banking system should provide venture capital right from village level to prospective entrepreneurs for undertaking new enterprises.

Banks have to be pro-active in supporting innovative products for enabling wealth generation by young entrepreneurs by setting aside the ‘conventional tangible asset syndrome’”, he said.

He also recommended an economic pull for generation of marketable products and enhancement of purchasing power among the people. “This can come through the implementation of mega programmes such as rural connectivity, regional linking of rivers, infrastructural missions, power missions and tourism”.

Dwelling on education, Dr Kalam said expenditure on this vital issue should be raised to 6-7 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), from the present 4 per cent, to achieve nearly 100 per cent literacy.

This could be achieved by involving all the Ministries and Departments as partners in human resource development and taking help from the corporate sector.

To augment government resources, he appealed to the entire corporate sector to emulate the example set by some corporate leaders who have focused on education to make a national difference.

Devoting six pages of his eight-page address to education, the President also suggested restructuring of syllabi with the thrust on entrepreneurship to deal with unemployment and standardisation of education to raise standard in rural areas.

Mooting a three-pronged strategy to make education more attractive and simultaneously create more employment potential, he said: “The education system should highlight the importance of entrepreneurship and prepare students right from college education to get oriented towards setting up of enterprises.”

Dr Kalam pointed out that sustaining high 8 per cent growth and containing inflation, now at 7.61 per cent, are the major challenges for the country.

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