Educational Institutions must earmark certain percentage of seats for poorer sections and subsidize their education: Vice President

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New Delhi: The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu today exhorted universities and higher educational institutions in the private sector to earmark certain percentage of seats for the poorer sections and subsidize their education.

Delivering the 9th Convocational Address of the Lovely Professional University at Phagwara, Punjab, he said unfortunately quality private sector education has become out of bounds for the poor and marginalized sections. “Why should not private universities earmark certain percentage of seats for students belonging to poorer sections and subsidize their education”, he asked.

The Vice President pointed out that public sector alone cannot provide quality higher education for all and the private sector must pitch in. He said that industries and the private sector in general should supplement the efforts of the government in making quality education available to all. “Our challenge is to ensure the spread of knowledge to every section and every corner of our country”, he added.

Calling for a complete overhaul of our education system, the Vice President said that majority of our colleges have become mere breading centres for producing students with degree certificates rather than individuals with critical analytical skills. He expressed concern that students passing out of colleges were lacking the employable skills.

Quoting poor performance of Indian higher educational institutes, the Vice President stressed the need to improve the standards by leaps and bounds to make them globally competitive. He called for increasing the number of institutions and universities to meet the growing demand of students seeking higher education and to realize India’s target of a gross enrolment ratio of 30% by 2020.

The Vice President said that educational institutions must kindle the entrepreneurial spirit among the students. Our educational institutions must not only prepare students for life long careers but also as good and responsible citizens of the society, he said adding that students must become job creators rather than job seekers.

Lauding the farmers of Punjab for turning the state into rice bowl of India, the Vice President called for making agriculture sustainable through innovative methods. He suggested students studying agriculture must spend time with farmers to have a firsthand understanding of the problems faced by farmers. India must become self sufficient food security to battle the challenges such as hidden hunger, malnutrition, he added.

The Minister for Industry and Commerce, Punjab, Shri Sunder Sham Arora, the Chancellor of Lovely Professional University, Shri Ashok Mittal, the Pro-Chancellor, LPU, Smt. Rashmi Mittal and students of the university were in attendance at the venue.

Following is the text of Vice President’s address:

“I am very happy to be in Punjab – the Golden State of India– endowed with nature and with people of indomitable spirit, exemplary valor and zest for life.

I would also like to applaud the entrepreneurial and hard working nature of the people of Punjab. This region is renowned for the export of sports goods, hand tools and leather goods. It is the largest NRI belt of North India and a fast emerging hub of education in the state.

Of course, I am also quite happy to be in this beautiful and imposing campus of Lovely Professional University to participate in its 8th Convocation. It is my pleasure to be amongst some of the brightest young minds, who, with dreams in their eyes, are raring to carve out a bright future for themselves and play an important role in building a New India.

I heartily congratulate those who have excelled in the pursuit of academic, cultural and sports activities and all the graduating students for their accomplishments.

Also, I would like to congratulate LPU, a young university with enthusiasm and innovative spirit for its commitment to provide quality education and prepare students to face the challenges of the global society in the 21st century.

Education is the main instrument for socio-economic transformation of the nation and lays the foundation for building a knowledge society. “Education is an investment, an educated individual will indeed serve the society”, said Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya.

However, it is important for education to produce holistic individuals, who are committed to strong ethical and moral values. “Education which does not mould character is absolutely worthless”, remarked the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

Education means the process by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, and intellect is sharpened, as a result of which one can stand on one’s own feet. True education equips the youth to contribute to the material progress of the country as well as to maintain India’s cultural and spiritual heritage.

Dear sisters and brothers,

majority of our colleges have become mere breeding centres for producing students with degree certificates rather than individuals with critical analytical skills and innovative thinking. And most of the time, the students passing out of colleges do not possess employable skills.

It is a matter of concern that we are turning out lakhs of students each year from the portals of our colleges with emphasis only on theoretical knowledge. We are merely adding numbers and not individuals with critical minds.

Of course, there are islands of excellence like the IITs, IIMs and the IISc. But that’s not enough if India has to emerge as a knowledge hub and a major economic power in the coming years.

There is a need to completely overhaul our education system. We cannot allow the status quo to continue. We need to change the system and the change has to be for good.

In the 2019 Times Higher Education’s global rankings, no Indian University has figured in the top 200 institutions, while IISc is ranked 251 and IIT Indore figures at 351. Other Indian Institutions are ranked between 401 and 1001. These rankings underscore the need for higher education institutions to improve the standards by leaps and bounds to make them globally competitive.

Dear students!

India is a young nation with 65 per cent of the population under the age of 35 years. We are placed in a uniquely advantageous position as compared to many other nations which have ageing populations.

The time has come for universities to forge organic links with industries and impart skills to the students in accordance with the requirements of the industry. Although, some universities are acting in this direction, it is not enough and there is a need for paradigm shift in teaching and learning methodologies of our universities to enable the students face global competition effectively and with confidence.

The Indian education system faces many challenges. There is a need to increase the number of institutions and universities to meet the growing demand of students seeking higher education and to realize India’s target of a gross enrolment ratio of 30% by 2020.

This would translate into an additional 10 million students, of which private universities and institutions are expected to provide education to about six million students.

But simply an increase in numbers without ensuring quality would be detrimental to national interests. We need to restore India’s ancient glory as a prime destination of quality higher education. India was once known as ‘Vishwaguru’ and ours universities were international centers of excellence.

For the country to recapture the past glory, the private sector too will have to play a vital role in meeting the demands of higher education. This can be done by building trust amongst all stakeholders and by commitment to quality education and research. At the same time, the private sector must find ways to cross subsidise the education for the poor and the needy.

Unfortunately, quality private sector education has become out of bounds for the poor and marginalized sections. Why should not private universities earmark certain percentage of seats for the students belonging to poorer sections and subsidise their education?

Our challenge is to ensure the spread of knowledge to every section and every corner of our country.

In the words of Sri Aurobindo, India is blessed with a rich inheritance of the past but the potentialities of the future can be realised only if we bring about a reform in the prevalent system of education by revolutionising the whole aim and method of our education.

Curricular reforms through regular revision, development of new teaching methodologies, extensive use of information and communication technology and improvements in the examination and evaluation system are taking place in the country. These reforms are basically aimed at introducing openness and excellence in our higher education system.

Of course, a great deal of responsibility, in this context, rests upon those who manage education. The regulatory mechanism should facilitate educational institutions to improve quality and ensure minimum standards for excellence in higher education. To take Indian education to the next level, the regulatory bodies need to be open to new ideas and systems.

As mentioned earlier, we are a nation that is becoming younger both in age and spirit; this is an opportunity as well as a challenge. There is a need to channelize the energies and the unlimited potential of our youth and to make India one of the most prosperous countries in the world.

Our youth need to imbibe all the qualities required to excel in their chosen fields. They need opportunities and those avenues have to be created by imparting the right kind of education, training and skills so that they do not only become job seekers but also job creators.

The educational institutions must kindle the entrepreneurial spirit among the students. Our educational institutions must not only prepare students for life long careers but also as good and responsible citizens of the society.

I am pleased to learn that LPU focuses on the overall development of character of its students by laying equal emphasis on sports, cultural activities, self- discipline, values, ethics, developing teamwork and leadership qualities.

Some other challenges that need to be addressed include shortage of quality teachers and lack of research competencies among the faculty.

I am told that a host of short duration skill development programmes have been specifically designed to empower the rural youth to improve their employability. LPU’s collaborations with the schools on the one end and the industry and global institutions on the other, clearly demonstrate its holistic and futuristic approach to educating the future generations of this country.

I am happy to know that your students have worked on various live projects such as designing a remotely controlled driverless car and organic farming and are also actively involved in numerous community development projects.

I congratulate the Chancellor, faculty members and the staff of LPU for taking forward the cause of providing quality education to the masses and thereby contributing to nation-building.

I am happy to learn that the university has now decided to focus on research and has launched many initiatives to promote it. Research in key areas such as agriculture, nanotechnology, energy and water is the need of the hour. The focus should be to encourage applied research which would solve society’s problems. I wish you success in all your present and future endeavors.

Dear graduating students, today is an occasion to remember fondly for the rest of your lives. Strive to become independent thinkers and use your knowledge and competencies for the betterment of society for building a strong, modern and prosperous India.

Let us dream big and work hard

Let us respect freedom, equality and peace

Let us keep learning and sharing

Let us seize the future!

Let us be proud of our nation and bring pride to our nation.

Thank you!

Jai Hind!”

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