Monday, July 11, 2011

Demographic dividend can be leveraged only if youth are given education

Drawing attention to the challenges of public funding for higher education, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee advocated the need to design ‘tailor-made' public-private partnership models, albeit with regulatory oversight of the government. Delivering the first convocation address of the Central University of Orissa in Koraput on Sunday, Mr. Mukherjee said the foremost challenge in the higher education sector in India was bringing about equity and quality.

Pointing to the increasing working-age population in the country, he said the demographic dividend in the country's favour for the next three decades can be leveraged only if our youth are given education and relevant skills. He hoped that the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) would help realise the advantages of the demographic dividend.

Appreciating the performance of the Central University at Koraput, which he felt had started contributing to the economic development of the region, Mr. Mukherjee commended its efforts in launching several need-based programmes, particularly for tribal and community development. Globalisation has a very significant impact on India and it was all the more necessary to ensure relevance of higher education in order to attain excellence, he said.

Vice-Chancellor Surabhi Banerjee said the perspective plan of the University was going to define its uniqueness. “It is not going to be yet another university in the multitude of run-of-the-mill academic institutions. It definitely aspires to become a University with a difference, which aims at making a difference in the lives of the people.''

The corpus of a sound, full-bodied and a timeless institution is created only when you prepare the strong cast and frame and instil the flow of quality life into its veins. This was the only way to strengthen the academic stem of the University, she said.

According to Ms. Banerjee, the University was conceived as an avant-garde premier institution of the new millennium, which calls for a world-driven higher education agenda. “It is indeed an uphill task at this point of time to develop an exemplary academic institution with a pan-Indian perspective, which should be optimally wedded to a global vision, because we are now in the process of reinventing and redefining higher education in a globalised context.''

As many as 106 graduating students were awarded their degrees at the convocation. Orissa Governor M.C. Bhandare and Chief Minister Navin Patnaik also addressed the students.

Source: The Hindu, July 11, 2011
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