The 12 Plan seeks to place the highest priority on education as a central instruments for achieving rapid and inclusive growth, E. Ahamed, Minister of State for HRD and External Affairs, said on Friday.
Inaugurating a national symposium on “2011 Demographic Characteristics: A Road to Development” hosted by the Department of Economics, Loyola College, Mr. Ahamed said the Plan would present a comprehensive strategy covering all segments of the education pyramid.
During a brief interaction later with the media, the Minister said the allocation for education in the 12 Plan was likely to be about seven times more than the amount earmarked in the 11 Plan. He also hoped that the redrafted Foreign Educational Institutions (Regulation of Entry and Operation), Bill would be introduced in the upcoming Budget session of Parliament.
In his address to students, Mr. Ahamed said the Centre had adopted a neo-liberal approach to expansion of education in recent years. On the higher education front, the Centre had been following a multi-pronged strategy —strengthening existing institutions of higher learning along with a massive plan of setting up a large number of public funded institutions —with the aim of doubling the access ratio to higher education.
Other initiatives included creating national level resource institutions such as the National Commission for Higher Education, National Authority for Regulation in Accreditation of Higher Education Institutions and Educational Tribunals, he said. He hoped that the strategy would pay off in terms of enabling India to leverage its demographic dividend.
In his view, making an asset out of the exploding population for fostering economic growth and development was possible only through a joint effort by politicians, administrators, educational institutions and employers.
At present, India with 1.2 billion people was next only to China as the most populous nation. The demographic changes were opening up new economic opportunities for India. With 50 per cent of the population below 25 years of age, engaging the working age population in productive employment would accelerate economic growth, Mr. Ahamed said.
In his key-note address, S. Irudaya Rajan, Professor, Research Unit on International Migration, Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, said the surplus labour available in India in the form of its educated youth could be a demographic dividend if managed well through literacy, education and productive employment; or else it could be a demographic bomb.
He also pointed to demographic imbalances within India where declining population growth in the south and galloping growth rates in the north was rendering the age pyramid unattractive.
Mr. Irudaya Rajan said it was important for India, which had an estimated 400 million people on the move for work, to promulgate an Emigration Bill to protect future potential emigrants and a migration policy to facilitate safe, orderly and legal migration.
Rev. Fr. B. Jeyaraj, Loyola College Principal, Rev. Fr. K. Amal, Rector, C. Joe Arun, secretary and T. Eugene, Head, Department of Economics, also participated.