Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal on Saturday expressed concern over the poor enrolment from schools to colleges in India, and observed that the national average was "just above" that in the sub-Sahara African countries.
"The gross enrolment ratio - that is admission of students from high school to college - in the US is 50 to 70 students per 100 whereas in the Scandinavian countries it is above 70 per cent," said Sibal in Chandigarh on Saturday.
"The global average is 23 to 27 per 100 students. However, in India it is mere 12.4 per 100, which is just above the sub-Sahara African countries where it is 6.8 per 100 students," he added.
"These figures clearly tell you where we stand in the education sector. The biggest challenge before us is that we are a young nation and we have to effectively absorb our young talent in schools and colleges," Sibal said.
Sibal was in Chandigarh on Saturday evening to inaugurate a new block of the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET) in the Panjab University campus.
Sibal said that in India 220 million (22 crore) students go to school, that is two-thirds of the American population.
"As per figures, only 12.4 per cent of these enrol in colleges. Then if such a huge number of students do not go to college, they can become an internal threat for the stability of country's democracy," Sibal added.
Talking about future plans, he added: "I have a vision to make India a foremost country in the field of education by 2050. By 2020, we will increase this 12.4 figure to 30 per cent by motivating kids to go to schools under the Right to Education Act, by introducing public-private partnership in education sector and by establishing schools in the neighbourhood of children."
"We can also go up to 35 per cent. And if we achieve this target, then no country can match the intellectual wealth of India," Sibal said.