Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday advocated reasonable fee hikes in higher education coupled with generous scholarships and loans to ensure that money did not come in the way students pursuing higher education.
Singh, who spelt out tight deadlines for the government at the end of the meeting, also called for raising the level of private initiative in the sector. Montek S Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the commission, later acknowledged that there was a feeling at the meeting that if India had to raise the gross enrolment ratio from 11 per cent to 15 per cent by 2011-02 and 21 per cent by 2020, around half the incremental enrolment would have to come from private institutions.
Singh’s advice came at a full meeting of the Planning Commission that drew up a broad blueprint of the action needed over the next five years to raise enrollment ratios in secondary and higher education. 'We need to work with a sense of urgency and work to fixed timelines if we have to see action on the ground,” Singh said in his final remarks and spelt out an time-table for the government to stick to. “Otherwise,” he warned, “we will continue with a theoretical exercise within these four walls for some more years.” <b1>
The commission had earlier heard former RBI Governor C Rangarajan talking about communist China that had successfully used the combination of free ships, loans and higher fees to expand coverage.
This is an issue that is expected to figure prominently when Human Resource Development minister Arjun Singh interacts with vice chancellors of universities shortly. The Planning Commission had proposed central funding for education in the eleventh plan at almost Rs 2.5 lakh crore in constant prices, a four-fold increase over the previous plan