India is expected to account for a fourth of the world's total skilled workforce by 2020 and the central government is according top priority to higher education, allocating Rs.275,000 crore (Rs.2.75 trillion) to the sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in Guwahati on Tuesday.
"Our government's effort has been to create the next wave of investment in higher education. And the 11th Five Year Plan which is now under implementation is basically a knowledge investment plan," the prime minister said.
"We have significantly increased allocation to the education sector with a five fold increase to an unprecedented Rs.275,000 crore," he said while addressing faculty and students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Guwahati.
The prime minister said the government was trying to extend quality elementary education to all taking major expansions in secondary and higher educations. The idea was to produce some 500 million trained workforce by 2020.
Approval had already been granted for eight new IITs, seven Indian Institutes of Management, 16 central universities, 14 world class universities, five Indian Institutes of Science, 10 new National Institutes of Technologie, 20 Information Technology Institutes, and 1,000 polytechnics, he added.
"India has the potential to create over 500 million trained people by the year 2020. That would be over a fourth of the global workforce. This big and unique opportunity for India will come from an education revolution that we must undertake as our most important national endeavour."
The prime minister also advocated the need for partnerships between ths state and the private sector to further boost higher education in the country.
"We need to work in close partnership with the corporate sector, non-governmental entities and community organisations. We need to facilitate creative partnerships between the public and private sectors in the field of education including higher education," he said.
The prime minister, who then left for New Delhi ending his two-day visit to Assam, had to cancel his visit to the western Kokrajhar district on Tuesday due to bad weather, officials said.