‘Take up research which will be of use to society’

M.M. Pallam Raju, Union Minister for Human Resources Development, said on Tuesday that it was necessary to increase the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education sector in the country from the present 18.8 per cent to 30 per cent by 2020.

Inaugurating the indoor sports complex of Manipal University — ‘Marena — Mr. Raju said the government had given importance to starting Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs) in the 11th Five Year Plan. The government is committed to maintaining quality, equity and access in the higher education sector, he said.

Urging academic institutions to take up research which would benefit the community, Mr. Raju regretted academic research today was benefiting the multi-national corporations as the MNCs had the Intellectual Patent Rights (IPRs) over the research.

“The country was just spending 1.1 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research and development (R&D). This needs to be increased,” he said.

Though the country has a young population, it is essential to provide good education and skills to them to reap the demographic dividend, Mr. Raju said.

Interaction

Later in an interaction with the students of Manipal University, Mr. Raju said the government was giving priority to implementing the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Most of the schools now have classrooms, toilets and cooking sheds. The enrolment has also gone up, he said.

Nearly 230 million children are in the ambit of formal education in the country and 110 million among them are availing the mid-day meal scheme.

But there is a shortfall of teachers. Although the country needs 20 lakh teachers, there are only 12.5 lakh teachers in schools at present, he said.

Mr. Raju said the government was committed to providing education to the students coming from underprivileged background and was providing subsidised educational loans to them. “In fact we spend Rs. 1,000 crore on paying interest on student loans alone,” he said.

Positive impact

On the Bill to allow foreign educational institutions in India, Mr. Raju said the entry of the foreign educational institutions would have a positive impact on the domestic educational institutions in India. The Bill is presently with the standing committee, he said.

To another question, Mr. Raju said it was essential to encourage humanities along with the technical, science and management subjects. Inter-disciplinary research should be promoted. Some IITs are now offering humanities subjects along with technical subjects. It is necessary to change the mindset, he said.

K. Ramnarayan, Vice-Chancellor of Manipal University, welcomed the gathering. Ranjan Pai, Trustee of Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) Trust, and H.S. Ballal, president of Academy of General Education, were present.