Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday emphasised the need for skill development and world-class education for the youth.

“To meet the demands of the fast-growing economy, we will have to educate the youth and make them skilled. Without skilled manpower, we will not be able to sustain the high growth rate of the economy for long,” Dr. Singh said laying the foundation for the Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering and Technology (GKCIET) in Malda district of West Bengal.

The UPA government had increased funds for education from 3.3 to 4 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, he said. “We have set up a National Skill Development body, whose target is to impart skills to 5 crore people during the 12th Plan,” Dr. Singh said.

The emphasis in higher education would be on quality. “We want our scientists and engineers to acquire worldwide fame.”

“In higher education, we have set up a large number of new institutes which include 16 Central universities, seven Indian Institutes of Management, eight Indian Institutes of Technology, 10 National Institutes of Technology and five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.”

Dr. Singh expressed the hope that the GKCIET would figure among the best technology institutes in India. “Our government has provided Rs. 26.6 crore to the institute of which Rs. 15 crore has been allotted for the development of the campus during the year,” he said.

The institute is named after the late Congress leader and former Union Minister, A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhury, whom the Prime Minister described as a “popular leader” of the region committed to the development of people.

Being set up on about 100 acres in Malda’s Narayanpur, with a total project cost of Rs. 542 crore, the central institute would offer certificates, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in engineering and technology.

“I firmly believe that the institute will cater to the development of industries and creation of skilled manpower in Malda, West Bengal and north-eastern States,” Dr. Singh said