The country's entire education system – both at the level of school education and higher education – is being revamped on a holistic and systematic basis, with changes in the content of education and not just in the processes of education, Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said on Friday.

Delivering the convocation address at the 20th convocation of Pondicherry University, the Minister said, “The revamp is not just the processes of education or not just issues about Class X and XII grades, percentiles or marks. What we need to do is to change the content of education.”

The emerging global knowledge economy necessitated a shift from the earlier paradigm of education system that was linear, passive, hierarchical and non-participatory to one that is “dynamic, vigorous and bold, inclusive and integrated, focussed on cultivating creativity and intellectual skills, aligned to the need of the sub-system of the Indian society and geared to provide vocational/technical/professional education required in the global workplace,” he said.

Noting that education was now considered a national priority, he said this was why the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was brought in.

Gross Enrolment Ratio

Presently, India's Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) was 12.4 per cent and GER came as a main difference between the developing and developed world. “In the developed world, the GER is not less than 40. We are not as developed because our GER is 12.4 per cent,” he asserted.

Emphasising that the GER should be increased, he put forth the need for a critical mass of people to go into the university system, who will become creators of wealth, what he called “intangible assets.”

“The wealth of the nation is not the buildings, palaces and hotels you build but it is the intellectual creativity of the university system. The system should have people who are passionate about knowledge, creativity, culture and roots – passionate about the fact that we are perhaps the richest nation with highest non-tangible wealth in the world,” he reiterated.

Stressing the importance of high quality education, he termed the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012) as virtually being a National Education Plan. “The plan allocation for education has been stepped up from around 7.7 per cent of the government budgetary support in the 10th plan to over 19 per cent in the 11th plan. In nominal terms, there is going to be more than five-fold increase in spending on education,” he said. Mr. Sibal said his vision was that India should become a knowledge power in the coming decade.

Earlier, he presented the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) to Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, CEO of South Asian University G.K. Chadha and lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar.