Special Correspondent

SIVAGANGA: Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has called upon the people to send their children for higher studies, including professional courses.

Speaking at a convocation ceremony held in a college at Ilayangudi near here on Sunday, he said most of the students who appeared for higher secondary examinations did not pursue higher studies. This percentage was very low in the country when compared to a few developed countries. Being literate was not enough. All students should go beyond high secondary school level to reap the benefit of education.

Stating that States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu were doing well in the education front, Mr. Chidambaram said a few north Indian states were lagging behind. To improve the infrastructure in primary schools, the Government had been attaching importance to Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), the allotment for which in 2004 was just Rs.8, 000 crore. It had been increased to Rs. 35,000 crore in the current year. Banks had been directed to provide education loans to all eligible candidates. More than 12 lakh students availed loans till last fiscal. No other country in the world had given education loans to this many students.