Kapil Sibal, the HRD minister, spoke at IISc yesterday on the occasion of Sir Vithal N Chandavarkar Memorial Lecture. He spoke on empowerment through education. He talked about the enrollment ratios. The growth enrollment ratio, defined as the number of students who attend university to the number of students who attend school, is presently 12.4 per cent of 220 million and this should touch 30 per cent. Many developed countries have around 50 per cent. Similarly, the higher graduate enrollment ratio, defined as the number of students who do doctorate to the number of students who are graduates, is currently only 1% in India, as opposed to 10% in developed countries. He did not make the latter point in his talk.
He spoke on the connection of education to GDP, lack of more than a million elementary school teachers, the foreign university bill and various other reforms including the education finance corporation indicating that priority lending rate should be given to investors in education. He also mentioned that the education sector would witness investments to the tune of billions of dollars in the next two decades and become the fastest growing sector in the country. My colleague, Abi, asked him about the role of philanthropists in education and he mentioned that a few philanthropists indeed can make a huge difference in the education sector and gave the example of Azim Premji of Wipro.
Overall, it was a good talk and his two quotes "We believe education is as, if not more, important than infrastructure." "The government wants to be far removed from the processes of education but not from the objectives of education." stood out.