Mumbai : The government will make secondary education universal in India with at least one school for every cluster of villages over the next two-three years, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here Friday.
"This programme will build on the success of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (education for all programme) and will cover the entire country in two-three years," the prime minister told an event to mark 150 years of the University of Mumbai.
"These publicly-funded 6,000 schools will establish benchmarks for excellence in public schooling, which would then be role models for the rest of the public educational system."
"We need to revamp the higher education system so that it walks on the two legs of access and excellence," he said.
The prime minister said if India were to convert the latent demand for higher education into a real one, the government must consider ways of improving the financial resources of aspiring students as well.
"We are working on a national system of scholarships and easily available loans so that all needy and deserving students have access to the necessary finances to fund their education. We will realize this goal in the coming year."
Manmohan Singh said India had a long distance to travel in the field of higher education and research to attain world standards and was at an important cusp in the developmental trajectory.
"We are at a point when the dynamics of our population growth can catapult us into a prolonged cycle of rapid economic growth," he said.
"The reality at the moment is that around 10 percent of the relevant age-group is enrolled in any institute of higher education, as compared to 40-50 percent in most developed economies."
He said less than 50 percent of secondary school students continued into college education of any form. Almost two-thirds of universities and 90 percent of the colleges were below average. And the curriculum was not tuned to job needs.