India needs rapid expansion in higher education: Panagariya

India needs rapid expansion in higher education: PanagariyaNew Delhi: Calling for transformation in tune with the changing times, NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya on Tuesday said India needs rapid expansion of its higher education system.

“I think challenges in the Indian education system are very much there. The country needs transformation in this field,” Panagariya said while addressing the 11th Ficci Higher Education Summit 2015.

“Just as we need transformation in different areas such as urbanisation, industralisation… In many countries a lot of transformation has happened in education.”

Panagariya is of the view that school education and higher education need to grow together to help India face various challenges.

He made out a case for rapid expansion in higher education both in private and public sectors.

“A lot of the criticism in recent times are along the lines that we overemphasise on higher education and ignore elementary one… And that was a big mistake. Personally, I don’t really subscribe to that view… The Constitution very specifically recognised it,” he said.

While taking note of advancement in information technology (IT) because of rapid expansion in engineering education, Panagariya made it a point to highlight the “very restrictive” nature of medical education in the country.

Citing the example of his own state Rajasthan, Panagariya said there were five medical colleges way back in 1995 and the situation remains so even now.

Listing other impediments, Panagariya said there is distinct lack of interest among professionals towards teaching profession and the salary levels are not comparable either.

“We also need to do something about the salaries paid to professors. Often, the best faculty and students walk out to work for the private sector,” he added.

He made it clear that NITI Aayog is considerate to the demands of the education sector.

“At NITI Aayog, we are very much sensitive to that. The Prime Minister has himself focussed on cooperative federalism. This is where Ficci can help NITI Aayog,” he added.

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