PPP needed to enhance education levels: Industry lobby

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) said such partnerships will help the government in meeting its obligation under the Right to Education Act which provides for free and compulsory education for children between six and 14 years of age.

“There could be contractual arrangements where private players perform a part of government's service delivery functions while assuming investment risks involved,” said Assocham general secretary D.S. Rawat.

Citing huge dearth of education infrastructure in India, Rawat said the private sector will have to step in so that quality education and vocational skills can be imparted to students.

According to Assocham, over 16 percent of villages in the country do not have primary schools. In addition, there are 57 lakh sanctioned teaching posts in the government sector of which about seven lakh are vacant.

“Similarly, more than one-third of faculty seats are vacant at premier central universities and other institutions of similar stature,” said Rawat.

To meet the Millennium Development Goal of providing elementary education to all children by 2015, India will need more than 20 lakh new teachers, he added.

Further, the chamber said that only 16 percent of children currently enroll in primary schools and there are 40 million children who enter high school every year despite a 56-percent dropout rate.

According to industry estimates, the country will need 500 million skilled people and 250 million graduates to sustain double-digit growth, said Assocham.

“PPP can emerge as a viable alternative towards improving the access to quality education while ensuring fairness and social justice. This will certainly augment education system in the long run,” said Rawat.

While the literacy rate of the country reported a sharp increase from 18.39 percent in 1950-51 to 65.38 percent in 2000-2001, one-third of the population or 300 million children aged seven years and above are still illiterate.

“About 42 million children in the age group of 6 to 14 years do not attend school at all,” added Rawat.

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