India has biggest gap in talent, says Singapore deputy PM

India has biggest gap in talent, says Singapore deputy PM

 Singapore deputy prime minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Friday cautioned India that a mere increase in the budget will not fix creaking school education.

Even as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and others listened in rapt attention, Shanmugaratnam, known for transforming school education in the city-state, was critical of the education system that over produces graduates without the required skills in the real world.

He was the first to speak at a lecture series on ‘Transform India’ organised by NITI Aayog, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought ideas from abroad. This is the first time in India that foreign dignitaries have been called to give their inputs on transforming the country.

“India has the biggest gap, I know and I have spent many years in education... talent at the top and the unfulfilled potential of those in the rest of the society. And these things can be fixed. And it is not by way of ever-increasing budgets,” Shanmugaratnam said, highligting Singapore’s examples of how organising, training teachers and bringing about a change in culture has helped schools. “How do we recruit our teachers, how do we train them, how do we hold the teachers accountable, how do we provide for quality across the system and not just at its most exclusive end? How do we ensure that every school is a good school?” he said as senior ministers were seen taking notes.

43% school dropouts

Shanmugaratnam said 43% students drop out before finishing upper primary school. There is a shortage of 7,00,000 primary school teachers, only 53% schools have toilets for girls and only 74% have access to daily drinking water.

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