New Delhi : President Pranab Mukherjee today made a strong pitch for expansion of higher education, stressing that best minds in universities should work on solutions for day to day problems and the countryís developmental challenges.
The President dismissed the notion that expansion will lead to deterioration of quality.
There were over 250 million young people ñ one-fifth of the countryís total population - in the age group of 15-24 years., and the onus was on the higher education system to realize their aspirations and perfect their scholastic potential,íí he said
"I, for one, do not see any dichotomy between greater access and better quality; or between higher equity and superior standards," the President said in his speech after giving away the visitorís award here.
The president was of the view that areas for research activity should align with the developmental challenges of the nation.
The best minds in the universities should apply themselves to work out solutions in areas like sanitation, urban transportation, sewage disposal, clean river systems, healthcare and drought-resistant farming, and they should also convert new knowledge into innovative products that were directly beneficial to the common population, he said.
"Innovative minds should create tools and implements that alleviate the drudgery of farmers, workers, artisans and weavers. The number one barometer for successful outcome of research and innovation should be its beneficial applicability to a wider section of the population, " he said.
The President said the JNU had been adjudged the best university for its unrelenting pursuit of academic excellence, and showing outstanding performance in all key parameters like quality of students and faculty, training of faculty, citations, publications, research projects, foreign collaborations, seminars and innovation exhibitions.
He urged the university to continue the good work.
Many central universities that had been set up in recent years may not be in the reckoning for top honours immediately, but they must start participating in the rankings seriously, he said.
The President recounted various attributes of a world class institution, and noted that a challenge for the institutions had been to retain bright students after education to do research.
ëíTo arrest this trend, we need to make holistic changes in our education system. The pedagogy in our institutions at all levels has to promote creative thinking, novel learning and scientific scrutiny,íí he said.
ëíIf we have a large pool of meritorious researchers ñ complemented by top-notch research laboratories, tie-ups with industry, collaborations with foreign institutions, and an attractive compensation system ñ our institutions could be involved in doing more cutting-edge research,íí the President said.