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Private call for higher education

Cuttack, Dec. 18: Higher education minister Badri Narayan Patra today expressed concern over the low gross enrolment ratio in colleges and universities across the state and called for private investment to revamp the education sector.

“At present, the gross enrolment ratio in institutions of higher education is much below than the national average of 12.4 per cent. As many as 16 districts, including Kandhamal, Ganjam and Rayagada, fare poorly,” said Patra, addressing the open house discussion organised by the Odisha Society of the Americans at Ravenshaw University here.

Patra said investment by private players would go a long way in revamping the higher education system, especially since the demand of number of colleges and universities was expected to grow by 15 per cent across the country by 2015.

“As new colleges and universities come up, it is hoped that more knowledge centres would be created in the state to impart quality education,” the minister said.

Higher education secretary Gagan Kumar Dhal, who also attended the event, said: “The state government has chalked out a vision document, which envisages setting up of education hubs as part of the three tier strategy.”

Dhal said efforts were on to set up world-class colleges in Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Khurda. “We are also planning to introduce the Odisha Learn English Campaign for all teachers and launch a coaching programme for the postgraduates to help them crack the National Eligibility Test as the state is facing a shortage of lecturers,” Dhal said.

“We plan to ensure that students from Odisha seek higher education abroad and ensure active participation between colleges and universities of state and North America for better co-operation and improvement in research related activities,” said president of the society Annapurna Pandey.

Sources said the state government had received applications from 39 private players from various parts of the country to set up colleges and universities in the state.

Official records suggest that there has been an increase in the number of students from the country seeking higher education abroad with 1.19 lakh students going to UK and USA last year as against 53,000 students in 2000.