India would learn from China for educational development, said Dr. B.L. Mungekar, member of the Planning Commission of the India government in charge of educational sector, Tuesday in Beijing.
He said this to Xinhua when asked to comment on Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks at Monday's opening ceremony of the Fifth High Level Group Meeting on Education For All of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In his speech, Wen said to the delegates that in 2004, about 94 percent of Chinese have access to free nine-year compulsory education. Illiteracy rate of adults lowered to four percent and 98.9 percent of girls attended school course.
India shared many things in common with China, said Mungekar. Both are nations of ancient civilization with 80 percent of the total population living in rural areas. India and China gained independence in 1947 and 1949, respectively. China adopted the opening-up policy to establish market-oriented economy in 1978, and India also adopted market-oriented economy in 1991.
Mungekar noted that India and China are facing the same difficulties and problems in educational sector due to similar domestic situation. Yet India should learn the advanced experience from China, as China drew clear strategy for educational development that brought benefit to all other sectors of the nation.
As to India's national strategy for education development, Mungekar said India began to give free and compulsory education in 1950, and a nationwide free and compulsory education system with legal guarantee has been established so far.
He pointed out in a development plan on education (Year 2002 to 2007), the Indian government has decided to put 4.5 percent of GDP to educational cause annually. A yearly investment of US$2.7 billion will be used to offer meal free to children at school, so that to prevent dropout.
Besides, since women accounted for 60 percent of illiterate population in India, the government also has helped Indian women attend economic activities, to enhance self-reliance capacity and social positions.
Mungekar said India has altogether 120,000 registered non-government organizations. Most of them are dedicated to rural development in the aspects of drinking water improvement, infrastructure construction, and primary education promotion.
However, he pointed out that India with a population of 1.03 billion people, is still far from the goal of education for all. In 2001, non-illiteracy people accounted for 67 percent of the total population, and this number is expected to be 100 percent in 2020.
Speaking highly of Wen's promise of increasing aid to developing countries in educational programs, Mungekar confessed that India is not possible to offer direct financial support to other developing countries against its current domestic situation.
He stressed India is now joining with other developing countries to draw more international aid, advocating that developed countries and international organizations should give more financial aid to developing countries by increasing fund and programs, exempting international debt, loosening limit of loan, and giving favorable policies.
(Xinhua News Agency November 30, 2005)