Employability is a challenge and distance education is the only way forward, the minister said in an address at the third National Conference of Vice Chancellors of open universities.
"Employability is one such challenge, which has grappled India. Around eight million students join the workforce but only 10 to 15 lakh get jobs. It is a very concerning thing, as discontent will increase.I am sure distance education is the way forward to solve the problem," he said.
"The focus on research and development is important but importantly there is a need to motivate the youth to choose course that are unconventional and vocational, like being offered as part of distance education programme all over the country," Prasada said.
As per the figures of the ministry of human resource development in 2013, school dropout rate in India is 34.2 percent and the growth in adult literate population since 2002 to 2013 has just been from 57.2 to 62.8 percent.
The minister said that like the India-Africa virtual university at the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) to be launched next year, there would be many such initiatives taken by the government to take advantage of the great resources that India has in terms of education and try to reverse the brain drain. IGNOU vice chancellor M. Aslam also llaid stress on distance education.
"The government needs to revisit the policies on distance education and there should not be further delay in making the distance Education Council an autonomous body," he said.
The vice chancellors from across the country raised concerns that since the option of distance education was been created by an act of parliament, it should be given equal status like regular university courses.