US in fight for future with India, China: Obama

US leader disagrees with economic plan that would cut education by 20 percent.

Last Updated: Oct 06, 2010, 13:02 PM IST

Washington: Weeks ahead of his trip to India, US President Barack Obama has said America is in fight for future with countries like India and China who are spending massively on education, while his country has been cutting its budget on the sector.

"Think about it. China isn`t slashing education by 20 percent right now. India is not slashing education by 20 percent. We are in a fight for the future - a fight that depends on education," Obama said in his remarks at a White House Summit on Community Colleges.

"Cutting aid for 8 million students, or scaling back our commitment to community colleges, that`s like unilaterally disarming our troops right as they head to the frontlines," he said.

Obama said he strongly disagrees with the economic plan that was released last week by the Republican leaders in Congress, which would actually cut education by 20 percent.

"It would reduce or eliminate financial aid for 8 million college students. And it would leave community colleges without the resources they need to meet the goals we`ve talked about today," he argued.

"Instead, this money would help pay for a USD 700 billion tax cut that only 2 percent of the wealthiest Americans would ever see - an average of USD 100,000 for every millionaire and billionaire in the country. And that just doesn`t make sense - not for students, not for our economy," he observed.

"We can`t accept less investment in our young people if our country is going to move forward. It would mean giving up on the promise of so many people who might not be able to pursue an education, like the millions of students at community colleges across this country," Obama said.

The US President announced that the Gates Foundation is starting a new five-year initiative to raise community college graduation rates.

"This is critically important because more than half of those who enter community colleges fail to either earn a two-year degree or transfer to a earn a four-year degree. So we want to thank Melinda Gates for that terrific contribution," he said.

"The Aspen Institute and several leading foundations are launching a competitive prize for community college excellence. It`s going to shine a spotlight on community colleges delivering truly exceptional results - places that often don`t get a lot of attention, but make a tremendous difference in their students` lives," Obama said.

"So we’re investing in community colleges. We’re making college more affordable. We’re bringing together businesses, nonprofits and schools to train folks for the jobs of a new century. Now, all of this will help ensure that we continue to lead the global economy - but only if we maintain this commitment to education that`s always been central to our success," he said.

PTI