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There is an 'education arms race' on from India to China: Obama

Thursday, October 14, 2010 12:39:39 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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US losing competitive edge to India, China, fears Obama

Washington: US President Barack Obama has warned that cutting America's education budget would amount to "unilateral disarmament" in an "education arms race" from India and China to Germany to lead the global economy.

"Nothing would be more shortsighted," Obama said at the White House Wednesday noting "the nation that educates its children the best will be the nation that leads the global economy in the 21st century."

"There's an educational arms race taking place around the world right now -- from China to Germany, to India to South Korea. Cutting back on education would amount to unilateral disarmament," he said. "We can't afford to do that."

Obama said he was asking the Congress to make the "American Opportunity Tax Credit", a college tuition tax credit worth up to $2,500 a year, permanent for four years of college " because we've got to make sure that in good times or bad, our families can invest in their children's future and in the future of our country."

But the opposition Republican proposal to cut back on education by 20 percent would mean "reducing financial aid for eight million students and leaving our community colleges without the resources they need to prepare our students for the jobs of the future."

"It's not just about preparing our kids for the jobs of the future," he said. "It's about building a brighter future ... where the American Dream is a living reality. By opening the doors of college to anyone who wants to go, that's a future we can help build together."

In another address on "Moving America Forward" at George Washington University here Tuesday, Obama said: "The single most important determinant of how we do economically is going to be the skills of our workforce. "

"We used to be at the top of the heap when it came to math and science education. We're now 21st and 25th respectively in science and math. We used to be number one in the proportion of college graduates in the world. We're now ranked around ninth."

"Other countries are making huge investments," Obama said citing China, which "is doubling, tripling, quadrupling the number of college graduates it's generating" because it understands "that to start moving up the value chain in the economy, they've got to start producing more engineers and scientists."

"India understands that. Germany has long understood that. And yet here we are, losing that first-place position. That is unacceptable." Obama said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at




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