"The Right to Education Act is a proactive response to fill the gap between the temples of learning and the child and the young population of our country," he said while addressing faculty and students of the Himachal Pradesh University here.
Regretting that the rate of enrolment in higher education is still around 19 percent in the country, he said, "The government aims to raise it to 30 percent by 2020".
Delivering the inaugural address at the university's three-day foundation day function, Fernandes said Indian youth, to their credit, shine in academics and research all over the world.
"This proves that there is no dearth of talent. But lack of adequate funding and infrastructure for research hamper our universities," the minister said.
Quoting from 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai's address to the UN General Assembly, he said: "If we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness."
Malala, who was seriously injured in a Taliban attack in Pakistan's northwest Swat valley last year, this month celebrated her 16th birthday.
In her speech at the United Nations in New York, she called on world leaders to provide free schooling to all children.
--IANS (Posted on 22-07-2013)