New Delhi: Favouring early passage of key bills related to higher education, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Public Information and Innovations Sam Pitroda on Saturday said they were vital for the nation's economy.

"Higher education reforms are essential if the nation is to meet the serious challenge of skill shortage that will not allow the economy to grow at 8 to 10 per cent annually," he said.

In this context, he stressed on early passage of the 12-odd bills on higher education pending in Parliament and especially referred to about "five bills which has been drafted but not been tabled in the Parliament as yet".

He said while several recommendations of the National Knowledge Commission are in the process of being implemented, they were awaiting the government to act on recommendations relating to reform of higher education.

Talking about the ambitious National Knowledge Network (NKN), Pitroda said the project is expected to be ready in about nine months entailing USD 5 billion.

The network would be a state-of-the-art multi-gigabit pan-India network for providing a unified high speed network backbone for all knowledge-related institutions in the country.

It would facilitate the building of quality institutions with requisite research facilities and creating a pool of highly-trained professionals, he said.

The NKN would be a platform for delivering effective distance education where teachers and students can interact in real time, promising a boon to countries like India where access to education is limited by factors such as geography, lack of infrastructure facilities etc, he said.

The network enables co-sharing of information such as classroom lectures, presentations and handouts among different institutions.

Besides, he said the NKN will enable scientists, researchers and students from different backgrounds and diverse geographies to work closely for advancing human development in critical and emerging areas.