President Barack Obama announced Saturday he will be sending to Congress a new education initiative designed to better prepare high school graduates for college and a professional career.

The proposal, addressing the needs of the elementary and secondary education systems, will overhaul the so-called "No Child Left Behind" Act, an education reform adopted under former president George W. Bush.

In his weekly radio address, Obama said his administration will be submitting to Congress a blueprint for an updated Elementary and Secondary Education Act on Monday.

"What this plan recognizes is that while the federal government can play a leading role in encouraging the reforms and high standards we need, the impetus for that change will come from states, and from local schools and school districts," the president said. "So, yes, we set a high bar - but we also provide educators the flexibility to reach it."

Obama admitted that his initiative stemmed from recognition that the United States was losing its competitive edge to other countries in the area of education.

"One assessment shows American fifteen year olds no longer even near the top in math and science when compared to their peers around the world," he said.

"As referenced in the news report I mentioned, we've now fallen behind most wealthy countries in our high school graduation rates. And while we once led the world in the proportion of college graduates we produced, today we no longer do."

Under his proposal, schools that show real progress will be rewarded, and teachers will have an opportunity to improve their qualifications, the president said.

The plan will also help ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and a career, and it will provide states and school districts with the resources to reach that goal.

This video was published to the Web by the White House on Saturday, March 13, 2010.

With AFP.