WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President Barack Obama highlighted Saturday the importance of improving the US education system as a means of maintaining America's competitive edge in the modern world.

"Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education beyond high school, many requiring proficiency in math and science," the president said in his weekly radio address. "And yet today we've fallen behind in math, science, and graduation rates."

A government study on US school children unveiled last month found that just one in three show proficiency in science in middle school and junior high, while that number drops to one in five of those graduating high school.

And even fewer, between one and two percent, showed a grasp of advanced science, said the National Assessment of Educational Progress, issued by the US Department of Education.

To address this problem, Obama said, his administration has introduced a program called "Race to the Top," which is designed to lifting academic standards.

The government is also making college more affordable and revitalizing community colleges, the president noted.

"If we want to win the global competition for new jobs and industries, we've got to win the global competition to educate our people," Obama said. "We've got to have the best trained, best skilled workforce in the world. That's how we'll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America, and hires American workers."

This video is from the White House, broadcast Feb. 19, 2011.