Asserting that the UPA Government has laid emphasis on education ever since it came to power in 2004, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said India can emerge as a modern, progressive and prosperous country only when its citizens have access to good quality education.
Speaking at the inaugural function of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS) here, Dr. Singh said: "Our government has always recognized that India can emerge as a modern, progressive and prosperous country only when our citizens have access to good quality education. We know that our country is a young country and we can reap the demographic dividend only if we have an educated and skilled workforce that would help our economy to expand and become more productive."
"Ever since our government came to power in 2004, we have laid special emphasis on education. We have increased investment in education on an unprecedented scale. We have rapidly expanded access to education. We have worked to improve the quality of teaching to enable better learning outcomes. We have endeavoured to ensure that students from the weaker sections of our society and the less developed regions of our country also get adequate access to educational opportunities," he added.
Asking the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan to be a role model for neighbourhood schools, Dr. Singh said: "Kendriya Vidyalayas can help in a major way in setting standards and benchmarks for schools that are situated in the area around them. This is one of the roles envisaged for Kendriya Vidyalayas in the 12th Five-Year Plan."
"They should act as role models for neighbourhood schools, mentoring them and sharing best practices with them. I would urge the KVS system to find ways and means of effectively fulfilling these expectations," he added.
"I am very happy that KVS has taken a number of new initiatives to keep pace with the rapidly changing realities around us. These include use of Information Technology in imparting education, exchange programmes for teachers and students with foreign countries and teaching of foreign languages," Dr. Singh said.
"These are all commendable steps that would help Kendriya Vidyalayas in improving their standards. But much more needs to be done as KVS strives towards excellence. I would expect KVS to embrace change boldly wherever it is needed, particularly in the use of modern techniques and technology,' he added.
Asserting that today, access to primary education in our country is almost universal, Dr. Singh said: " The Right to Education Act ensures that every child in our country has the right to eight years of elementary education. The Mid Day Meal scheme, which provides hot meals in schools to about 11 crore children every day, has contributed to improved retention outcomes in our schools.
"But, the standard of teachers and teaching is not up to the mark, and learning outcomes are far below what we want them to be. Drop-out rates in schools remain high after the elementary level. Some major concerns relating to equity also remain to be addressed," he added. (ANI)