Asserting that India has emerged as a global leader and a strong nation at the turn of this century, Union Human Resource and Development (HRD) Minister Dr. M. M. Pallam Raju on Sunday said education is the key to the task of nation building as well as to provide requisite knowledge and skills required for sustained growth of the economy and to ensure overall progress.
"Maulana Azad, as independent India's first Minister for Education, had laid the foundations of the education system of our country and his ideas and ideals continue to guide us for achieving quality education to all our children. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (2009) is indeed a major step forward in concretizing Maulana's vision of free and compulsory education for all," said Dr. Raju in his speech on the occasion of National Education Day.
"We are now moving towards universalisation of secondary education through Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. Maulana had also emphasized on technical and higher education and we are working relentlessly in that direction," he added.
Dr. Raju said 'India, as we all know, is an emerging economy with a very favourable dependency ratio'.
"If we wish to earn the demographic dividend, then we must provide education and skills to all our youth so that they can develop themselves into human resources, not only for the development of our nation but also for the world.However, even more important than development of job skills is the need to develop appropriate values of tolerance, non-violence, secularism and humanism amongst children and youth," said Dr. Raju.
"As Mahatma Gandhi had said and I quote "What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education". Unquote. Thus, we need to take a holistic view of development of education for empowerment of our children and youth," he added.
Dr. Raju said that there are certain contextual realities that we need to consider while considering the importance of education and skill development in the present state of globalization and emergence of knowledge societies.
"Firstly, there has been the tremendous advancement in technology which has transformed the nature of delivery systems in education. Secondly, the global economies are becoming increasingly integrated. Cross border manufacturing processes and global transactions in services sector have created a demand for education not only of "national quality" but also which helps further this process of globalized economy," said Dr. Raju.
"Thirdly, in a knowledge economy, the wealth of anation will not be measured in terms of its natural resources but in terms of its human capital. Thus, we need to promote research and innovation in our institutions and create an eco-system of excellence right from the elementary level upto the institutions of high-end research and innovation," he added.
Dr. Raju further said another important development affecting the globe is the awareness and the need for sustainability and addressing issues relating to global warming and climate change, and added that education must inculcate the values of sustainable development in the minds of our youth.
" In this context, we need to ensure access to quality education for all so as to create an environment whereby the fruits of development and growing opportunities are available to all sections. Apart from expanding access to elementary and secondary education we have opened a number of new institutions of higher learning in our quest for access to education with equity and quality. Several new initiatives such as setting up of Meta-Universities, design Innovation centres, research parks, focus on research and innovation are also underway," he added.
Dr. Raju pointed out that the 'Technology Enabled Learning' through the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT) is being implemented by the HRD Ministry to leverage the potential of ICT in providing high-quality, personalized, and interactive knowledge modules over the internet in a any-time, any-where mode.
President Pranab Mukherjee, India's Representative to the UNESCO, Dr. Karan Singh, Director General UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and other dignitaries were present on the occasion. (ANI)