2. I am delighted to be here today on this memorable occasion. I take this opportunity to welcome our esteemedChief Guest, Honble President for gracing the Education Day celebration. I am equally honoured and delighted thatDr. Karan Singh and Director General of UNESCO, Ms. Irina Bokova are also gracing this occasion.
3. Maulana Azad, as we all know, was an inspirational figure, a great visionary, freedom fighter, scholar and also the first Education Minister of free India. We owe a great deal to the progress achieved in education in Independent India to the direction and goals that Maulana ji had envisioned for us. Let us salute and pay our homage to this great visionary and architect of our education system.
4. In the Indian way of thinking, a human being is a positive asset and a precious national resource, which needs to be cherished, nurtured and developed with tenderness and care, coupled with dynamism. Each individuals growth presents a different range of challenges and requirements, at every stage. The catalytic action of education in this complex and dynamic growth process needs to be planned meticulously and executed with great sensitivity.
5. India has emerged as a global leader and a strong nation at the turn of this century. 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 Indias 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 Maulanas vision of free and compulsory education for all. 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.
6. 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. 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.
7. In my view, 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.
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.
Another Important development affecting our globe is the awareness and the need for sustainability and addressing issues relating to global warming and climate change. Education, must inculcate the values of sustainable development in the minds of our youth.
8. 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 MetaUniversities, design Innovation centres, research parks, focus on research and innovation are also underway.
9. Technology Enabled Learning through the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT) is being implemented by my 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. You just saw, the Version 2.0 of Aakash tablet which is a full-fledged tablet computer with excellent specifications. IIT Bombay, along with the Ministry of has created several useful educational applications for the Aakash tablet. Teachers &students in the remotest corners of our country can join a classroom and benefit from lectures delivered by the best teachers.
10. However, even with all the tremendous advances in technology, it is important to have good teachers for providing quality education. The teacher education system needs to be integrated with higher education institutions and university system to provide opportunities for growth. Ultimately, it is a good teacher who first assesses the potential of his/her student, and then leads the student towards self-actualisation. In view of the tremendous need for good teachers in our education system, we propose to undertake a National Mission on Teachersand Teaching to address all issues related to teachers in a holistic manner across all levels and sectors.
12. A little while ago, I had underscored the importance of sustainable development and its role in education. We firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam.We are eager to share knowledge and culture with the world community in order to develop an environment of peace and sustainable development. It is with this spirit that the Government of India had proposed to UNESCO to establish the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, as the first Category-I institute of UNESCO in the entire Asia. I am thankful to UNESCO for having accepted our request. I am sure that this Institute will blossom into a lighthouse of knowledge and good practices not only in Asia but the entire world and will prove true to its name of Mahatma Gandhi who always stood for truth and peace. I would also like to assure UNESCO of full cooperation by Government of India in the functioning of this Institute.
13. Our vision is that India should become a knowledge power in the coming decade. This will mean that every Indian must have access to affordable education of good quality. I am sure the thinking of Maulana Azad and his visionary perspectives on education will continue to spread their fragrance and guide us to build knowledge and a learning society; a society which aims at creating citizens equipped with necessary knowledge, skills and values to build an inclusive, just and progressive society.
With these words, I once again pay my tributes to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad.