4 Sep : The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, met the National Awardee teachers, in New Delhi today. Speaking on the occasion the Prime Minister said that the awards conferred on them were a token of our nation’s appreciation of their efforts, dedication and commitment. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s speech on the occasion:
“On this auspicious occasion of Teacher’s Day, I give you my greetings and very best wishes. I started my career as a teacher and teaching had always remained my first love. So I am very happy to have this opportunity to meet you, to congratulate you on the important prestigious National Award which have been conferred on you. I congratulate each one of you who are going to be honoured for their meritorious services in the field of school education. These National Awards are a token of our grateful Nation’s appreciation of the role teachers play in processes of nation building. On this occasion, I extend my felicitation to the entire teaching community in our country who are working unitedly to strengthen designing of national integration, secularism and democracy. I would also like to pay my tribute to the great statesman, scholar, our former President, Dr. S. Radhakrishnan whose life and work symbolises the ideals of a teacher in its true sense and whose birthday is aptly celebrated every year as Teacher’s Day. Keeping in view the central role of education in social and economic development of our country, our Government has given special attention to the development of education.
Investment in the education sector especially in the areas of school education, has increased manifold in the last four years. The XI Five Year Plan can be described as an education plan for our country. It has been our effort to ensure that every section of our society gets access to education. Several new scholarship schemes are being implemented for educational development of our children belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and religious minorities. Special emphasis is also being laid on the education of the girl child. We intend to address the concerns of equity and social justice of the development of a cohesive Indian polity. Suitable educational interventions are being attempted to redress the existing disparity in access to quality education. This is important because for many deprived social groups, education could be a major instrument for upward economic and social mobility.
The implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has been a watershed in the field of education. The focus is on improving the existing infrastructure of regular schools as well as to create alternative strategies for mainstreaming all out of school children. As a result of various interventions, the number of out of school children has come down substantially. But it is still much too high and we must make determined efforts to reduce this further. Special emphasis is being given in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan for education of the children of disadvantaged sections of our society. Intervention such as the supply of free textbooks, uniforms, remedial classes, provision of hostel facilities for girls has shown positive results. Equal emphasis is being laid on the improvement of quality. I must admit that the dropout rate in our school system continues to be a cause of serious concern and we have to make determined efforts to reduce it significantly. Mid-Day Meal Scheme has been expanded now upto 8th Class all over the country. About 14 crore children particularly belonging to poorer sections are benefitting from this ambitious nutritional intervention. It also improved school attendance as well.
Upto secondary stage, a new programme called Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan is being launched. Under this programme, access to secondary school will be enhanced by improving the quality of education in the school. One of the major component of quality improvement would be to make available qualified and trained level of teachers in adequate numbers. 6000 new high quality model schools with atleast one school in each development block are also planned to set the pace for improvement of quality in neighbouring schools to various interventions including teacher’s improvement and capacity building. In the higher education sector, 373 new colleges have been opened in the backward districts of our country. We have also announced opening of 30 new universities, eight new IITs, seven IIMs, 20 Indian Institutes of Information Technology, five Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, two schools of planning and architecture and ten National Institutes of Technology and 1000 new polytechniques. Equal emphasis is being given to the professional development of our school teachers. Along with their normal pre-service an in-service training, special training in IT has also been planned. Teachers empowered with information technology skills will make classrooms more interesting and activity oriented. This will enhance the teacher’s learning process and will help our students to learn more and to learn better. Interventions need to be designed to address the problems of low learner’s achievements and poor classroom transactions. Local community need to be actively involved. There is an urgent need to initiate reforms in curricula, examination systems and development of text books in the light of the national curriculum framework of 2005. In all these matters, I seek active involvement and cooperation of the teaching fraternity.
I look forward to and depend upon the greater professionalism, patriotism, commitment and dedication among the teaching community for transformation of our education since I have strong conviction that no system of education can go beyond the level and motivation of its teachers. I urge you to ensure that our great cultural heritage is preserved while preparing our children for global citizenship. I would appeal to you and through you to the entire teaching fraternity to inculcate high moral values and progressive outlook among our children so as to enable them to compete with the rest of the world without losing our own cultural identity. Once again, I congratulate you on winning the prestigious national award. I wish you all success in the challenging task of building a new India. You are the true builders of our Nation. I extend my warm greetings to all members of teaching community in our country on the occasion of the Teacher’s Day.”