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Illiteracy to blame for poverty: Kalam
August 14, 2004 18:00 IST
The text of President A P J Abdul Kalam's address to the nation on the eve of the 58th Independence Day:
On the eve of the 58th Independence Day, I extend to you my best wishes for your happiness and prosperity. My greetings to all of you at home and abroad. Let us, on this occasion, remember with gratitude, the selfless and devoted services of our armed forces and those of the paramilitary forces, who are guarding our frontiers on land, at sea, and in the air. I take this opportunity on this Independence Day to convey the best wishes of the people of India, to our men and women participating in the Olympic Games in Athens.
I met 200 freedom fighters from different parts of the country on August 9. I saw in their ripe age, their enthusiasm to bring back nationalism as a living movement. I salute our freedom fighters on this occasion. Let me dedicate this Independence Day broadcast to the great souls who pioneered our Independence movement. We remember them with reverence and gratitude for liberating us from centuries of foreign rule. Their saga of sacrifice has led to the realization of the singular and noble vision of heralding an independent nation.
Dear citizens, we must realise, the significance and the value of our freedom movement. Fortunately after our independence in 1947, we have come a long way in the field of education and have moved towards a knowledge society, as a result of the vision of our educationalists and the policies and actions of successive governments. Many of our educational institutions have excelled in the world. In order to revitalise our self-esteem and culture, it is vital to emphasise the role of the education system in creating an enlightened, dynamic and prosperous society utilising the advancement of science and technology. I therefore propose to discuss the education system in some detail later.
We realize it is essential to strengthen and restructure the United Nations to make it more purposeful.
We cherish and advocate multi-polarity in the world order that respects the principles of sovereignty, non-intervention, freedom and democracy. While not forgetting the painful lessons of history, our foreign policy is aimed at a vision that seeks to establish India, the largest democracy in the world as a developed country with its rightful place in international fora.
Defence and security
In addition we may consider the possibility of underground water storage systems at river basin sites and at other places. The water thus stored will be useful during the time of need. A Water Mission has been rightly identified as a priority area by my government.
Diversity of skills and perseverance in work makes an entrepreneur. In addition, college syllabi even for arts, science and commerce courses should include topics and practicals where such entrepreneurship is possible. Secondly, the banking system should provide venture capital right from the village level to prospective entrepreneurs for undertaking new enterprises. Banks have to be proactive in supporting innovative products for enabling wealth generation by young entrepreneurs by setting aside the 'conventional tangible asset syndrome.' Thirdly, there has to be an economic pull for generation of marketable products and enhancement of purchasing power among the people. This can come through the implementation of mega programmes such as rural connectivity, regional linking of rivers, infrastructural missions, power missions and tourism.
We need the education system to focus on high value and productive employment opportunities. A recent study indicates that the unemployment level in the country is nine percent of 400 million employable people. That is around 36 million. We can definitely find productive employment for all 36 million people by launching certain missions like bio-diesel generation through plants such as the Jatropha, dry land and herbal farming in the available 33 million hectares of wasteland earmarked for cultivation.
Mission of Education
In view of such critical issues and their importance and also to break out of our historical mindset, an effective and self-renewing education system is therefore fundamental to the survival and growth of civilizations. Therefore, I propose to address the issues pertaining to education in some detail and suggest solutions that can be considered for implementation.
Inequality of access to educational resources
It is essential we enlighten and create awareness of education among all sections of society particularly in rural areas and among the urban poor. We should use technology for this important social purpose. It is possible for NGOs, social and philanthropic institutions and the media to focus on this area of creating awareness. We should mobilise resources for providing education to the underprivileged people. Let us elaborate the way ahead.
Mobilising resources for the Mission of Education
Clearly public expenditure alone from governments at the Centre and in the States might not able to meet the challenge of mobilising an additional two to three percent of GDP for the Mission of Education. It is here we have to generate additional resources for this noble mission. Expenditure on education, whether in the Centre or in the States can no longer be provided only by respective ministries or departments for human resource development. Every department of the government must play a significant role as a partner in human resource development organisation and contribute resources in terms of budget and infrastructure for implementing the mission of providing quality education to the whole nation.
To augment government resources, I appeal to the corporate sector to emulate the example set by some corporate leaders who have focused on education to make a national difference. Different regions of the country may be adopted by the corporate sector within an overall national mission for education. The mechanism should enable persons to have freedom to innovate and deliver directly.
Standardisation of teaching
There also is a need for preparatory education even in rural areas to make the child competitive when he or she joins the regular school. NGOs and the corporate sector can play a vital role in running such schools in rural areas. Rich parents who can afford can also adopt some rural children for educating them in preparatory schools.
Planning for good education for children in villages
I was glad to see a child's concern for his rural counterparts. We need to address this problem, which has multiple dimensions. It tells us about the non-availability of infrastructure in schools, the problem of syllabi followed in the school and the non-availability of quality teachers.
The role of parents
Apart from attracting children to schools, the education system should be able to provide nourishment and inject creativity among them. The aim of the education system should be to build character, human values, enhance learning capacity through technology and build confidence among children to face the future.
I have seen an education model implemented in Karnataka, which provides accelerated learning using computer aids so that children can have creative learning with the tools of creative animation through computers.
Dropouts are identified and brought to the school. This holistic phenomenon of learning once ingrained in the primary stage, where there is a happy learning process and non-threatening evaluation, has led to voluntary learning by the participants.
System of entrance examination
Examinations must also be so designed that attending a coaching course would not provide undue advantage to privileged students. Entrance tests should be more in the nature of aptitude assessment rather than creating a seniority list.
Renewal of evaluation system
Need for adoption of safety measures
Technology enhanced education
It attempts to exploit the rapid developments in Information and Communication Technology. As the communications bandwidth continues to increase and the cost of computer power continues to drop, Technology Enhanced Learning will become an economically viable solution. Virtual classrooms will have students from many locations taught by a team of geographically distributed instructors through the tele-education delivery system.
Ultimately, education in its real sense is the pursuit of truth. It is an endless journey through knowledge and enlightenment. Such a journey opens up new vistas of development of humanism where there is no scope, nor room for pettiness, disharmony, jealousy, hatred or enmity. It transforms a human being into a wholesome whole, a noble soul and an asset to the universe. Universal brotherhood in its true sense becomes the sheet anchor for such an education.
Real education enhances the dignity of a human being and increases his or her self-respect. If only the real sense of education could be realised by each individual and carried forward in every field of human activity the world will be so much a better place to live in.
The mission of education by the government at the Centre or States or their combination is the foundation to ensure the creation of enlightened citizens who will make a prosperous, happy and strong nation. May God bless you.
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