Following is the text of Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s address to Awardee Teachers on the eve of Teachers’ Day:
“I am delighted to be with you on the eve of Teachers’ Day. I join you all in paying homage to the great teacher, philosopher and educationist of our time Dr. Radhakrishnan, whose birth anniversary is celebrated as Teachers’ Day every year.
I congratulate all of you – Teacher Awardees – on winning this very prestigious national award. On the occasion of the Teachers’ Day.
I also extend my heartfelt warm greetings to all members of the teaching community and wish you every success and fulfillment in your personal life and vocation.
Education provides the skills and competencies necessary for economic development, it empowers citizens to fully participate in the political processes and it imparts values that foster social cohesion and national unity. A well educated population, is essential for the economic and social progress of any country.
It is for this reason that our government has substantially increased public spending on education since 2004-05. Education expenditure as a percentage of our GDP has increased from 3.3% in 2004-05 to 4% in 2011-12. Per capita public expenditure on education has increased from Rs. 888 in 2004-05 to Rs. 2,985 in 2011-12. The enhanced outlays have helped in a massive expansion of the educational infrastructure and sanction of additional posts of teachers on a large scale.
As a result of these efforts, we have made significant progress in improving access to education. Enrolment of children in primary schools has now reached near-universal levels. The gender gap in elementary education has declined. Simultaneously, there is a significant reduction in socio-economic inequalities in access to education and a narrowing of the gap between SCs/STs, minorities and other social groups.
However, the poor levels of student learning remain a major concern. Therefore, as we move ahead we need a clear shift in our strategy from a focus on inputs, access and enrolment to what goes on in the classroom and the school. We need to set up transparent and reliable systems for tracking attendance of children in a truly meaningful way. At the same time, we need to put in place a system of continuous assessment of the benefit our children are getting from their education. Participation of the community and parents would be essential in this process, so that they can be satisfied with the quality of teaching.
It goes without saying that the teachers, are critical to the success of our endeavours to impart quality education to our children. Teachers have to be an integral part of policy-making, governance and management, as also of day-to-day instructional strategies and decision making. The empowerment of teachers that includes real opportunity for them to share policy perspectives and decision-making will have to be the key component of the educational reform process.
As teachers, we look to you to guide the children of our country in their quest for knowledge and truth. Through you, we aspire to build in our children a commitment to the values of democracy, and the values of equality, social justice, freedom, secularism, and respect for human dignity. I urge you to develop in children independence of thought and action and the capacity for taking carefully considered decisions. Through you, our children should also develop a sensitivity to the well-being and feelings of others and also the ability to work and participate in the processes of social and economic change.
I once again congratulate you for contributing so handsomely to the processes of nation building. Teachers are key to a nation’s future as they are the nation builders. I have full confidence that with teachers like you the future of our country is safe and bright. I wish all teachers in the country a very meaningful and satisfying engagement with our children.”