New Delhi: Lamenting that standard of teachers is not up to the mark and learning outcomes are below expectations, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said "major concerns" in the field of education need to be addressed.
Singh also noted that "drop-out rates in schools remain high after the elementary level. Some major concerns relating to equity also remain to be addressed."
The Prime Minister's comments come a day after he regretted that none of the Indian universities figure among the top 200 in the world and that the focus henceforth would be on giving "over-riding emphasis on quality".
Addressing the inaugural function of the Golden Jubilee celebration of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, he said his government has always recognised that India can emerge as a modern, prosperous and progressive country only when the citizens have access to good quality education.
"We know that our country is a young country and we can reap the demographic dividend only if we have an educated and skilled workforce that would help our economy to expand and become more productive," the Prime Minister said.
Singh felt that Kendriya Vidyalayas can help in a major way in setting standards and benchmarks for schools that are situated in the area around them, adding that "this is one of the roles envisaged for them in the 12th plan".
"They should act as role models for neighbourhood schools, mentoring them and sharing best practices with them," the Prime Minister said, urging KVS system to find ways and means of effectively fulfilling these expectations.
He also said that ever since UPA government came to power, it has laid special emphasis on increasing investment in the education sector on an unprecedented scale.
Claiming that his government has rapidly expanded access to education, the Prime Minister said UPA government has worked to improve the quality of teaching to enable better learning outcomes.
"We have endeavoured to ensure that students from weaker sections of society and the less developed regions of our country also get access to educational opportunities," Singh said.
He also lauded KVS for discharging its responsibility with "great distinction", saying its journey of 50 years has been a very rewarding one and it has contributed handsomely to the process of nation building.
The Prime Minister noted with happiness that the proportion of girl students in KVs is 43 percent and that women constitute the majority among teachers.
He also chose the occasion to point out that beginning with 20 Regimental schools at the time of its establishment in 1963, KVS now administers about 1100 Kendriya Vidyalayas, spread over all parts of the country and that it imparts education to about 11 lakh children and employs more than 46000 people.
"It must be a very heartening thought for all those associated with the KVS that there is tremendous demand for additional Kendriya Vidyalayas in different parts of our country... This is a pointer to the high standards of teaching that the KVS system has maintained," he said.
He noted that KVS has taken a number of new initiatives to keep pace with the rapidly changing realities like the use of Information Technology in imparting education, exchange programmes for teachers and students with foreign countries and teaching of foreign languages.
At the same stressed, Singh stressed that "much more needs to be done as KVS strives towards excellence. I would expect KVS to embrace change boldly wherever it is needed, particularly in the use of modern techniques and technology."
Hailing the KVS system as the "best government school system", HRD Minister M Pallam Raju that it has achieved much beyond fulfilling its basic responsibility by providing quality education to employees of central government, who have a transferable job.
He noted that each Kendriya Vidyalaya is like a "Mini India" as they have students from all regions in the country and thereby contribute to national integration.
The minister said that time has come that KVS becomes an institution, which shares its good practices with others.
"Ministry of HRD has nominated KVS as a model school organization for the 2500 model schools to be set up in the country under the PPP model," he said.
Maintaining that education today is not desirable but a necessity, the HRD minister said the pre-dominantly young population in the country is a valuable force but the demographic dividends of the young population can be harnessed only if good quality education is provided to the youths.
The Prime Minister earlier inaugurated the celebrations in which was joined by the HRD minister and his deputies Jitin Prasad and Shashi Tharoor. Singh also unveiled the new logo of the KVS.
The golden jubilee celebrations of the KVS will continue for a year and a number of programmes have been planned for it.>