Chennai, Sept 5 : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today asked the political leadership to understand the importance of education in the country's development in his speech at the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Madras University in Chennai.
"Unfortunately, a considerable part of our public discourse is focused on short-term problems and on issues pertaining to access to what is presently available," the Prime Minister said, and added, "We are not devoting as much attention to questions of growth and development and to the challenge of a multi-fold expansion of opportunities."
He said, "I urge all our political leaders to understand the central importance of education in the development of our country," adding that expansion of opportunities should not compromise on the standards and outcome of education.
Singh, while asserting that the focus should be on granting access to quality education to all deserving children, said "India cannot realise its full development potential if the hitherto marginalised sections of society do not become active partners in the process of development. Education must contribute to the achievement of this goal."
On democratisation of education, the Prime Minister said, "an innovative India must combine both inclusion and excellence and it is wrong to see them as two separate and contradictory goals."
The Prime Minister also said that the Indian subcontinent has been a land of learning since the dawn of civilization and that it not only gave birth to great and ancient languages like Sanskrit and Tamil, but also to great ideas in science and mathematics like the concept of zero and the binary system.
Singh said that it should be the goal our country to build an India where all the children are in school, all young adults have an opportunity to be professionally trained in marketable skills if they choose to, and all children can pursue intellectual excellence.
He also emphasized that special attention would have to be given to the education of the girl child and women.
In this context he he said that Congress President Sonia Gandhi, has "called for making universal female literacy the cornerstone of our educational endeavour as it has the maximum multiplier effects on development".
Singh also complimented the Tamil Nadu government and Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for the impressive track record in increasing female literacy and education of the girl child.