On her birth anniversary today, it is her deep commitment to the development of the country and to the upliftment of those living in poverty that one recalls as her distinguishing hallmark. She viewed education as a liberating force, which while enabling individuals to earn a living would also make them capable citizens and therefore, wanted that education should reach all people in the country. She had faith in the power of technology to contribute to this. She said, and I quote, “Communication technology frees the entire concept of education from its previous limit of time and space ... we can reach out to the remotest places and to the best minds that exist. We do not have all of it yet in India, but I sincerely hope that we will have it soon and that this will help our education to be more broad-based and deeper”. India has now emerged as a leader in IT and we must use its potential to the fullest, to spread education and knowledge. Indeed, the mission of IGNOU, founded in 1985, is to make knowledge and skills available to anybody, anywhere,anytime. I wish everyone associated with IGNOU every success in this noble endeavour.
IGNOU has grown in the 25 years of its existence. It has over 15 per cent of all learners enrolled in higher education in the country and offers a wide range of programmes and courses through its vast network of learning centres across the country. Its Regional Centres can play a very important role in reducing disparities in education by extending education opportunities in villages and remote areas. While expanding its coverage and as part of its continuing effort to improve its teaching platform, I am told, that IGNOU has started a “convergence scheme” bringing together the strengths of face-to-face conventional education and the flexibility of open distance learning. It is institutions that seek to excel that constantly work to upgrade their facilities and incorporate good practices
The importance of education cannot be over emphasized. It is a very powerful tool for empowering people and for giving them self-dignity. It becomes even more important for a nation like ours that is in the process of harnessing its human resources for rapid economic growth. Today, we need more children in school and more of them to go on to higher education. Proper training, provisioning of skills sets and capacity building of its population are tools which shall make our human resources competent and confident to face the new set of challenges of a fast changing world.
Nations with high quality human resources would be counted amongst the front ranking nations of the world in the knowledge era. Aristotle, the ancient Greek philosopher, once remarked that the fate of nations.depends on the education of its youth. Therefore, reaching education to young girls and boys must occupy a foremost position on our agenda, if we are to be firmly positioned as one of the leading nations of the world. That is why Government has made education a priority sector. Free education to children between the ages 6 and 14 years is - now a fundamental right. The Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan seeks to achieve universal secondary education by the year 2017. The Gross Enrollment Ratio or GER in India in higher education is very low as compared to the world average. Strenuous efforts are required to reach our goal of enhancing GER in India to 20 per cent by 2020. A massive expansion in higher education through new institutions is also underway, alongwith efforts to improve educational standards, including through undertaking structural reforms in the higher education system and using all available methods to spread education. The National Mission on Education through Information Communication Technology launched in February this year will create internet connectivity to about 20,000 colleges and educational institutions. This initiative will, I am confident bring in the use of modern technology in higher education in a more widespread manner.
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