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To inspire students, PM recalls his early days

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has recalled his hard days as a child and his gradual rise to become the head of the state in an attempt to inspire schoolchildren across the country. Chetan Chauhan reports.

delhi Updated: Nov 07, 2011 01:48 IST
Chetan Chauhan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has recalled his hard days as a child and his gradual rise to become the head of the state in an attempt to inspire schoolchildren across the country.

In a message to be read in 14 lakh elementary schools across India on November 14 — the Children’s Day — Singh says education gave him a “new life” and his efforts have been “rewarded” by the country.

“I went to a village school that had no electricity,” he said. Singh did his schooling in Chakwal district, now in Pakistan, in 1930s and 1940s. “I studied under an earthen oil lamp.”

Singh, who lost his mother at an early age, studied in a temporary school miles away from his village. “My village did not have pucca roads or fast vehicles… I would walk miles to reach school.”

But a lot has changed since Singh went to school. Right to Education (RTE) is now a fundamental right and elementary education is free. Singh’s family had to pay for school education and it was not mandatory for schools to admit a child, now a must under RTE Act.

“In the India of today, every child, without discrimination, has the right to education,” the PM’s message, translated in 12 regional languages, reads.

In the light of change, Singh urged children to ask as many questions as they can and seek answers to them from teachers and quoted Mahatma Gandhi to insist that persistent questioning and healthy inquisitiveness are prerequisites for learning.

The 79-year-old, who is the third longest serving prime minister, owes his achievements to education.

On the occasion of the Children’s day celebrations, a message from HRD minister Kapil Sibal emphasising on the importance of RTE and messages from respective chief ministers will also be read in schools.