Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has endorsed BSP supreme Mayawati’s call for “affirmative action” to economically weaker sections among forward communities.
If there are ideas about problems faced by children from sections other than backward communities, these should be taken on board, Singh said while inaugurating a two-day conference titled “Empowerment of SCs, STs and minorities through elementary education”.
Speaking earlier, leader of the Opposition LK Advani had also expressed support for the idea.
“I am what I am because of education”, the Prime Minister said - emphasising on the importance of quality education. “I would not have been what I am today and could not have done what I have been able to do in my life, but for the light of education that my family lit for me”, he elaborated.
The Prime Minister expressed serious criticism of the public schooling system in the country. “The perception is that the quality gap between public schools and private schools has widened significantly over the past few decades and greater effort is required to bridge this gap. Education must not become the preserve of the privileged classes," he said.
The policy of reservation in public educational institutions has helped enrolment for higher studies, he said - while adding that the move had also facilitated entry into jobs for Dalits. The process generates a social mobility that has a wider impact on the development process, he said.
New pathways have to be found to realise the goal of educating all children, Singh said - while reiterating the UPA Government’s commitment to empower dalits, tribals, minorities and women.
Stating that Muslims were lagging behind educationally, the Prime Minister said that the UPA Government would devise focused plans for bringing economically and educationally backward areas (with large representation of minorities) at par with the rest of the country. He said his government was committed to upgrading technical skills of Dalits and minorities in order to enable them to secure access to credit and gain employment.
The Conference - jointly organised by the All India Forum of Legislators and the Ministry of Human Resources Development -was attended by a host of senior politicians including former Prime Minister IK Gujral, Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang. Lok Sabha deputy speaker Charnjit Singh Atwal - chief guest at the conference- said in his speech that a good primary school was the foundation of a strong nation. “A nation that ignores this basic reality can never rise to greatness”, he asserted.
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