New Delhi – “Education is probably the single most important function of human civilisation, not merely the formal education system but the broader question of educating human beings around the world. Recent breakthroughs in communication technology have given us immense possibilities in this regard,” says Dr. Karan Singh, Member of India’s Upper House of Parliament Rajya Sabha.
Delivering the United Nations Public Lecture in New Delhi, Dr. Karan Singh added, “Indians are heirs to one of the most powerful intellectual and educational traditions in human history, I refer to the first documented educational system in India, the Vedic-Upanishad system. Although it may have been confined to a rather small section of the population, it was an extremely potent and luminous system revolving around the method of passing on wisdom from the Rishi/Guru to the Shishya/Disciple.”
The Public Lecture was on the topic Education in the 21st Century. Dr. Singh called for the need for holistic and inclusive education. He further said, “Everyone must have the courage to think globally, to break away from traditional paradigms and plunge boldly into the unknown. We must so mobilize our inner and outer resources that we begin consciously to build a new world based on mutually assured welfare rather than mutually assured destruction.”
Enacted on 1 April 2010, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) in India serves as a building block to ensure that every child from 6 to 14 years has his or her right to get quality elementary education and that the State, with the help of families and communities, fulfils this obligation. Four years since its enactment, there have been significant resource allocations to the education sector, substantive structural changes as well as countless stories of hope from the field. However, much more is required to achieve quality education with equity for every girl and boy in India.
Globally, the education for all goals received a further push with the UN Secretary General launching his Global Education First Initiative campaign. The campaign identifies three priorities: providing access to education, improving quality of education and fostering global citizenship for a sustainable and peaceful future.
“The world will achieve the Millennium Development Goal of Education, in large measure because India has achieved almost universal primary enrolment and as many girls go to primary school in India, as do boys,” says Lise Grande, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka while referring to the UNESCO Delor’s Report Learning: the Treasure Within, said “Learning throughout life is one of the keys to meeting the challenges of the 21st Century. The four pillars mentioned in the aforementioned Report, namely, learning to be, learning to know, learning to do and learning to live together – are the ways which will allow to unravel the hidden talents buried within every person which remain untapped otherwise. While education should therefore constantly adapt to changes in the society, it must not fail to pass on the foundations and benefits of human experiences.”
“The aspiration is that all children have 12 years of quality education. This is possible through child–friendly schools and inclusive learning. While we strive to strengthen the education system as a whole, we need to focus on out of school children, children from marginalized communities and girls”, said Mr. Louis-Georges Arsenault, UNICEF India Representative.