Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday made out a strong case for restoring the prestige and status of the teaching profession. Addressing the National Education Day celebrations to commemorate the birth anniversary of the first Union Education Minister, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Dr. Singh dwelt upon the difficulties being faced by his government in finding teachers for the newly created institutions of higher education.
While referring to the shortage of faculty at every stage of education, the Prime Minister focused on the difficulty in finding top-level professors and lecturers in the newly created Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research, and other such institutions.
“This state of affairs cannot be allowed to persist, and I urge all of you to work to address these problems of deficiency in the quality of teaching in our schools, in our colleges and in our universities,” Dr. Singh said.
Of the view that the importance of good teachers cannot be over-emphasised, he stressed upon the need for finding ways to attract the best talent to join as faculty in premier institutions in particular, and to improve the quality of teachers available in the country in general.
Reaffirming his government’s commitment to education, Dr. Singh said the Right to Education (RTE) was one such step, but was quick to point out that its implementation depended equally on expansion of educational infrastructure and availability of trained and qualified teachers. “The RTE alone would require an additional one million teachers,” he pointed out.
In his speech, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said the RTE would take quality education to an estimated 160 million students who were presently out of school. He also made out a case for extending greater respect to the teaching community.
Speaking about the demographic advantage that India has with 70 per cent of the population being below 35, Mr. Sibal said this edge that the country had over others could be realised only if opportunities for education were expanded on a massive scale.
In this connection, he described India’s Gross Enrolment Ratio of 12.4 per cent as “unacceptable” as it was below the world average and that for countries in transition, the developed world and Asian countries.