Education is the only tool that can eradicate poverty and respond to challenges of health care and environment, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Madras G. Thiruvasagam said here on Saturday.

While saying that teachers should be the “best minds,” he urged them not to confine themselves to syllabus and classrooms as they would not be able to generate “full-fledged products.” Teachers should be selfless and help students imbibe the qualities of compassion, dedication and commitment.

He was speaking on ‘Educational reformation today for better tomorrow,' after inaugurating the State-level Educational Summit 2011, organised by St. John's International Residential School.

Though literacy rate had gone up since Independence, the fact that 50 per cent of the women remained illiterate was a major concern.

Five lakh candidates cleared Plus Two examinations in Tamil Nadu this year but only 12 per cent chose to go for higher education. “Does it mean that we have failed to attract students to colleges?”

P. Jothimani, Judge of the Madras High Court, said that education without character would be disastrous. “I do not want India to become a superpower without retaining Indian culture.” He wanted teaching to reach the “last benchers” too.

S. Sathikh, former vice-chancellor of the University of Madras, said that importance should be given to leadership rather than efficiency in education.

R. Nataraj, former Director General of Police, pleaded for promotion of lateral thinking and focus on quality in education. He underlined the need for values without which society would suffer. “If discipline is practised at home, it can bring down delinquency in society.”

R. Kishore Kumar, convenor of the summit and Senior Principal of the school, lamented that all the tall talk of reformation in education continued to skirt the aspect of quality.

It would be achieved only if appropriate remuneration is extended to teachers.

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