Special Correspondent

“A woman can make an immense contribution to the progress of society as well as the country”

JAIPUR: President Pratibha Patil on Saturday laid emphasis on education of girls for enhancing the women’s literacy rate in the country while seeking to establish its association with the ancient Indian culture that treated the “daan” (bequest) of education as “equivalent to 1,000 acts of punya (piety)”.

Inaugurating the Satya Bharti School at Lordi Dejgara village near Jodhpur, Ms. Patil said Indian culture accorded the status of guru (sage) to the teacher. “It is incumbent upon the teachers to become a role model for children. They should inculcate in themselves the qualities they want to see among the students.”

The school in the village, 40 km from Jodhpur, is the first in a series of 500 primary and 50 senior secondary-cum-vocational training schools to be established across the country by the Bharati Foundation – the philanthropic arm of telecom major Bharti Enterprises – to impart quality education to underprivileged children in the rural areas.

Ms. Patil pointed out that though the literacy rate in the country was 64.8 per cent, only 54.1 per cent of the women are literate. “A lot needs to be done in the field of education. Every effort should be made to educate girls as this will help educate their entire families,” she said.

“An educated woman can ensure better upbringing of a child. She can give better culture, high moral value and can motivate a child for high goals. In this way, a woman can make an immense contribution to the progress of the society as well as the country,” said the President, while asking the children to attend school regularly.

Ms. Patil called upon the parents, especially mothers, to send their children to school and encourage their neighbours to do the same. “When a child attends school, it helps in the development of his personality. He becomes sincere and obedient and gets encouragement for team work.”

The Bharti Foundation’s flagship Satya Bharti school programme is aimed at benefiting over 2 lakh children across the country by giving them access to quality education. It is an innovative public-private partnership model in the area of education.

Rajan Bharti Mittal of Bharti Enterprises said at the inaugural ceremony that the schools would provide free primary education, mid-day meals, books and stationery and uniforms to students. The curriculum is designed to help children acquire skills to “explore, question and reason”.

Ms. Patil later unveiled a statue of noted jurist L. M. Singhvi outside Jainarain Vyas University in Jodhpur and addressed a function commemorating his contributions to the public life. Mr. Singhvi’s son, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, was among those present.

Ms. Patil left for Jaipur in the afternoon as part of her two-day visit to Rajasthan.