Amravati (Maharashtra): President Pratibha Patil on 8th of January, 2010 said the country's education system should be more inclusive and qualitative to face the challenges of the 21st century.
"The current challenge is to improve the quality of our education at all levels, and enhance its reach to that it becomes more inclusive," the President observed.
She was delivering the 26th Annual Convocation address at the Sant Gagde Baba Amravati University here.
The President said that the 11th Five Year Plan has given larger focus and financial aid to higher education with the triple objective of expansion, inclusion and excellence.
"These are important measures which must be implemented with a sense of urgency - the entire education system as a whole and every constituent unit - must focus on how these three objectives can be achieved," Patil said.
Commenting on the country's literacy rate which stands at 64.8 percent, she said that the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) at the school level is 73 percent which plummets to just 11 percent in highereducation - as compared to 54 percent in developed countries.
"We need to increase all these percentages and ensure that all sections of society are a part of a knowledge thrust. Development will be sustainable only when it does not leave behind any section of society and the benefits ofeducation are reflected in all spheres," she pointed out.
The President said that experts are required in large numbers across different fields, ranging from rural development to scientists and for this, theeducation system must be broad-based and multi-dimensional.
Without referring to the spate of student suicides that have rocked the state education system, the President said that universities are centres of learning and there should be "a congenial environment for learning and preparing the youth to face the challenges and responsibilities of the future".
Stressing on relevance of education, she said that after they complete their education, the students should be able to pursue their careers and earn through a vocation or a job.
For this, the universities must strive to design their courses which orient students' development so as to make them employable and give them the confidence to be enterprising enough to undertake income-generating activities or self-employment.
Addressing the students, President Patil asked them to take a pledge that they would uphold the dignity of women and firmly oppose female feticide, child marriage, dowry, shun drugs and alcohol and participate in social outreach programmes which benefit the local communities.
"Graduation should not be looked as the end of a journey, rather, the spirit should be that it is the beginning of a mission full of challenges where the knowledge and skills acquired shall be put to test," said President Patil.