Voicing concern over poor levels of student learning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday pitched for continuous assessment of benefits derived by children through education besides tracking attendance.
Addressing ‘Teacher Awardees’ on the eve of Teacher’s Day, Dr Singh said the last eight years had seen a significant increase in enrolment of children in primary schools and a decline in the gender gap in elementary education.
“However, the poor levels of student learning remain a major concern. Therefore, as we move ahead we need a clear shift in our strategy from a focus on inputs, access and enrolment to what goes on in the classroom and the school,” Dr Singh said.
He said there was a need to set up transparent and reliable systems for tracking attendance of children in a truly meaningful way.
“At the same time, we need to put in place a system of continuous assessment of the benefit our children are getting from their education. Participation of the community and parents would be essential in this process, so that they can be satisfied with the quality of teaching,” the Prime Minister said.
Dr Singh said there was a significant reduction in socio-economic inequalities in access to education and a narrowing of the gap between SCs/STs, minorities and other social groups.
He said the government has substantially increased public spending on education since 2004-05.
The Prime Minister said education expenditure as a percentage of the GDP has increased from 3.3 per cent in 2004-05 to four per cent in 2011-12.
Per capita public expenditure on education has increased from Rs 888 in 2004-05 to Rs 2,985 in 2011-12, he said, adding that the enhanced outlays have helped in a massive expansion of the educational infrastructure and sanction of additional posts of teachers on a large scale.
Dr Singh said teachers have to be an integral part of policy-making, governance and management, as also of day-to-day instructional strategies and decision making.
“The empowerment of teachers that includes real opportunity for them to share policy perspectives and decision-making will have to be the key component of the educational reform process,” he said.
The Prime Minister said as teachers, the state looked to them to guide the children of the country in their quest for knowledge and truth.
“Through you, we aspire to build in our children a commitment to the values of democracy, and the values of equality, social justice, freedom, secularism, and respect for human dignity,” he said.
“I urge you to develop in children independence of thought and action and the capacity for taking carefully considered decisions. Through you, our children should also develop a sensitivity to the well-being and feelings of others and also the ability to work and participate in the processes of social and economic change,” Dr Singh said.