Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singhs address at the inaugural function of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, in New Delhi:
I am very happy to participate in this inaugural function of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan. Let me begin by extending my very warm greetings and felicitations to the teachers and students of Kendriya Vidyalayas, and the staff of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS).
Beginning with 20 Regimental schools at the time of its establishment in 1963, KVS now administers about 1100 Kendriya Vidyalayas, spread over all parts of our vast country. It imparts education to about 11 lakh children and employs more than 46000 people. The organization has discharged its responsibility of providing quality education to the children of transferable Central government employees with great distinction. Its journey of 50 years has indeed been a very rewarding one. I congratulate all those who have enabled KVS to contribute so handsomely to the processes of nation building.
It must be a very heartening thought for all those associated with the KVS that there is tremendous demand for additional Kendriya Vidyalayas in different parts of our country. And admission into the existing schools is extremely competitive. This is a pointer to the high standards of teaching that the KVS system has maintained. I understand that the students of Kendriya Vidyalayas have consistently performed well in the examinations conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education. Not only this, these schools have also been conscious of the need for personality development of their students by emphasizing on their participation in extra-curricular activities.
I am particularly happy to know the proportion of girl students in Kendriya Vidyalayas being 43 percent, and that women constitute the majority among teachers of the KVS system.
A good number of Kendriya Vidyalayas are now located on the campuses of Defence and Paramilitary establishments. This helps in taking care of the educational needs of the children of Defence and Paramilitary personnel, whose arduous duties often leave them little time for their families.
Our government has always recognized that India can emerge as a modern, progressive and prosperous country only when our citizens have access to good quality education. We know that our country is a young country and we can reap the demographic dividend only if we have an educated and skilled workforce that would help our economy to expand and become more productive.
Ever since our government came to power in 2004, we have laid special emphasis on education. We have increased investment in education on an unprecedented scale. We have rapidly expanded access to education. We have worked to improve the quality of teaching to enable better learning outcomes. We have endeavoured to ensure that students from the weaker sections of our society and the less developed regions of our country also get adequate access to educational opportunities.
Today, access to Primary Education in our country is almost universal. The Right to Education Act ensures that every child in our country has the right to eight years of Elementary Education. The Mid Day Meal scheme, which provides hot meals in schools to about 11 crore children every day, has contributed to improved retention outcomes in our schools. But, the standard of teachers and teaching is not up to the mark, and learning outcomes are far below what we want them to be. Drop-out rates in schools remain high after the elementary level. Some major concerns relating to equity also remain to be addressed.
As we move forward in tackling these challenges in the 12th Five-Year Plan, Kendriya Vidyalayas can help in a major way in setting standards and benchmarks for schools that are situated in the area around them. This is one of the roles envisaged for Kendriya Vidyalayas in the 12th Five-Year Plan. They should act as role models for neighbourhood schools, mentoring them and sharing best practices with them. I would urge the KVS system to find ways and means of effectively fulfilling these expectations.
I am very happy that KVS has taken a number of new initiatives to keep pace with the rapidly changing realities around us. These include use of Information Technology in imparting education, exchange programmes for teachers and students with foreign countries and teaching of foreign languages. These are all commendable steps that would help Kendriya Vidyalayas in improving their standards. But much more needs to be done as KVS strives towards excellence. I would expect KVS to embrace change boldly wherever it is needed, particularly in the use of modern techniques and technology.
I would like to end by wishing the KVS family all the very best for the future.
I am sure you will use these Golden Jubilee celebrations to also reflect on how you can further improve upon your already distinguished record. May God bless your path.