one of the youngest nations in the world today. We have great potential, but a
far greater responsibility. Tomorrow, the world will judge us by how we harness
this tremendous energy at our disposal.
When the Congress took charge, in 2004, we knew
universal education had to be our national priority. In 2010, we kept the
promise we had made to the nation. We enacted The Right to Education Act, which
made education the legal right of every child in India.
The RTE Act laid the foundation for India's
future and has already changed the lives of children across the country.
The RTE Act requires all private schools to
reserve 25 per cent seats for children from the most underprivileged sections
of our society. It ensures that no child shall be held back or expelled until
the completion of elementary education. It also provides for special training
of school drop outs to bring them at par with others of their age.
Since RTE act over 2.14
lakh Primary and over 1.76 lakh Upper Primary schools have been sanctioned
under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan(SSA). In 2012-13, UPA government sanctioned Rs.
23,836 crore for SSA ' a jump of nearly 8.7 times from NDA's sanction of Rs
2,730 crore in 2003-04.
Over 9.94 crore children were supplied free
text books in 2012, besides free uniforms for all girls belonging to SC/ST and
UPA, the mid-day meal program has provided nourishment to more than 11 crore
children. In 2012-13, we set aside Rs. 11,937 crore for the project, bridging
the massive gap the NDA government had left with its Rs. 1,325 crore allocation
Our efforts to improve access to, and quality
of, education have enabled an increasing number of children to attend school. As
evidence of this, the Gross Enrolment Ratio at the middle school level has
increased from 58.6% in 2000-01 to 85.5 per cent in 2010-11.
We have provided equal attention to higher education. The number of central universities increased from 17 in 2004 to 44 in 2013, and the number of IIT's and IIM's have more than doubled. Nine new IITs and seven new IIMs have opened since we started working on improving this sector ten years back. Literacy rates have improved significantly as a result of these efforts, increasing from 64.84 per cent in 2001 to 74.04 per cent in 2011.
Our aim is to create an education system that is not restricted by old structures. Rather we want a system encourages new ideas and inspires our young to give their best. In this mission, will need the support everyone, especially the youth who are the country's future.