25 Feb :Stressing on an inclusive approach to address problems of inequality in education, President Pratibha Patil favoured creation of a special revolving fund to help underprivileged children get higher studies.
Nobody should be denied education on account of lack of financial resources, Patil said at the inaugural function of the sub-regional conference of South, South-West and Central Asia on Higher Education.
"We often speak about inequalities that exist in higher education. Inequalities can be corrected by following inclusive approaches in the overall policy framework which provides opportunities for talent to blossom," she said.
The President advocated starting a national talent search process at the middle school level for identifying deserving and meritorious students from underprivileged background who should be supported for higher education.
"A special revolving fund should be created from which loans at no interest are given to them for pursuing higher education and which they can return after they start earning," she said.
She said the country would stand to lose if the meritorious students from the underprivileged sections are deprived of higher education.The President also expressed concern over drug consumption among students.
"Drugs debilitate life and when students take to drugs they are drawn away from academic and intellectual pursuits, often disturbing campus life. There should be a campaign to make students aware of the ill effects of drug consumption," she said.
Emphasising on values in education, she said, "different faiths, languages, ethnicities, races that exist in the world should come together as a garland of peace. This requires that we must have respects and tolerance for each other’s views and backgrounds".
Patil said higher education should make proper use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to spread its reach.
"We should use ICT to reach the last of the untaught, particularly in the rural areas. ICT can be used for adopting better teaching and learning practices and can enhance the sharing of available resources, in terms of books, journals, learning materials," she observed.
Many countries, particularly the developing countries, face a shortfall in skilled manpower, she said.
"To fill these gaps increased financial outlays on education are necessary. The international community, including UNESCO, should support the developing countries in their national efforts by making available financial resources," Patil said.
The President also said there should be increase in participation of women in higher education and more opportunities for women in higher education and ensure their fullest participation.
She remembered India’s excellence in education in ancient times and said collaborations among educational institutions in the region will help promote friendship and understanding between nations.