Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon that you can use to change the world.” Even decades after he made this statement, the relevance of his words still resonates in our seemingly modern society. Most of us consider education as a tool to achieve a ‘higher state of knowledge’; but instead, it should be perceived as a tool that can equip our children to step out into the world and shape it for themselves. It should be perceived as a tool that can eliminate poverty, inequality, illnesses and, at the same time, be able to generate employment, create a sustainable planet while promoting peace and harmony.
For me, education is an investment, and in fact, one of the most crucial investments that we can make. This is true not only for India but to all the developed, and developing countries around the world. Education should be the new currency by which countries maintain their economic competitiveness, which in turn can drive global prosperity. My words are backed by a report by the World Bank, which states that “every country that sustained high growth for longer periods put substantial efforts into educating its citizens and thereby enriching its human capital.”
Our country’s road to progress in this century hinges on our success in harnessing the power of education and making it accessible to each and every individual. For a developing country like ours, education can be that silver bullet which can help us overcome our social and economic hurdles. However, in our quest to find that silver bullet we should not overlook the fact that increasing literacy rates and quality of education is a slow and tedious process. The results won’t be evident overnight and the efforts that we put in today will only bear fruit in the coming decades.
That being said, India is on the right track. The universalisation of our primary and secondary school education through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan program has significantly improved our country’s literacy rate. The program has also strengthened the existing infrastructure by providing additional classrooms, toilets, drinking water, play equipment, etc. all of which have resulted in higher attendance, lower dropout rates and better adoption in rural areas.
Although the role of our government in spearheading the educational transformation of India is critical, the collective efforts of NGO’s, and charity organisations cannot be ignored. We at Rotary International, are also actively pursuing an ambitious project that could expedite our nation’s educational targets. The Rotary India Literacy Mission (RILM), formerly known as Rotary South Asia Society for Development and Cooperation (RSAS), aims to make India fully literate, or at least 95% literate by 2025. It’s a challenging task, but with the help of the right tools and individuals, RILM’s plans can reach fruition. To conclude, I firmly believe that the future of our country rests on the shoulders of its children. I say this because education can empower our children to grow up into intelligent and responsible individuals who can go on to make the world a better place for all.