President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday said education can play an important role in overcoming prejudices and that it needs to go beyond mere literacy. "We need to evaluate and evolve the premise, goals and structure of our education system. Education needs to go beyond mere literacy. It must facilitate and challenge the young to search deep within themselves and build their inner strength to sympathise or relate to the suffering of others," he said.
The President was speaking at the World Youth Conference on Kindness organised by the Unesco Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) along with the O.P. Jindal Global University.
"We need to educate young people such that they can defy and transcend boundaries of class and race. We need them to be educated and creative to find solutions to entrenched structural injustices and inequities. We need an education that can touch our emotions and our spirits," he added.
Kovind said that on October 2 we will celebrate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. "His values are very relevant for us, Gandhi was born in India but belonged to the entire humanity," he said.
"Mahatma Gandhi was not just a great leader and visionary, he was one who personified certain timeless ideals and values. We could place Gandhiji in a time machine and transport him to any period of human existence and we would find him to be relevant. This is also true of the times we live in. Gandhiji remains extremely relevant to our present-day concerns such as the need for peace and tolerance, terrorism and climate change," he said.
The President said that the strife and violence that we see in the world today is often based in deep-rooted prejudices. These make us see the world through the binary of "us versus them".
"Following Gandhiji's footsteps, we must let ourselves and our children interact and engage with those whom we tend to define as 'them'. Greater interaction is the best way to develop a sensitive understanding, which can help us overcome our prejudices," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Human Resources Development (HRD) Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' expressed his willingness in protecting the environment, eradicating poverty, empowering women, raising the standard of living, and improving health through quality education. He appealed to youth leaders across the world to contribute to making a better world based on Gandhian values.