Adolescents in the country need immediate attention in terms of their educational needs, Human Resource Development Minster Kapil Sibal said here on Tuesday. “Education is the key to address the problems that our adolescents are facing. Schools play the most crucial role to address these problems, hence teachers are central in reaching out to children,” Sibal said. The minister was addressing the South Asian regional conference on learning and developmental needs of out-of-school adolescents. The event was organized in the capital by Plan India and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO). “For out-of-school children, it is important that the teacher training includes mapping of problems of adolescents and addressing them,” added Sibal. Sibal linked technology with the educational needs of children in urban as well as rural areas. “Communication technology will play a big role now as panchayats and schools will be connected with fibre optics. The focus should be on empowering girls, especially because they are excluded at various levels. Education should be able to give them the ability to make choices,” Sibal, also the communications minister, said. The three-day conference that commenced Tuesday will see participation from seven South Asian countries – India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan. “Our aim is to discuss the needs of the adolescents as they are the most difficult group to reach out. Out-of-school adolescents are mostly school drop-outs involved in labour work. They need educational, financial, and health support for holistic development,” said Bhagyashri Dengle, executive director of Plan India, a voluntary organisation. “We will discuss successful models for development to formulate recommendations that will be presented to the planning commission,” added Dengle. South Asian countries, including India, have more than 45 percent of population in the age group of 15-35 years.