Chairman, Aditya Birla Group
In his voluminous work, The Outline of
History, H.G. Wells, the renowned historian
(early 20th century) writes, "Human
history becomes more and more a race between
education and catastrophe."
later, Prof. Amartya Sen at the Commonwealth
Education Conference in Edinburgh, continued
the refrain. He said, "If we continue
to leave vast sections of the people of
the world outside the orbit of education,
we make the world not only less just but
also less secure."
one asks the question — what is it
that can empower our nation, today reckoned
as one of the intellectual capitals of the
world? the most obvious answer is education.
both Wells and Prof. Sen remark, though
distanced by over a century in time, education
truly is the stairway to progress and to
a stable world. This means education in
its widest sense. Education that enhances
livelihoods but also education that is value-based.
Education that imparts roots and also gives
As one reflects on the state of education in our country, glaring disparities come to the fore. There is a clear divide. Even as India's higher education system has won the admiration of the world, the state of primary education in our country remains a deep concern.
Of the 100 million children worldwide who rightfully should be at primary schools, but are out of it, 20 million belong to India. These children are in the age group of 6 to 14 and 60 per cent are girls. There are socio-economic reasons, disheartening as they are, such as poverty.
The only way to transform this scenario is to educate them. It is the key to the attainment of sustainable development on all fronts.
There is a need to re-examine our educational system in a holistic way. My focus here is on firstly the need for a research orientation in our universities and secondly — a redefining of the system. I am not an educationist per se. Still education is a subject which is close to my heart.
India's production of professionals is awesome. I believe we have over 300 universities, nearly 20,000 colleges which produce 2.5 million graduates every year.
Our IITians and MBAs from the IIMs and select management institutes occupy responsible positions in the best of corporates and research centres world over. But our universities are not at the forefront of cutting edge research. In Russia, Israel and even Japan and now China research is encouraged. Universities have adopted the 'star system'. This, I believe, ensures that salaries and research funding for star academics is on par with the best in industry.
though it is believed that pay is hardly a
major consideration for the academically oriented,
in my view it would attract a lot more high-calibre
intellectuals. To create centres of excellence
and enable our academic institutions to rise
above mediocrity, is a felt-need. The one-size
fits all approach hitherto followed should
give way to an innovative system. One of the
stumbling blocks apparently is financial resources.
To overcome this hurdle, the best corporates
could inject funds into universities, with
the authorities smoothening the passage and
spawn a dynamic knowledge sector that is vibrant,
exciting and a portal of true knowledge.
reach this state, the basics have to be changed.
This calls for a paradigm shift, nothing short
of revamping our educational system.
our education system puts our students on
a process-line that churns out the same
kind of model day in and day out. It makes
no distinction between learners, which itself
is not ideal. I dream of an education system
for India that would help each student reach
her maximum potential. Implying that each
individual is running a race with himself
or herself, to be the best she or he possibly
can, to hone the talents she or he has,
such that they are empowered with a strong
sense of self, and to acquire new skills
that will help build as all-rounded a personality,
as possible. This is contrarian to the trend
today. The system puts so much of stress
on both parents and students as they strive
to secure over 90 per cent to enter the
portals of the most competitive academic
need an attitudinal shift. We need to differentiate,
to create an educational system that has
options to cater to the different aptitudes
and capabilities of students. The current
system, quite honestly, does not equip students
with real and contemporary skills that can
make her a winner.
countries in the West and in Europe have
evolved models that give students an option
as early as their secondary education days.
Students therefore enjoy what they learn
and are hardly stressed. The outcome is
more productive and a happy workforce that
can contribute its mite to the task of nation
believe even parents need to break out of
the mould of desiring more conventional
career paths for their children.
sooner our education system is revamped,
to take cognisance of this fact and the
quicker parents accept this, the better
it would be for a country that needs every
productive mind to rise to its creative
best. The setting up of the Vocational Education
Mission in our country is a step forward.
forward, I envisage the setting up of hundreds
of vocational training centres across the
nation. Coupled with the ITIs, such institutes
would give our youngsters a bouquet of options
from which they can pick and choose, depending
on their aptitudes and capabilities. Additionally,
a panel of experts need to put their heads
together to contemporarise our education
owe this to ourselves and to the future generations
of India. For in the years ahead it will be
the investment in our education process and
our nurturing of our intellectual capital
that will gain primacy for our nation. It
will provide the leading edge. But most importantly,
it will bring in the social equity that we
ardently dream of for our country.
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Dr. Pragnya RamGroup Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSRAditya Birla Management Corporation Private LimitedAditya Birla Centre, 1st Floor, 'C' WingS.K. Ahire Marg, WorliMumbai 400 030.
91-22-6652 5000 /2499 5000
Fax: 91-22-6652 5741/ 42
A US $41 billion corporation, the Aditya Birla Group is in the League of Fortune 500. It is anchored by an extraordinary force of over 120,000 employees, belonging to 42 different nationalities.
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