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Azim Premji to have 1300 free schools by 2025


The Azim Premji Foundation (APF), run by Wipro chairman on his own money, plans to start 1,300 schools across the country- two per district - which will be free, impart education in the local language and be affiliated to the state board.

The APF schools, from preschool to class 12, will function on the lines of government ones but provide quality education to poor students. "Quality education is fundamental to our becoming a developed nation. And the final crucible of learning is the classroom," says Azim Premji.

Wipro's idea of starting 1,300 schools came after the Azim Premji Foundation recently reviewed its work from 2001, the year in which it was set up. "We felt the need to graduate from programme interventions to institution-building," says Dileep Ranjekar, APF's CEO.

In this Rs 9,000-crore project, the schools will focus on the overall development of their students, including their health and nutrition. "The attempt is also to establish schools in corners that are currently educationally under-served and not to compete with existing schools, whether public or private," says Ranjekar, adding that seven schools will start within a year-and-a-half in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh. If things go as forecast, all the 1,300 schools should be up and running by 2025.

The aim behind the schools is two-pronged. "One is to build social pressure for other schools to follow suit and provide quality education. Two, we want to understand what it takes to deliver quality teaching and learning. One cannot tell the world to improve unless one actually leads by example," says Ranjekar.

A focal aim of the foundation is to get each school to evolve, over time, as a development centre integrated with the community. Thus, the schools will be staffed with teachers from the rural areas, but appointed after written tests and an interview.

"Emphasis will be placed on their expertise in the subject, their understanding of pedagogy and their social orientation. Parents of the children will be important partners in the process of development," says Ranjekar.

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APF schools

Excellent motive behind the innovative initiative. Finding the right teachers is likely to be an uphill task. I have recently retired from the prominent Stella Maris college in Chennai after heading the chemistry department. I would like to be involved in any way I can, in this noble cause.

Posted By: ms sathian
Dated: Tuesday, November 08, 2011

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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