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Published in the 16-31 Dec 2003 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Ailing factors of primary education

Wipro chairman AZIM HASHAM PREMJI is a risk-taking businessman. By his own admission not an educationist nor a scholar, but a risk-taking businessman knows what ails primary education in India on low enrollments and high level of dropouts. He showed what was wrong with the system and set about suggesting measures to correct it. 

Delivering his speech on the occasion of the 35th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture he said that poverty can be eliminated and socio-economic conditions of the country can be improved through the quality of learning. Low literacy rate is said to be the cause of above variable, but he says, "it is like the double helix of the DNA, never complete in itself but complete together, the DNA of education runs on two strands of quality and access." 

He insisted to actualise the priority of education and its issues rather than keeping it confined to discourses. He advised to eliminate the primary education system in India of rote and note that this bring out weak in creating, thinking, discovering and learning. His guiding principle is about character at the core. 

The Wipro chief elucidates that character is destiny and the character of an individual, an organisation or a society is the most important determinant of success. Premji highlighted six major points for the best education system: Schools need to identify and eradicate elements of threat, right learning, environment ought to be contextual to the learner and to the community, learning should be interesting, need to recognise the importance of individual learning, parting integrative and wholesome learning from which will emerge skills that a child ought to develop during the process. 

The visionary business tycoon said India with its population, will be the powerhouse of the most important resource the productive human spirit and will be ahead of every other nation. Like the neighbouring China, his philosophy of men power is worth noticing. We need to take his words seriously.

Manzar Imam & Jamilur Rahman

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