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Premji favours changes in education system

By Our Staff Correspondent

BELLARY, DEC. 12. Azim Premji, Chairman of the Azim Premji Foundation, today said: "Unless we make dramatic commitments and changes in the education system, we cannot develop the full potential of the vast talent pool we have in the children of India."

He was speaking here after presenting awards to the best schools and students under the "Learning Guarantee Programme 2004" launched by the foundation.

Crisis

``The current status of learning across the country is in a situation of crisis. It requires bold and innovative approaches by the Government and schools to overcome it," he said.

Education is much more than passing examinations and scoring marks. It is about building character. It is about sowing seeds of values, integrity, empathy and equity. It is also about laying a solid foundation for a society that is just, humane and equitable, offering equal opportunities to all, he said.

There are several issues in the education system and one common complaint of the parents is that despite passing the SSLC examination, their children fail to acquire skills that are important for them in life. "We have students who are unable to make simple calculations at grocery shop. We have students who do not follow simple disciplines on road," Mr. Premji said.

Objective

He said the fundamental objective of the "Learning Guarantee Programme" is to create an atmosphere conducive in schools to learn such skills. Learning that the parents would see as relevant and useful, learning that is beyond textbooks, which is aimed at creating the ability to think, to enhance creativity and problem solving among children are the other objectives of the programme.

He said any form of learning will become more meaningful and effective when it involves the willingness on the part of participants - in this case, teachers and parents - to engage in constant self-appraisal. The evaluation under the programme provides an opportunity for self-appraisal. "I strongly believe that our programmes will be meaningful only if they can be up-scaled and if they yield results in the government system. I was delighted to learn that the Government has decided to expand the programme across the 202 blocks in the State and provided resources for the same,'' he added.

``I am confident that all of you recognise the role that we have to play in contributing to creating such a society and making the world a better place to live in,'' he said.

Mr. Premji and his wife, Yasmin, Director of the programme, gave away prizes to 82 schools in seven districts of north Karnataka and children.

Vijay Bhaskar, Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, and Sanjiv Kumar, Commissioner for Public Instruction, spoke.

K.C. Kondaiah, MLC, and A. Manaiah, Chairman of the Standing Committee on Health and Education of the Bellary Zilla Panchayat, were present.

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