Education is lifelong learning–to learn, to live and to survive,” according to former President APJ Abdul Kalam. “We have to ask ourselves whether we have these three components of education.” It was a pertinent query and, by raising it, the eminent scientist set the tone for the two-day ‘ThinkEdu Conclave: Schooling India for Tomorrow’.
The former President took the lead in setting the focus and agenda for discussion through the Conclave. “Primary education is the source of education and reforming primary education is vital for empowering education,” he said. It was a walk down memory lane for Dr Kalam as he stressed the key role that teachers play in transforming students into leaders and recalled his own high school mentors, who injected in him–at the age of 11–an interest that lasted lifelong. “I realised that I should pursue something to do with flying.”
He repeatedly emphasised the importance of teachers, and said they who must be visionaries and figures of inspiration. Only such role models, he said, could bring about a transformation in a child from him or her asking ‘What can you do for me? ’ to ‘What can I do for you?’
The former scientist also exhorted the assembled experts to review the type of capacity-building that takes place in schools and colleges. “Students must be inculcated with the capacities for research or inquiry, for creativity and innovation, to use high technology, entrepreneurial leadership and moral leadership to turn them into nation-builders.”
His final call was for the framing of a national policy aimed at creating a “global human resource cadre” in India: an army of youth equipped with special skills and higher education. “Evolution of such a policy in a time-bound manner will generate quality, knowledge and skills needed by all sectors of the Indian economy and globally employable employable services,” he pointed out.
He also exhorted the corporate and banking sectors to particpate in the process by way of adopting schools and providing loans to potential entrepreuners.
By way of closing, the former President spelt out the ultimate goal of learning: “Real education enhances the dignity of a human being and increases his or her self-respect. If only the real sense of education could be realised in each individual, the world will be so much a better place to live in.” No one could have said it better.