Kapil Sibal on “Education and Social Change”

25th May 2011
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Kapil Sibbal

Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) has been a pioneer in the field of management since its inception. It contributes to the management profession and the society through its various educational, training and research activities. It was set up under the aegis of Vikram Sarabhai. AMA is an independent, non-profit, registered charitable institution and a Society.As a part of the Vikram Sarabhai Lecture series, Kapil Sibal, Honorable Union Minister, Human Resource Development, Government of India was invited to deliver a lecture on “Education and Social Change”. This 31st Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture was delivered to a packed house at J.B. Auditorium, AMA Complex.

Mr. Sibal took the huge audience through the various phases pertaining to education and society; beginning with the scenario during India’s independence, the present scenario, the changes that have come about, his objectives and the major challenges that the country faces comprised the major portion of his lecture.

He stated that while 12% of a population of nearly 300 million Indians during independence where literate, India now has 74% of its population literate of a total of 1.2 billion. Although the figures show a huge improvement, it is nothing to be proud of as education is the primary need of any nation in order to develop. He envisions the goal of Mr. C.K.Prahlad who aimed at having 500 million skilled people and 250 million graduates when India turns 75 (i.e. in 2022).

He talked about the huge investments happening in India in all the major fields including but not limited to infrastructure, healthcare, automobiles, manufacturing and IT. One of the major points he mentioned was the lack of skilled labour in India’s possession. To provide the best of the products and services to each and every citizen of India, there will be a need for more and more skilled laborers whose present ratio is an abominable 1.4% out of the total laborers.

A skeptic upon being asked after the lecture said, “India does boast about being a young country which is definitely true but a major chunk of this young India is uneducated. And out of the 10% of the total youth that manages to graduate, hardly 20% of all graduates are directly employable.” To fill the gap between the aspirations of the Indians and the reality of India, Mr. Sibal said, we need to change the entire culture of education. We need to create an ecosystem where the syllabi is decided by the practicing preachers and driven by the industrial need. A much broader outlook is the need of the hour. A huge round of applause cheered his belief about democracy, “Every Child should have the required choice in a classroom”. The pillars of education: access, equity and quality can be improved only by improving the Gross Enrollment ratio into schools and colleges. And this is what the Harvard alumni promised. One more radical step which would be taken pretty soon according to Mr.Sibal is to provide vocational courses to school students which would enable them to have more flexibility and will not shut them out from college in the future. These kinds of lectures go a long way in keeping the citizens of the nation informed and help the community to come together to bring about all round upliftment.

Kapil Sibal can be reached at kapilsibal@hotmail.com

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