Talk at ICICI

Ayan at ICICI
I briefly talked to 35 MIT Sloan students who visited ICICI Bank as part of their India Trek. I spoke about Spark and the vision we are pursuing. After the talk, several students expressed interest in what we are doing – perhaps we’ll see them over the summer!

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What is the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’?

The Times of India Poll

The Times of India Reader Poll, March 12 and 13, 2007

There is a dearth of good teachers in India.
YES: 80%
NO: 18%
Can’t Say: 2%

Gyan Shala – the McDonalds of education in India.

The Gyaan Shala is chaired by alumni and professors from the Indian Institute of Management. Gyan Shala aims to

(i) effectively reach children from poor urban and rural families; (ii) replicate on a mass scale while maintaining quality, and (iii) maintain unit cost well within the existing government budgetary norms Ayan and I headed to meet Zalak at the Gyan Shala office in Ahmedabad. We visited 3 schools. The children were extremely bright and were even perhaps trying to “impress” the guests in the classroom. The teachers were passionate, driven, enthused and most importantly motivated. The children reciprocated the efforts of their teachers. Oblivious to the small size of the class room and paying attention only to the large hearted teachers, these children are clearly determined to become successful.

Gyan Shala has successfully gone beyond piecemeal improvements in pedagogy, learning and training material, and teacher training and evolved a `total system solution’ that provides assurance of the delivery of education service of a desired quality. Truly the McDonalds of education in
India.

Mahabalipuram

A rickety taxi ride beckoned as we headed to historic Mahabalipuram. The city was charming and the people extremely warm. We stopped at every possible tea shop on the highway to do research on our Spark Tea concept. The last tea shop was the most memorable. We were offered free chai-biscuit and not allowed to leave until we took photographs with every single family member.!!

Poor want kids in private schools

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1061218/asp/nation/story_7152921.asp

The AC Nielsen survey may vindicate a Planning Commission idea that was vetoed by the Union human resource development ministry: to give parents government money to enable them to send their children to private schools.
The survey, sponsored by the Centre for Civil Society, a voluntary organisation, interviewed teachers at government and private schools and parents with a household monthly income below Rs 5,000.
The AC Nielsen survey revives the debate. “Nearly all parents interviewed liked the voucher concept. Three-fourths of the teachers and nearly 86 per cent of the private schools liked the concept… it gives parents the opportunity to select a school of their choice,” it says