ICT has huge role in attracting children: Azim Premji

Azim Premji shared this thoughts on ICT in education in The Economic Times. An excerpt:

One of the few things on which there is consensus across the entire ideological spectrum in economics and politics is that literacy and education are perhaps the most significant drivers of development and democracy. For societies to improve their literacy levels and the quality of their education, multiple complex factors must be worked upon. Information and communication technology (ICT) can facilitate improvement on several of these dimensions. To me, use of ICT for literacy is almost intuitive, given the challenge of reaching out to large numbers which a country like India faces. ICT provides us an effective tool for connecting with a large number of remotely located learners at a low cost.

My perspective on the use of ICT for education and literacy is based on our interaction with the parents and schools in over 1,300 villages in 2000, through the Azim Premji Foundation. Through these interactions we gained the following perspective: Parental feedback indicates strong demand for computers; they also consider computer interface as an enabler for knowing English; ICT can strengthen our efforts for universalising primary education and; ICT could also be the solution to a uniform high quality of instructions without replacing teachers. But more than that, we learnt that ICT also has a huge role in attracting children to the school, and creating excitement in and around the school.

Continue reading “ICT has huge role in attracting children”


Spark in the Khaleej Times

Spark has been featured in the Khaleej Times

Of small schools and small dollars

An extract:

“Education is indeed a service like any of a very large variety of goods and services provided very efficiently by the market. When we say that markets work it is just as applicable to the provision of education.

For instance, The Spark Group, founded by entrepreneurs from MIT, is creating a branded chain of low-cost schools across India. The schools will be owned and operated by private entrepreneurs. Spark hopes to maximise outcomes of the initiative by harnessing the power of grassroots entrepreneurship.

The model will be to provide a ready-to-run package that comes with everything required to start and operate a low-end school – from curriculum to fee schedule to infrastructure design.

The Spark Group’s plan is to take the entrepreneur from “ink on the contract” to “chalk on the board” in three months. This chain of schools will be adapted for local needs — and yet be integrated under one brand that will be instantly recognised by every poor family in India.

Backed by rigorous academic research from Harvard and MIT, Spark plans to make sustainable investments in schools by providing much-needed resources and value-added services.”

Spark at Ramoji Film City

Spark took a break 🙂 to visit Ramoji Film City on June 20 (Sunday!)

In pic(from left): Nitin, Raman, Aman, Shailesh, Pratham, Sunny, Satyajeet & Asiem

Spark @ Ramoji Film City

Round Table on Innovations in Education

Round Table on Innovation in Education

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public organised a Round Table on Innovations in Education in Hyderabad on June 23, 2007. The Round Table had participants from Ashoka and the Ashoka Fellowship, the Spark Group, the IFMR Trust and ICICI (a key investor in the IFMR Trust and NE Fund). The main objectives of the Round Table were to identify innovative models in education that use sustainable approaches to deliver maximum social impact, to seek out potential partnership opportunities for SPARK and fellows and to identify potential investment opportunities for SPARK/NE Fund.

Links to Photos:

Presentation on Initiatives of The Spark Group

Lisa Heydlauff: Be! An Entrepreneur

Group Discussion to explore innovative models

Balaji (AID) summarizes the next steps


The event began with presentations on initiatives at Ashoka and The Spark Group. After this, each Ashoka Fellow made a presentation on the work they have done. In the second half, there were 2 group discussions – to understand the major constraints to commercial solutions operating at large scale for low income markets, and to propose collaborative solutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Change Looms: Promoting Youth Leadership for Social Change

We are delighted to be selected as a finalist for the AshokaPravah Change Looms program.

CHANGE LOOMS is a program that recognizes, encourages and supports the exceptional achievements of young people who are actively promoting social change in society. It provides in-depth capacity building, mentoring from leading social entrepreneurs across the country, acknowledgement at a public event, and a grant of Rs. 40,000 for outstanding initiatives.

The Change Looms Award is supported by The Youth and Civil Society Initiative of Sir Ratan Tata Trust.

Battle Over Math in New Jersey Drives Off a New Schools Chief

Parents, some involved in a campaign against the math teaching in the highly regarded Ridgewood, N.J., school district, were to have met the new superintendent at a reception last Monday night.

But the reception was abruptly canceled, leaving the school board president to explain that the superintendent, scheduled to begin on July 1 after a nine-month search costing more than $20,000, had backed out, largely because of the escalating math fight.In a statement expressing disappointment, the five-member school board said the recruit, Martin Brooks, had been made to feel unwelcome by “anonymous phone calls, e-mail messages, blogs and Web postings by some community members” that “questioned his integrity, ethics and educational philosophy.”

Continue reading “Battle Over Math in New Jersey Drives Off a New Schools Chief”

‘Super 30’ shine again

Times of India | May 31


Economically and socially backward, they were called ‘Super 30’ since the day they were chosen to be coached to crack IIT-JEE. And wow, they proved they are worth the name with 28 of them making it to IITs while the remaining two – both Dalits – expected to sail through once the results of SC/ST aspirants are out.

It was five years ago that Anand Kumar, a local Maths wizard, along with a senior Bihar IPS officer Abhayanand floated the concept of ‘Super 30’. Thirty promising, albeit poor, IIT aspirants were selected and coached rigorously for eight months ahead of JEE in 2003. Eighteen of them cracked the test. In 2004, 22 of the 30 came out with flying colours. The number of successful candidates increased to 26 in 2005 and 28 in 2006.

“This year we hope to achieve 100 per cent results,” a jubilant Kumar, whose coaching institute in Patna sponsors the 30 aspirants, said and added Alok Kumar and Azad Kumar, the two Dalit aspirants whose names do not figure in the list of successful candidates, will certainly make it when the preparatory results of SC/ST candidates come out. Ten of the ‘Super 30’ aspirants have secured ranks among the top 1,000 successful candidates.

Parents seek school webcam links

BBC News | June 6

Some parents would like a webcam link to their child’s classroom to follow their progress, a study suggests.
One in four adults in a poll of 2,000 for the services website, Directgov, said they wanted an online alert if their child did not turn up for school.

In focus groups linked to a study on the future of online services, some parents even said they wanted transmitters fitted to their children.

The government said the findings showed people wanted to be more involved.

Continue reading “Parents seek school webcam links”

Corruption Damaging Education

BBC News | June 7

Bribery and corruption damage universities and schools across the world, according to a report for the UN’s education wing, Unesco.

The study says education is plagued by rigged tendering processes, academic fraud and bribes over places and posts.

Academic fraud, such as fake degrees, is more common in the United States than in developing countries, it says.

The study of more than 60 countries says that in some, illegal use of funds meant for schools can be very high.

Continue reading “Corruption Damaging Education”