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'We intend training people to make policy decisions'

Bibhu Ranjan Mishra 

Dileep Ranjekar

The Karnataka government’s decision to promote private universities in the state prompted Wipro chairman Azim Premji funded not-for-profit organisation Azim Premji Foundation to propose one such university. This, when cleared, will be the first private university in the state. Dileep Ranjekar, CEO of the Foundation, shares the roadmap with Bibhu Ranjan Mishra. Edited excerpts:

Where do you plan to have the varsity?
If Karnataka finally passes the Bill, and empowers us to start the private university, then the location will be Bangalore.

What was the inspiration behind this concept?
The biggest issue that has actually promoted us to think about the varsity is 'why is that there is no university that is focussed on elementary education in the country'. We observed that we don't have people with professional backgrounds in this country to address issues pertaining to the education sector. Hence, this university will be very similar to the national law school which was launched primarily to create professional lawyers in the country. The university will engage itself in educating professionals who, in turn, will be required for building the capabilities of teachers and managers as educators. Besides, we intend to train people who will make policy decisions based on their knowledge about education.

What courses you plan to offer?

Other than creating trained educational professionals, we plan to offer a post-graduate (MA) programme in education initially. We will also launch several short-term courses which will actually be targeted at in-service development needs of education managers, teacher educators and teachers. The second important activity is research, because research is lacking in education in India. The university will focus sharply on research on several issues to understand how things works; what causes better learning; how do we develop better people and what makes an effective teacher. There are hundreds of such issues. It will also have some experimental labs as part of the university. We also intend to collaborate with a number of states across the country to help them through education resource centres.

Since it will be a self-financing university, will students bear the cost?
Essentially it will be borne by the students. But where the students can't afford, we will have a scholarship programme.

How much funding have you received from Azim Premji for the Foundation so far?
We have earmarked close to Rs 650 crore so far, and this has been entirely funded by Azim Premji. We work with the government and we leverage the funds which we spend. The leverage is very important because the state has really the strength. Because anybody else spending money on the education is going to be very minuscule. The Foundation works with the government which is responsible for schooling. We work with close to about 20,000 schools across the country.

Will the UGC recognise the courses being offered by the university?
The university that comes into existence through a state legislation, will automatically be a recognised university. We don't have to approach the UGC for this.

First Published: Mon, June 22 2009. 00:22 IST
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