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‘Institution's performance depends on principal'

Staff Reporter
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The Hindu – Newspaper in Education organises Principals' Meet

Dileep Ranjekar, Chief Executive Officer, Azim Premji Foundation, interacts with school principals at The Hindu - NIE Principals' Meet in Bangalore on Friday. — Photo: K. Murali Kumar
Dileep Ranjekar, Chief Executive Officer, Azim Premji Foundation, interacts with school principals at The Hindu - NIE Principals' Meet in Bangalore on Friday. — Photo: K. Murali Kumar

Principals can make or break a school and an institution's performance depends on people who lead it. It was with this remark that Dileep Ranjekar, Chief Executive Officer, Azim Premji Foundation, began his talk at the Principals' Meet organised by The Hindu – Newspaper in Education, here on Friday.

Speaking on “Leadership in building a nation through quality education”, he said that the biggest differentiating factor between a performing and a non-performing school was the school leader (principal or headmaster/mistress), only followed by extent of utilisation of teaching-learning material in school, literacy level of parents and quality and frequency of interactions between parents and schools.

He said that school leaders had to grapple with several challenges, including inequality, injustice and lack of human and care for environment.

Mr. Ranjekar said that these were challenges that affected all. “We have to take a call on what is good for humanity, environment and society,” he added. He said that there was a serious disconnect with what we intend to do and what we do. “The Education Policy of 1986 and National Curriculum Framework are both well-intentioned and well articulated. It envisages our children to have scientific temper, be team players, have leadership qualities, etc. But there is a disconnect and we need to remedy that,” he said.

He said that assuming 100 children join class one, only around 39 reach the level of class 10. Of these, only 19 pass class 10. This number will see a drop further in class 12 and only 10 will probably pursue higher education.

“During an interaction with the Government, we learnt that just 2,000 students were pursuing science education in the State. Where will we find science teachers for schools? Why are we not able to attract top class people in education?” he asked.

He added that it was unfortunate that there was no professional education for the position of school leaders in this country, given that it is such a critical role.

“This is when we have to question what kind of teaching professionals we make. We are very poor in terms of conceptual and analytical thinking,” he said.

Mr. Ranjekar said that the whole examination system drives school behaviour after the eighth standard. “When we analysed 10 {+t} {+h} standard examination papers for the past five years in five States, we found that there were no questions that assessed the child's analytical and application of knowledge,” he said.

‘Factories'

Schools often become factories. “We have no clue on how much tension and stress we create in children. These days, children studying in class one have stress. Four year olds have homework. I was lucky in a way. I refused to go to school till I was seven years old. But this did not affect my reading and writing, which I learnt without stress at home,” he said.

He said that the top role of the principal is to help the child, school and teacher to realise their potential. The broader goal is to build processes to achieve this.

V. Jayanth, Senior Assistant Editor, The Hindu , and Babu Vijay, Regional General Manager (Circulation) of the newspaper, were present.

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