Azim Premji University Karnataka: An Educational Necessity

This article is an analysis of the proposed Azim Premji University, Bangalore, Karnataka.

Education is the need of the hour. Education is what lays the foundation of the career of an individual, an individual who will go on to contribute to the growth of society at large. That education requires erstwhile professionals who can teach not just in the formal sense, but also informally help in the development of the individual. However, without proper skills, the educator will fall short. It is these skills that the proposed Azim Premji University, Karnataka(APU) aims to instil.

Whenever a new project comes up, there are bound to be critics. So it is not surprising to hear the cacophony of protests about the proposed Azim Premji University (APU). Some say that it will be a university for the 'elite'; others claim the Azim Premji University cannot really prove its credibility, that it has no 'history'.

Let's consider these two main criticisms of Azim Premji University
1. Tag of Elitist: Dileep Ranjekar, chief executive officer, Azim Premji Foundation, had made it clear in an interview with the Times of India that "We have not yet decided on the fee structure but a guiding principle will be to encourage students from all socio-economic classes". This makes it obvious that the University is not just going to attract so-called elite students but students from all strata of the Indian society.

Further, the Azim Premji University will have a residential campus. This will surely strengthen familial bonds between the students as well as students and the teaching faculty, thereby becoming a hub of socio-cultural development. So the tag of elitist just won't stick!

2. No background of credibility: The Azim Premji Foundation itself is proof that what Aziz Premji preaches, he does; that the visions he has, he implements. He set up this foundation in 2001 as a non-profit organisation to provide quality universal education to all; primarily in rural areas where government schools are providing elementary education. The Azim Premji Foundation has done a good job of providing quality education through this scheme. It is more than sufficient proof of Aziz Premji's integrity and determination to see a project reach its goals.

It is unclear why there is such a lot of opposition to the establishment of the Azim Premji University. After all, it is not that it will be funded by the Government or by the general public. On the contrary, it will be completely self-financed. As for the management, that, too, has been made clear at the outset: The administration will primarily comprise of a Board of Governors which will include 2 Secretaries in charge of the departments of education, while the other officials in charge will be non-Governmental people.

Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa is a strong supporter of the Azim Premji University. As he pointed out, investors will get shooed away if Azim Premji is denied his vision.

However, it is not just investment in the growth of the State that is at stake here. What is at stake is the very core of an individual's development: education. What's more, if a man of integrity like Azim Premji cannot be trusted to do the right thing, then whom to trust at all?!


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