Azim Premji Foundation was established in 2001 with a vision to contribute to education that facilitates a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. Our approach has been to focus all our resources and efforts on systemic change and improvement in quality of education in the government schools. Consequently, our approach has been to work in partnership with state governments in various states in identified districts over a period of time. The Foundation has been focused on the following key areas while working with the Government:
Teacher Education: Our teacher education programs have sought to build capacity in the existing education functionaries in terms of their perspectives, subject matter knowledge, competencies and motivation levels. Since inception, we have worked with over 50,000 government school teachers across 8 states.
Education Leadership and Management: Educational leadership has a critical role in the transformation of education and the quality of leadership makes a significant difference to school and learning outcomes. We have developed about 3500 education functionaries in the state of Karnataka, including principals of schools in a unique effort involving training of master development facilitators for extended periods of time through classroom training and field projects.
Examination Reforms: It is widely accepted that the current mode of public examination determines the way teaching learning takes place. As a first step, examination reform can address one major criticism of the existing pattern, namely, that it tests rote learning to the neglect of basic competencies or conceptual understanding and application that are supposed to be the objectives of the curriculum. Following our work in this area, about 8 districts in 5 states have changed the way they conduct examinations for students up to 5th standard and the state of Karnataka has introduced external competency based evaluation.
Technology in Education: There is a consistent international trend to
explore and utilise computer aided learning to augment the teaching
-learning processes in the classroom. The Foundation initiated the Computer Aided Learning programme in the year 2002 to harness the potential of computer technology for education. The objectives of the programme were to make learning enjoyable and assessment fun, for all students. To this end, the Foundation created syllabus-based bi/trilingual multimedia content. It is probably the largest developer of Digital Learning Resources that address curricular issues of children from classes 3 to 8 in 18 languages (including four tribal languages). 2.5 million children in 20,000 schools have used these resources across 16 states.
Drawing upon the rich experience at the grassroots level for over a decade, the Foundation has extended, expanded and intensified its work in four distinct areas which synergistically create the possibility of deep, at-scale and sustained impact:
The creation of strong institutions and a robust institutional architecture is essential for long-term sustainability. We have established the following institutions in order to execute our vision. Individually they each have a clear social purpose and their own specific goals, while together they form a well-knit, inter-independent eco-system of institutions.
Azim Premji University has a clear social purpose – to make significant contributions towards a just, equitable, humane and sustainable society. The University aspires to do this through the development of talent and the creation of knowledge which can catalyse systemic change in education and allied development areas. The University has an explicit commitment to the idea that knowledge and learning have human and social consequences and that their pursuit cannot be separated from these consequences.
Azim Premji State and District Institutes are vibrant, high quality centers located in district towns and state capitals of select Indian states. These institutes play a leading role in an institution led approach to catalyzing social change and offer on the ground support in all aspects of education and allied development domains. They are the institutional anchors of education of a district and provide the fulcrum to work in other related domains (such as nutrition, governance etc.) and serve as expertise centers for our schools, affiliated schools and partner activities.
Examples of programs conducted by these institutes include teacher education, education leadership development, assessment reforms, community mobilization and technology deployment. These institutes are currently operational at Chhattisgarh(Dhamtari), Uttarakhand (Uttarkashi, Uddhamsinghnagar), Karnataka (Yadgir), Rajasthan (Sirohi, Tonk) and Puducherry.
IAA is a critical component of Azim Premji Foundation’s mission to have deep, at-scale and institutionalized impact on the quality of education in India. IAA achieves this by spreading awareness of, and creating demand for, assessment / accreditation-driven quality improvements in the system. IAA’s work entails developing holistic standards of excellence for various institutions involved in the educational system; assessing/accrediting institutions against these standards; and facilitating their ongoing improvement.
A limited number of demonstration schools have been established for the specific and limited purposes of providing learning spaces for the University, the IAA and the State/District Institutes and supporting specific elements of the Foundation’s strategy. These schools provide good quality education at costs and under constraints similar to those of rural government schools.
Our first set of schools began operations in mid-2012 and are located in the following states (districts): Uttarakhand (Uddhamsinghnagar, Uttarkashi), Rajasthan (Tonk, Sirohi), Karnataka (Yadgir) and Chattisgarh (Dhamtari). 100 such schools are planned to be established by 2016.
These schools are not intended to supplant or supplement the Government school system in any way – but to help in local capacity building and awareness creation for “quality education”.