Over 320 students graduated at the 7th convocation of Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar (IIT-Gn) on Saturday. Among these, about 47 students were given awards for excellence in various categories. Anu Aga, chairperson of the non-profit organisation Teach for India (TFI), who was the chief guest at the convocation, addressed mediapersons after the event and stressed on the need to invest in teacher training.
She said, “The RTE Act focuses on inputs — having buildings, toilets — which is essential but that is not education. Quality of education does not depend on infrastructure. You can have a good school under a tree and learn a lot. At the same time the quality of the education at a very fancy school can be bad. Focussing only on good infrastructure will not improve the quality of education.”
“The enrollment, thanks to RTE, has gone up a lot but quality of education has not improved because our teachers’ training institutes churn out really bad teachers. Teaching is not an aspirational profession. The majority of teachers are those who can not do anything better,” she said.
She further said that once teachers join schools, the system did not invest on them or their improvement. “We have programmes like District Institute of Education and Training (DIETs) but they are defunct. There are some good teachers in the system but nobody is investing in them. Training them is equally important. We do not make learning fun. If you make learning fun, children would love to come to municipal schools, where at present, students only come for midday meals,” Aga said.
Aga also spoke about the growing preference among parents to send their children to English-medium schools. She said that due to the government’s ignorance, there was a lack of English-medium government schools forcing parents to send their children to private schools, which charged much higher fees.
“Parents want their children to be taught English so they spend a lot of money in sending their children to horrible private schools. These schools teach them neither Marathi, Hindi or English properly.”
During her address to the graduating students, Aga urged them to not settle for mediocrity. Recounting her personal and professional challenges she inspired the audience with her own takeaways, which included acceptance of impermanence and mortality, not giving up in the face of adversity and investing in one’s health and wellness from a young age.
Among those who graduated, 112 completed there BTech, two completed their BTech-MTech dual degree courses and 96 students completed their MTech. There were also 78 MSc students, 14 MA students, 24 PhD students and two Postgraduate Diploma of The Institute (PGDIIT), who received their degrees and diplomas.
The 47 students who were conferred upon the awards included 21 who received gold medals, ten silver medals and 16 bronze medals for excellence in various categories like academics, research etc.
Talking about the institute’s journey since its inception in 2008 and completing 10 years, IIT-Gn director Prof Sudhir Jain said, “It is a matter of pride for all of us that the institute has made a mark nationally and internationally. On this 10th anniversary, we propose to undertake exercises in retrospection and plan for the years ahead.”
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