The first School Choice National Conference (SCNC) on Quality Education for All: Policy Solutions for Better Schooling, organized by the School Choice Campaign on 16 December 2009 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, was well attended and appreciated by the participants. The Conference had an excellent blend of top-level national and international academics, policy makers, eminent speakers and education experts and advisors as well as a very good representation of delegates comprising of development workers, corporates, academicians and school leaders, government officials, civil society, social activists, youth and the media.
Speaking at the Inauguration of the Conference, Mr Sam Carlson, Lead Education Specialist - World Bank, summarized the challenges for the government and civil society groups in executing the Right to Education in India. Calling for more Public Private Partnerships, Mr Carlson demanded more emphasis on quality of school education. Also present were Dr Parth Shah, President – Centre for Civil Society and Mr Kanwal Rekhi, who spoke on the need for school choice solutions to reforming and liberalizing school education in India.
The Conference sessions focused on the implementation of the key provisions of the Right to Education and their potential impact on the future of Indian elementary education.
Amit KaushikIndian Railway Accounts Service
Amit Kaushik joined the Indian Railway Accounts Service in 1987 after obtaining a postgraduate degree in Economics from the Punjab University, Chandigarh. From 2001-2006, Amit was Director - Elementary Education in the Ministry of HRD, Government of India, where he was associated with the development and implementation of policies related to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Among other things, he was closely associated with the drafting of the Right to Education Bill, 2005, based on which The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, and has recently been passed. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of Shri Educare Ltd, a recently incorporated education services provider that offers a range of services from establishing preschools and K-12 schools to teacher training, curriculum development and consulting.
Anders HultinAn educational professional with more than 18 years experience
Anders Hultin is an educational professional with more than 18 years experience of marrying together pioneering approaches to education with cutting-edge business thinking. Between 1991 and 1994 Anders worked as a political advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Schools. In 1999 Anders co-founded Kunskapsskolan. He was Chief Executive of this company for eight years during which time the company became the largest provider of secondary education in Scandinavia operating thirty-two schools with more than 10,000 students. Between 2007 and 2009 Anders was based in London in order to establish the company in the UK. Currently, Andes Hultin works as Chief Executive officer of GEMS Education UK.
Anu AgaChairperson of the Thermax Social Initiative
Anu Aga is the Chairperson of the Thermax Social Initiative Foundation which runs the CSR activities of Thermax, including two schools for children from the under-privileged sections of society. She is also closely associated with the Teach for India Initiative which attempts bridging the inequity gap in education. She is keenly involved in the causes of communal harmony and human rights, especially women and children. Ms Aga has been very active in various national and local associations like Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and had served as the Chairperson of CII’s Western Region. She has written extensively and given talks on the subjects of corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, role of women and education.
Baladevan RNational Director of the School Choice Campaign
Baladevan R is the National Director of the School Choice Campaign run by the Centre for Civil Society. Before becoming a School Choice advocate, he had been a mahseer conservation activist, a teacher and trainer and a school leader. His passion for promoting choice and competition, and his knowledge of how the education system of the country works comes from his having been a school administrator. At the helm of affairs in a K-12 private school, he liaised with various government and non-government agencies to take the school from upper-primary to high school level, in the process experiencing firsthand the harsh difficulties and impediments one faces at the hands of the license raj that still rules the sector. He speaks and writes on education related policy issues.
Gurcharan DasAn author, consultant and public intellectual.
Gurcharan Das is an author, consultant and public intellectual. He is the author of the international bestseller, India Unbound, which has been published in many countries and languages and filmed by the BBC. He writes a regular column on Sundays for the Times of India, Dainik Bhaskar, Eenadu, and Prabhat Khabar and occasional guest columns for the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Foreign Affairs, Time and Newsweek magazines. Gurcharan Das graduated with honors from Harvard University in Philosophy and Politics. He was CEO of Procter & Gamble India and Vice President, Procter & Gamble Far East between 1985 and 1992, and later Vice President and Managing Director, Procter & Gamble Worldwide (Strategic Planning). Prior to P&G, he was Chairman and Managing Director of Richardson Hindustan Limited from 1981 to 1985, the company where he started as a trainee. He currently is associated with a private equity fund and as Chairman of Trustees for Centre for Civil Society.
James TooleyA Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle University.
James Tooley is a Professor of Education Policy at Newcastle University, where he directs the E. G. West Centre. For his ground-breaking research on private education for the poor in India, China and Africa, Professor Tooley was awarded gold prize in the first International Finance Corporation/ Financial Times Private Sector Development Competition in September 2006. From 2007 to 2009, he was founding President of The Education Fund, Orient Global, living in Hyderabad, India. He is currently chairman of education companies in Ghana and China creating embryonic chains of low cost private schools. He is an award-winning scholar featured in PBS and BBC documentaries and has been covered in Newsweek, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. He currently lives in Hyderabad, India, where he works with entrepreneurs and teachers who inspired his book, "The Beautiful Tree"
Kanwal S RekhiAn Indian-American engineer, businessman and millionaire philanthropist
Kanwal S Rekhi is an Indian-American engineer, businessman and millionaire philanthropist. He was named Entrepreneur of the Year in 1987 by the Arthur-Young/Venture magazine. He was named to the Board of Advisors to the President of Michigan Tech and in 1997 was honoured with a doctorate in Business and Engineering. Kanwal is also involved in increasing the visibility of premier educational institutions in India. He gave US $3 million to IIT Bombay to help set up a new School of Information Technology, named KReSIT (Kanwal Rekhi School of Information Technology), which opened in 1999. Kanwal is a past Chairman and trustee of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs). He was formerly Chairman of the Centre for Civil Society.
Karthik MuralidharanAn assistant professor in the economics department at the University of California
Ph.D. (Harvard) is an assistant professor in the economics department at the University of California - San Diego. His research focuses on improving education and health in developing countries, and includes a widely-cited cross-country study on teacher and medical worker absence in public schools and clinics in developing countries (with a focus on India). He has also studied the impact of performance-pay for teachers, the impact of contract teachers, and the impact of cash grants to schools on student learning outcomes in India via large-scale randomized evaluations. Current projects include experimental evaluations of the impact of school choice programs in India, and the impact of teacher certification, across the board salary increases for teachers, and continuous teacher training programs in Indonesia
Molly McMahonProgram Officer for Gray Matters Capital
Molly McMahon is the Program Officer for Gray Matters Capital. Based in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, Molly is leading the ecosystem development of the affordable private school market. Prior to joining Gray Matters Capital, Molly was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras. She returned to Central America as Country Director for the Riecken Foundation, and built their Honduran office as well as developed and scaled their library program. She has her Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), she was selected for the education reform fellowship Education Pioneers, and received her undergraduate degree in International Affairs from the University of Oregon.
Neelima KhetanChief Executive of Seva Mandir
Neelima Khetan is the Chief Executive of Seva Mandir. She joined Seva Mandir in 1985 after completing her Post Graduate degree from the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, one of India’s premier management schools. From June 2006 to May 2007, she was also the Acting Director of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), and was able to help IRMA tide over a crisis of leadership and institutional identity. Neelima continues to be on the Board of IRMA, and she is also on the Boards of several other leading and emerging NGOs and academic / research institutions in the country. She has served on several Central and State Government Committees, including the Joint GO-NGO Machinery of the Planning Commission, the Advisory Committee for the State’s Rajiv Gandhi Mission on Primary Education, Committee on Land Reforms under the Ministry Of Rural Development and others.
Oscar FernandesSenior leader in the Indian National Congress
Oscar Fernandes is a senior leader in the Indian National Congress and a distinguished Parliamentarian with nearly 30 years of experience spanning both Houses. Hon Fernandes has held ministerial appointments in charge of Sports, Youth Affairs and Labor in the previous government. He has received received the Syndicate Agricultural Foundation Award for the highest yield in paddy and the Karnataka Government State Level Award for agriculture. Currently, Hon Fernandes is the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Resource Development.
Parth J ShahPresident of the Centre for Civil Society
Parth J Shah is the President of the Centre for Civil Society. He has conceptualised and organised liberal educational programs for the Indian youth including Liberty & Society Seminars, Jeevika Livelihood Documentary Competition, and Researching Reality Internship Program. He has edited Morality of Markets, Friedman on India, Profiles in Courage: Dissent on Indian Socialism, Do Corporations Have Social Responsibility? and co-edited Law, Liberty & Livelihood: Making a Living on the Street; Terracotta Reader: A Market Approach to the Environment; BR Shenoy: Theoretical Vision and BR Shenoy: Economic Prophecies and Agenda for Change. Parth is on the editorial board of EducationWorld, Vishleshan, and Khoj, and is informal advisor to many non-profits. He has taken liberal ideas to numerous national and international workshops and conferences and writes regularly in the popular media. He is the youngest Indian member of the Mont Pelerin Society.
R GovindaPh.D. (Education) from M.S. University
R Govinda Ph.D. (Education) from M.S. University, Baroda; taught at the Centre of Advanced Study in Education, Baroda; was on the Faculty of International Institute for Educational Planning, UNESCO, Paris and Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, Consultant for UNESCO, UNICEF, ACCU, NORAD, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank; published several books and professional papers in Indian and international journals; specializes in Policy Analysis, Decentralised Management, Basic Education, Non-formal Education and Educational Evaluation.
Rashmi KrishnanAdditional Director at the Directorate of Education (Delhi)
Rashmi Krishnan has recently been appointed Additional Director at the Directorate of Education (Delhi), in charge of Vocational Education and Literacy. Mrs Krishnan is an experienced administrator with a career of over twenty five years in different arms of Delhi government, including employment and health. Mrs Krishnan also currently serves as Director of State Council for Education Research and Training.
Sam CarlsonLead Education Specialist for the World Bank in India
Sam Carlson is Lead Education Specialist for the World Bank in India. He studied Education and International Relations at Dartmouth College, including secondary level teacher certification. After teaching in Asia and the USA for several years he undertook graduate studies at Princeton University in economic development. Upon graduation in 1989 he joined the World Bank. Assignments have included education project preparation and implementation in Latin America, Africa, East Asia and South Asia, along with research in educational technology, secondary and higher education. Current research focuses on skills development and secondary education in India.
Sridhar RajagopalanWorked with Tata IBM
Sridhar Rajagopalan worked with Tata IBM for three years before he joined Eklavya Education Foundation. He was part of the team that was responsible in setting up Eklavya School and he was instrumental in the conceptualization, implementation and running of the Eklavya Institute of Teacher Education. Currently he is spearheading the efforts at Educational Initiatives looking mainly at the test development process, teacher training and curriculum services and is a core group member of NEGAEE (National Expert Group on Assessment in Elementary Education-committee formed by NCERT).
Vijay ChaddaChief Executive Officer at Bharti Foundation
Vijay Chadda joined Bharti Foundation as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on 16th October 2008. Prior to this he was with LePassage to India/TUI where he was working as Chief Executive Officer since January 2007. He brings with him 36 years of rich and varied experience including 20 years with the armed forces. He is a graduate from the National Defense Academy, Khadakvasla and the Canadian Forces Command and Staff College Toronto, Canada. He has also completed M Sc Defense Studies from Madras University. During the last 16 years, in corporate leadership positions, Vijay initiated and managed various activities: start ups, restructuring of large operations for efficiency, productivity and building successful business and organization in a range of travel related services. Prior to joining LePassage to India/TUI, he was with Kuoni Travel India Pvt. Ltd. as Chief Operating Officer – India and S. Asia.
Vijay K. ThadaniChief Executive Officer of NIIT Ltd
Vijay K. Thadani is the Chief Executive Officer of NIIT Ltd, a leading Global Talent Development Corporation which is recognised for its visionary role in bringing the benefits of Information Technology, both as a professional skill and as a learning tool, to the masses. Vijay also led the Group’s globalization efforts, taking the NIIT flag to over 40 countries. He is currently the Chairman of CII National Committee on Education.