Brave Confession from Azim Premji Foundation

Here’s an amazing, courageous, honest revelation from the Azim Premji Foundation:, among the world’s largest and most dedicated technology and education non-profits. They do their work in India (so, note qualifications around that fact). Many thanks to @gkjohn for forwarding this article.

For anyone in technology and education, it’s worth reading in its entirety, but here are some excerpts…

Over a four-year period, we at the Azim Premji Foundation produced the largest single library of digital learning resources (DLR) in India for children… After 5 years, when we took stock at a fundamental level, we realized that the whole thing was at best a qualified failure.

The Jester has worked with APF. It should be noted that they did a lot more than just produce software. They looked after computer labs, they did evaluations, they ran exploratory projects. They know what they’re talking about, and being the foundation of an IT magnate, they would probably liked to have seen the computers have impact.

[T]here was practically no impact in a sustained, systemic manner on learning.

[T]he limited numbers of schools with computers have a [sic] very poor uptime […] [A]t best 30%, driven both by poor electricity supply and the inability to fix technical glitches. Let’s not even discuss Internet availability.

[We] find that innumerable people inside and outside the education system think of technology (always meaning ICT) as something between a panacea and “the-most-important-solution”. A number of them are in influential positions, and these misconceived notions can have a significantly detrimental effect on the national effort to improve educational quality.

At its best, the fascination with ICT as a solution distracts from the real issues. At its worst, ICT is suggested as substitute to solving the real problems, for example, “why bother about teachers, when ICT can be the teacher”. This perspective is lethal.

In the past few months, we happened to meet education leaders from Finland and from the province of Ontario in Canada—two regions with outstanding school systems. Across two continents, they said the same thing – “not a dollar will we invest in ICT, every dollar that we have will go to teacher and school leader capacity building”.

 If everyone were as brave as APF, we w ouldn’t need William Easterly.


One Response to “Brave Confession from Azim Premji Foundation”

  1. Clint Tseng Says:

    “Third, irrespective of the DLR quality, its use for learning was only as good as the teacher in the classroom. With a few exceptional teachers, it became a useful tool. With an ordinary teacher, it was just a means of entertainment.”

    Gee, that sounds like human intent and capacity being magnified. =)

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