Software icon NR Narayana Murthy on Wednesday called for spending $1 billion a year to train school teachers by 10,000 retired highly accomplished teachers from the developed world and from India in science, technology, engineering and mathematics areas.
This course alone is not sufficient, Murthy said.
"We must show much respect and pay better salaries to our teachers and researchers. We must also provide better facilities to our researchers. We must honour them. They are role models for our youngsters. That is why we instituted the Infosys Prize in 2009. It is our small contribution to further the cause of research in India". he added.
One possible way of accelerating National Education Policy's outcome is to invite 10,000 retired highly accomplished teachers from the developed world and from India in STEM areas to create 2,500 "Train the Teacher" colleges in the country's 28 states and eight union territories, Murthy said.
This training programme should be year-long, he said in his remarks at a press conference here, where the Infosys Science Foundation announced the Infosys Prize 2023 in six categories.
"Experts tell me that each set of four trainers can train 100 primary school teachers and 100 secondary school teachers a year. We will be able to train 250,000 primary school teachers and 250,000 secondary school teachers every year by this method," the founder of Infosys said.
These trained Indian teachers can themselves become trainers over a period of five years, he added.
"We should pay about $100,000 a year for each of these retired teachers. This twenty-year programme will cost us $1 billion a year and $20 billion for twenty years. Our nation, targeting a GDP of $5 trillion soon, will not find it a big financial burden," Murthy, who is the trustee of Infosys Science Foundation said.
"If you think this is expensive, you may recall the words of Derek Bok, a former President of Harvard University, who said, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance," he noted.
On whether the Infosys Science Foundation will be making a strong recommendation on teachers' training and spending towards it, amid increased allocations on freebies by some governments and cut in budget on science and R&D, Murthy said, he has made the suggestion with the spirit of betterment of the country, and there are experts who will evaluate it and decide.
"In an environment like India's there are always suggestions by various people, and I'm sure we have a set of experts who will evaluate those suggestions. And if it is found to be worthwhile, they may take it forward. Otherwise, it won't, that's natural. And therefore, I think all these suggestions should be welcomed, as long as it is given with the spirit of betterment of the country," he said.
Another Infosys co-founder and president, board of trustees of the foundation S Gopalakrishnan said, "As our GDP grows, we need to do something different and we can't continue the same way that we are progressing."
Pointing at the National Education Policy 2020, he said, "We would like to see faster implementation of that policy. It is not enough that we make a recommendation, its implementation is equally important. And it is in that spirit that Mr. Murthy, I believe, has made this recommendation."
Murthy, in his remarks highlighted that there are four stages in the invention and innovation lifecycle of a nation and said countries progress from stage one to stage four using education and research.
India's success in atomic energy, space exploration, vaccine production and distribution, green revolution, electric cars, and generic medicines puts us in stage two in most areas and in stage three in a few areas, he said. "We are still in stage one in some important areas like design of livable cities, pollution management, traffic management, and providing clean and safe water."
India must aspire to move to stage four in every area that affects the lives of our poorest citizens in the remotest part of the country, Murthy said, adding, improving the quality of research and education in our institutions of higher learning to generate good ideas and focusing on quick and high-quality implementation of those ideas form the solution to this aspiration.
Excellence in speed in idea generation and in execution of those ideas comes from a culture of high aspiration, curious and inquiring minds, a desire to achieve the best global standard of work productivity, the most stringent discipline and hard work, and the mindset of a nation that respects better-performing cultures and is ready to learn from them, he said.
Pitching for improving the quality of our primary, secondary, and higher educational institutions to embrace independent, critical, and analytical thinking; "Socratic questioning"; and focusing on relating theory to understand the real world around us; to solve the mysteries of nature; and to solve our real-world problems, Murthy said, "I am glad NEP has started this journey."