The Jit Paul Memorial Lecture was initiated by Oxford Bookstore in 2014. Its third edition was delivered as the fourth session of day 2 at Kolkata Literature Festival 2017.
It was opened by Maina Bhagat, the director of Oxford Bookstore, Park Street. Jawhar Sircar and Mrs. Devi Kar were the speakers who discussed the issues around present-day education in the country.
Jawhar Sircar was the Chief Executive Officer, equivalent to the position of the Secretary, Government of India, of Prasar Bharati, India’s Public Service Broadcaster that is All India Radio and Doordarshan. He supervised the two broadcasting networks of India: All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan which among the three largest in the world.
Devi Kar has been in the field of school education for decades. Currently she is Director, Modern High School for Girls, Kolkata and of Modern Academy of Continuing Education (MACE) which she set up in 2007. It runs teacher training courses in association with the University of Calcutta and is a lively centre for the pursuit of art appreciation, theatre and languages. She serves on Education Boards and Scholarship panels and was Member of the Round Table on School Education constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, to discuss innovative ideas to improve school education in India. Devi Kar has written history books for children which were published by Oxford University press and Orient Longman. She writes on matters related to education for newspapers and journals. She is very proud of winning the Best Lady driver twice over at the Statesman Vintage Rally.
The two speakers presented a dialectic relationship between the government and educators. While Kar pointed out that utilizing optimally the allocation of resources for the education of children is a challenge, Sircar emphasized, “I would still put emphasis on the quality of education that is being imparted to the children today.” He also observed, “We have 24 crore smartphones. One smartphone does a lot for the education.”
This statement met with loud applause from the audience.
Devi Kar recalled Margaret Mead in saying that it is better to trust committed individuals than to trust the government. She added, “Can we live in hope? Because we are talking about an endangered future of the child.”
The session was an engaging one in terms of the fact that the minds of children need to be cultivated constructively instead of nipping them in the bud.
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