June 24, 2012
Department of Social Work, Coimbatore
“I say without fear of my figures being challenged successfully, that today India is more illiterate than it was fifty or a hundred years ago, because the British administrators, when they came to India, instead of taking hold of things as they were, began to root them out.”
This statement made by Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 provides indication of the pre colonial system of education in India which resulted in some of the highest rates of literacy in the world. Things started to change drastically after the introduction of the westernized system of education system whose main purpose was to prepare Indian clerks for running the local administration.
Initiatives launched by the government of post independence India succeeded somewhat in increasing literacy rates by improving access to school education and reducing drop outs levels. Nevertheless, according to a recent report, 51.8 percent of class V children in rural India today are unable to read or comprehend class II text books.
These facts motivated the founding of the Azim Premji Foundation in 2001. With the mandate to enhance the quality of primary school education in India, and with generous endowments from Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro Ltd., the NGO is among the most well funded in India.
Madhusudanan Sundaresan from the Coimbatore campus is the second Amrita student graduating with a degree of MSW (Master in Social Work) to be selected to work at the foundation through campus placements.
Even before beginning his MSW studies, Madhusudanan showed a keen interest in the field of elementary education.
After completing his B.E. (Metallurgy) in the year 2007 from Government College of Engineering, Salem and working for Sterlite Industries (I) Ltd., Tuticorin (a subsidiary of the Vedanta Group of Companies) he became associated with Bhumi, an NGO in Chennai working to promote holistic development of under-privileged children in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, New Delhi, Rajasthan and other areas in the country.
During his MSW field-work, he felt drawn to the field of primary education again. He completed a study titled Perception of School Social Workers by School Teachers based on interactions and surveys in several rural schools. He completed his internship at the Village Resource Center at KG Chavady Middle School.
Madhusudanan has published his field research in peer reviewed journals as well as presented at major conferences.
“I am looking forward to working with the Azim Premji Foundation,” he stated.
He shared some words of advice for junior students. “Stick to the basics. It was regularly reading the newspaper that helped me perform well at the interview.”
“I thank the Head of the Department, Dr. J. Paranjothi Ramalingam who constantly motivated me. I also thank my Faculty Advisor Mr. M. Nagalingam, Assistant Professor, who was my guide in completing my dissertation and field work,” he said.