Wipro Limited: Applying Thought in Schools
Research Project Background
This case study is one of ten that were chosen as part of the Enhancing Business-Community Relations project in India implemented in collaboration with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI). These cases document examples of engagement between businesses and communities and can be used as learning tools for the promotion of responsible business practice and sustainable development. The Enhancing Business-Community Relations project is a joint international initiative between United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the New Academy of Business. Implemented in seven developing countries, the purpose of the initiative was to collect and document information on business-community practices as perceived by all stakeholders, build partnerships with them and promote corporate social responsibility practices. It is also intended to enhance international understanding of business-community relations through information sharing and networking with other countries especially those participating in the project - Brazil, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa and Lebanon. The findings and recommendations reflected in the case study are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of UNV, TERI or the New Academy of Business. It is important to note that these cases were written as examples of business-community initiatives. They do not constitute a comprehensive assessment of the company s social responsibility.
a comprehensive assessment of the company s social responsibility.
Wipro is a leading Indian IT services provider, whose programme, Applying Thought in Schools is aimed at ensuring children leave school equipped with skills which are demanded by today s employers; the emphasis rests clearly on creative thinking and problem-solving. To achieve this, teachers are invited to attend subsidised workshops where they have the chance to learn new techniques and concepts. Moreover, to ensure application in the classroom, these workshops are backed up with regular in-school sessions.
2. Company Profile
Wipro is a leading provider of IT solutions, with a profitable presence in other niche markets such as consumer products and lighting. It services the needs of a diverse base of India's largest corporate houses and multi-nationals, as well as being dominant throughout Asia-Pacific and Middle East. It is listed on the National Stock Exchange, and has been the recipient of numerous awards for performance and innovation. The company has also undertaken a joint venture with GE Medical. With over two decades of experience, 1900 employees and 275 business partners serving over 40,000 customers, Wipro has stamped its presence on the Indian market and leads the Indian IT industry.
3. Project History and Development
Applying Thought in schools was launched in 2002 with the intention of enhancing the creativity and problem solving skills of school children. The driving force behind this initiative is Wipro s belief that there is a need to reduce the gap between what is currently provided by existing teaching techniques, and what is required by today s organisations. The mission of this initiative is to transform the education system to achieve world-class Quality of Learning , with two broad aims:
a) to enhance learning and thinking abilities, and
b) to have an impact on a large number of people. A summary of the programme philosophy is given below; Learning is not a simple matter of information transmission learning is an active process in which people construct new understandings through exploration, experimentation, discussion and reflection.
The most important purpose of school is to help students understand the major disciplinary ways of thinking scientifically, historically, artistically, ethically and mathematically. Every child is intelligent in a multiple way the real purpose of education is to help young people learn how to create the lives they truly want to create, that is, expand possibilities for them. The modern workplace needs people who are rich in skills such as creative thinking, problem solving, self-motivation, with a strong work ethic and the ability to work in teams. The programme identified a series of problematic areas within the Indian education system: depth of knowledge, practical orientation, poor social skills, and students studying to pass exams rather than to learn and understand different concepts. These deficiencies were blamed on the absence of synergy between the different participants in the education system.
The rationale for the project descends from the idea of a knowledge economy, in which the nations with the best thinkers and learners will prosper. People who think and learn are the real output of a successful, high-quality education system. Despite Wipro s background however, the programme is not restricted to IT. Instead, it is concerned with how creative thinking and commitment can make a difference to everyday life. Acknowledging the profound importance of teachers, the programme s focus is on teacher empowerment and re-skilling, enabling them to effectively put into action innovative teaching and assessment methods. It is a long term programme, with training spread over 6 months, interspersed with classroom based support, and follow-up training to ensure actual practice inside the classrooms. Schools are charged for participation in the training program though the cost is heavily subsidised. Wipro is also seeking to create partnerships in Bachelor of Education colleges as well.
Effective measurement of change in thinking and learning abilities is a challenge to the project. The Wipro strategy is to not only work at the school level, but to promote change at the national level in order to make this change sustainable. Working with partners and opinion leaders helps in the identification of schools that could participate in the project. Such collaboration also improves the chances of the project impacting national policy. The programme is based on some fundamental building blocks. These are practical aims or objectives that shape implementation and are detailed below; To transform the teacher into a reflective practitioner who is herself a thinker and
The training programme is implemented through a local NGO called Jagruti. It involves 18 full days of training for each teacher, spread over a 6 month period. Subsequent to this teachers receive training modules from expert trainers, 12 days of classroom-based support and group-based activities. The training is conducted in a manner of styles to ensure it is interactive and effective.
4.1 Progress made
The project has made considerable progress in the last eighteen months. For example, Over 200 teachers have participated in the workshops, with school-based support to follow Wipro is securing support from many partners all over the country, with aims to launch further teacher-training programmes in new locations Workshops with parents are due to start in mid-October A Forum for Quality in Education has been set up by Wipro to encourage opinion leaders to discuss advocacy Evidence collected by Wipro details examples of problems which were resolved through the programme. Using a variety of teaching methods such as brainstorming and project work, for example, has contributed to student engagement in the classroom as well as the improvement of teachers skills. Time-management has also improved amongst teachers, which has meant that administrative work is handled more efficiently and that disruptions do not reduce the effectiveness of lessons. Techniques, such as circle time, have been introduced to maximise student participation and contribution to their lessons. Indeed, classroom teaching has also been made more stimulating through the use of teaching aids. The range of skills taught and tested has been enhanced through the emphasis on concepts such as summarise, explain, organise, and design. By adopting these new approaches, the traditional spoon-feeding approach can be replaced by fact- finding. Teachers have also been given the opportunity to work on concepts which they found difficult to explain, in order to make them more accessible and understandable by pupils.
4.2. Wipro s approach for learning
The methods used for the training include short lectures (10 minute capsules), small group discussions, collaborative learning within a group and school based support. The following describes some of the problems faced by teachers/students and how these were addressed through Wipro programme: