Dubai: He wears many hats. Apart from being the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia holds a dozen other portfolios in the Delhi Government. However, it is perhaps as the Minister of Education and Higher Education that Sisodia has had the biggest impact on public life.
Sisodia is currently in Dubai to participate in a conference at Expo 2020 Dubai, where ministers and academics from across the globe have converged to brainstorm and exchange ideas on how education can be accorded a more holistic scope, thereby ensuring maximum benefits for the maximum number.
Gulf News caught up with Sisodia in the midst of his tightly-packed schedule on Monday evening. Following are excerpts from a free-wheeling discussion:
GULF NEWS: What brings you to Dubai?
MANISH SISODIA: I am here to be a part of the Education Rewired summit, which is currently happening in Dubai. This is part of an attempt to bring the various stakeholders, administrators and educators on one platform and ensure a free exchange of ideas and concepts for a better understanding of the requirements of the education sector and what can be done better in the larger interests of students and academics.
Question: What is the one big take-away from this summit?
I have been meeting various officials and ministers from several countries who have all congregated here for the summit. And the exchange of ideas we have had here over the last couple of days is truly remarkable.
As you are probably aware, the Delhi Government under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has taken many innovative steps to ensure that the benefits of education reach the maximum number possible. Having attended this summit in Dubai, my attempt, as part of the Delhi Government, will now be to try and infuse the ideas that I have gathered here into the education sector in Delhi and further enrich the concepts that we have already started implementing there.
Here, in Dubai, I met delegates and officials from UAE, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Estonia — to name only a few — and the ideas emerging out of these discussions will help shape policies in the education sector back in Deli and India.
What are your reactions after having visited Expo 2020 Dubai?
Visiting Expo 2020 Dubai is a wonderful experience for me. In fact, this Education Rewired summit was held as part of Expo 2020 Dubai and it was indeed an experience to cherish. The way Dubai and the UAE have conceptualised and implemented the entire idea of Expo 2020 Dubai is something to savour and I’m soaking up every bit of the experience of being at the Expo. I visited the India Pavilion for very obvious reasons, because it’s the pavilion of my country. And I must say that it was a fantastic experience just being there at the India Pavilion — a wonderful piece of art and craftsmanship. I also visited the UK Pavilion because I was invited to the UK Pavilion as part of the delegation of the Education Rewired summit. The UK Pavilion, too, looked wonderful.
As Delhi’s Education Minister, you have been working relentlessly to bring about major changes in the education sector in Delhi with a lot of out-of-the-box thinking. Can you elaborate on that?
You see, the point is that it is not just enough to provide education until and unless we can ensure that those receiving education can make good use of their knowledge. That is why we have focused on two areas. The first is to ensure that no child misses out on primary education.
Secondly, we also need to ensure that every educated youth is able to find meaningful employment. With this in mind, we have launched the ‘Business Blasters’ programme, which will serve as a milestone in the progress of not just Delhi but the entire country in the years ahead. It has been launched for students in classes 11 and 12 at Delhi Government schools and it gives me immense pride to say that 51,000 students have already registered themselves for this initiative.
The idea behind the ‘Business Blasters’ programme is to help the youth acquire entrepreneurial skills and the day is not far when students will themselves be able to create employment opportunities instead of asking for them. Under this initiative, children were divided in groups and were given a seed fund of a minimum of Rs1,000 each to help them develop certain business ideas. This project has already turned out to be a huge success. Our attempt is to help make children aware that whatever they do should always be undertaken with the mindset of an entrepreneur.