STEM excellence: Murthy calls for $1 bn annual investment in teacher training

Renowned software icon N. R. Narayana Murthy has advocated for an annual expenditure of $1 billion by India to train school teachers. Murthy proposed engaging 10,000 retired accomplished teachers from both developed nations and India, specialising in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Emphasising the inadequacy of this training alone, he stressed the need for increased respect, better salaries, and improved facilities for teachers and researchers.

Addressing the press during the announcement of the Infosys Prize 2023 by the Infosys Science Foundation, Murthy suggested a strategic approach to expedite the outcomes of the National Education Policy (NEP). He recommended inviting 10,000 retired teachers to establish 2,500 “Train the Teacher” colleges across India, offering a year-long training program. Murthy asserted that each group of four trainers could annually train 100 primary and 100 secondary school teachers, resulting in 250,000 teachers from each category per year.

To implement this ambitious plan, Murthy proposed an annual payment of $100,000 for each retired teacher, estimating a total cost of $20 billion over 20 years. Despite the substantial financial commitment, he argued that it would not be burdensome for a nation aspiring to achieve a GDP of $5 trillion. Drawing on the words of Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University, Murthy defended the investment, stating, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

Responding to queries about the Infosys Science Foundation’s potential recommendation on teacher training amidst competing budget priorities, Murthy expressed confidence in the evaluation process by experts. He encouraged the consideration of such suggestions for the betterment of the country.

Co-founder and President of the Board of Trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation, S Gopalakrishnan, echoed the need for a different approach as India’s GDP grows, emphasising the importance of implementing the National Education Policy 2020. Murthy concluded by underlining the four stages of a nation’s invention and innovation lifecycle, urging India to progress to stage four in every crucial area affecting the lives of its citizens. He stressed the significance of enhancing research and education quality to achieve this goal.