Kalam enthrals Singapore, tells students to become lifelong learners

August 27th, 2008 - 7:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Singapore, Aug 27 (IANS) Former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Wednesday unveiled his vision for a knowledge-driven world in which creativity and courage would help future generations.”Armed with creativity, righteousness and courage, students can face the challenges that lie ahead of them,” Kalam said at the formal inauguration of the Global Indian International School’s new campus in Singapore.

Kalam urged teachers to instil in children a sense of curiosity and thirst for knowledge. “Give students the skills to navigate the sea of knowledge so that they become life-long learners,” he said while exhorting educators to provide strong moral and leadership values which the children would carry with them into the world of work.

Outlining his vision for a knowledge-driven world, he said: “Teachers should become facilitators and knowledge managers in order to inculcate an aptitude for entrepreneurship in the students.”

Later, after the formal opening ceremony and speeches, Kalam fielded questions from the crowd of cheering students who had filled the school’s auditorium. No question was too trivial or unimportant and no questioner too young to merit the eminent scientist’s attention.

As is often the case when the former president interacts with children, the organisers’ schedule was thrown to the wind as hundreds of students and teachers thronged to get his autograph, or hand him poems and stories that they had written.

The growing international interest in Indian educational institutions and teaching methods that has transformed India into a global IT hub and a technology leader is also reflected in the rapid growth of Indian schools in Southeast Asia. While a majority of students in these schools are of Indian origin, there is a rising demand from expatriates of other countries to send their children to an Indian school.

The Global Indian International School (GIIS), the largest network of Indian schools in the region, now runs 14 schools in seven countries, including Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam. The schools offer a choice of the Indian CBSE, Senior Cambridge and the International Baccalaureate (IB) diplomas. The three GIIS institutions in Singapore have more than 4,000 students on their rolls making it the largest international school in the island state.

On Tuesday, Kalam was conferred an honorary doctor of engineering degree by one of Singapore’s leading universities for his contribution to science and for serving as a role model for generations of scientists.

The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) conferred the Doctor of Engineering degree ‘honoris causa’ on Kalam at a brief ceremony chaired by Singapore President S.R. Nathan.

Addressing the standing-room-only crowd at the university’s auditorium, Kalam said the creativity of the best minds was needed to tackle the problems confronting the world.

Describing how technology and the internet had revolutionised the delivery of knowledge, he called for joint effort by universities and research institutions to find solutions to global challenges.

Among the major future tasks for scientists, Kalam listed them as search for alternatives to fossil fuels, exploring the human body to develop gene-based drugs, enhancing food production and a deeper understanding of what caused natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

Once again, as the former president left the packed hall, he was surrounded by throngs of camera-wielding students and autograph seekers. Students and university professors alike mobbed the 77-year old former president and security guards had a hard time controlling the eager hordes.

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