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The Right to Education Act: Revolutionary, Redundant, or Regressive?

Designation: Country Director
Organisation: Absolute Return for Kids
Profile: Amitav Virmani joined ARK in August 2008. Prior to this he was General Manager in the office of the CEO & Managing Director of Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited (RLL), India’s largest pharmaceutical company. Amitav previously worked with Bristol Myers Squibb spending four years in New Jersey and then moved to India to help set up the Indian office. Amitav is also a Trustee and Manager of two family run schools that serve lesser privileged children in New Delhi. Amitav earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000, after graduating with Honors in Economics from the St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi, India in 1994.


Designation:  Coordinator
Organisation: South Asian Forum for Education Development
Profile: Baela Raza Jamil is a public policy specialist, an activist in the education sector and a former technical advisor to the Ministry of Education, Pakistan. She has worked extensively in the areas of quality, community-based initiatives for education access and quality, local governance and public-private partnerships in three continents and across several  countries. She has studied comparative education, public policy and economic history at the Institute of Education, University of London, Rosemont College USA, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.


Designation: Professor of Education and International Development
Organization:  Institute of Education, London University
Profile:  Geeta Gandhi Kingdon was until recently a Research Fellow at the Department of Economics, University of Oxford. She lectures in Development Economics and her research interests include Economics of Education, Labour Economics and the Economics of Happiness, mostly in countries of South Asia and Africa. Her work is based on micro-econometric analysis of survey data and has resulted in more than 25 papers in peer reviewed Economics and Development Economics journals. She is on the Editorial Board of three academic journals and does extensive academic refereeing as well as advisory work for governments and donor agencies.


Profile: Recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri Award from the President of India in 2004, Gowri Ishwaran is an innovative educationist with over 30 years of experience in leading schools. She was the founder principal of Sanskriti School, New Delhi, an institution that has become one of the leading schools in India within a short span of 10 years. She has also been instrumental in developing, organising and conducting training programmes and seminars, for students and teachers, disseminating her experiences and learnings. A gold medallist and M. A. in English Literature, she reads extensively and writes for newspapers and magazines.


Designation: National Commissioner (RTE)
Organisation: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights


Designation: Director
Organisation: New Horizon Media

Profile: K. Satyanarayan studied at IIT Madras and Cornell University, USA. He was one of the co-founders of the website cricinfo.com and handled various functions there, ranging from sales & marketing to editorial to operations. After CricInfo and Wisden merged in February 2003, he continued with Wisden CricInfo's Indian operations in Chennai till December 2005, with responsibility for business development and finance. He co-founded New Horizon Media, a publishing company, in early 2004 with a focus on publishing in Indian languages and is currently a Director there. His longer term interest is to create affordable, sustainable, replicable school education models (K-12) by working with and around the existing education system, with the goal of providing ample opportunities for every individual to live up to his/her highest potential.


Designation: Chairman
Organisation: TeamLease Services

Profile: Manish Sabharwal is a successful serial entrepreneur having started and successfully exited multiple businesses. He is a co-founder of TeamLease services - among India's largest private sector employers. Prior, he co-founded IndiaLife Hewitt (HR services, BPO), ICap India (fixed income and Forex inter dealer) and India Insure Risk Management (an insurance brokerage firm). He has an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.


Designation: Director - Public Social Programs
Organisation: Edenred Italia, Milan (ITALY)

Profile: Since 2005, Monica Boni is in charge of the development of public social programs and welfare services at Edenred Italia, branch of the multinational company Edenred. After working for a long time in marketing and communication, she took the responsibility of developing new products and services trough voucher systems (paper, cards and web platforms) for the public benefits enabling their inclusion.
Short description of Dote Scuola Program: Launched in 2008, Dote Scuola is a school allowance provided by Lombardia Region (Northern Italy) to support students attending primary and secondary schools. The aid is given to students provided that their families prove to have certain income characteristics. The program employs a finalized voucher system through paper and e-vouchers in order to reinforce the demand, close control the correct spending (only for school equipments, school fees and services) and monitor the results. Paper vouchers can be used in an affiliated network of shops, whereas e-vouchers are used to pay for school fees.


Designation: President
Organisation: Centre for Civil Society.
Profile: Parth J Shah has conceptualised and organised liberal educational programs for the Indian youth including Liberty & Society Seminars, Jeevika Livelihood Documentary Competition, and Researching Reality Internship Program. He has edited Morality of Markets, Friedman on India, Profiles in Courage: Dissent on Indian Socialism, Do Corporations Have Social Responsibility? and co-edited Law, Liberty & Livelihood: Making a Living on the Street; Terracotta Reader: A Market Approach to the Environment; BR Shenoy: Theoretical Vision and BR Shenoy: Economic Prophecies and Agenda for Change. Parth is on the editorial board of EducationWorld, Vishleshan, and Khoj, and is informal advisor to many non-profits. He has taken liberal ideas to numerous national and international workshops and conferences and writes regularly in the popular media. He is the youngest Indian member of the Mont Pelerin Society.


Designation: Independent Consultant
Profile: Premila Nazareth Satyanand, got her undergraduate degree in History, from St Stephen’s College, New Delhi and then went on to complete her MA in International Affairs from Columbia University, New York. She is an independent consultant who specializes on issues of foreign direct investments and is currently employed as a research advisor with Griffin Strategy Partners. She has worked with the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, New York; the Ministry of Trade and Industry in South Africa; and the World Bank in India. She has also spearheaded grassroots education and transparency initiatives in India, working closely with India’s Right to Information movement. She has advised foreign companies on public policy issue for the last twenty years. She is also a trustee of the Centre for Civil Society.


Designation: Country Director
Organisation: Gray Matters Capital
Pradeep Sharma is the Country Director for Gray Matters Capital in India. Based in Hyderabad, Pradeep manages programs in the education sector to develop the education ecosystem in India with a focus on affordable private schools (APS). His responsibilities include developing a rating system for APSs and scaling it to multiple cities within India to enhance market transparency, to create market intelligence and to set quality standards. By partnering with innovative solution providers, who typically do not find APS segment attractive, he intends to create a sustainable market by aggregating the schools and by creating a platform for commerce such that it leads to a paradigm shift in pedagogy & school management. Pradeep has his Masters in Business Administration from Asian Institute of Management, Manila, Philippines and York University, Toronto, Canada. Pradeep has his Bachelor of Engineering degree from R.V College of Engineering in Bangalore, India.


Designation: Chairman
Organisation: National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
Profile: Dr Jena is a postgraduate from the Utkal University and did his MPhil from the Kuruskhetra University, Haryana. He was awarded the Indian Council for Social Sciences Research doctoral fellowship and completed his PhD in Education from the Institute of Social Economic Change, (ISEC), Bangalore. He joined as one of the faculty members in the school of Education, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), New Delhi at its initial stage. Subsequently, he worked as Regional Director of the Regional Centres of IGNOU at Shillong, New Delhi, Patna and Bhubaneswar. He also worked as Dean School of Distance Learning; SVKM’s NMIMS University, Mumbai and helped the institution in establishing its national wide distance learning programmes.

T K MathewT K Mathew
Secretary and Chief Executive

Organisation: Deepalaya
Profile: T K Mathew is also the Founder and President of Pradan, professional development organization engaged in rural development with livelihood as the major theme. He has been consultant to the likes of CEVA, Cochin/Kuebel Foundation Germany, ICCO Holland, AMI Italy, PLAN International and many others. He has been awarded Vijaya Gujral Award-1999 from Vijaya Gujaral Foundation, Dr Ambedkar Smriti Award for upliftment of children in India by Dalit Children’s Education & Development Programme Charitable Trust, the Man of Achievement Award-1999 by International Publishing House and several other prestigious awards and honours.

Chief, Education

Organisation: UNICEF India Country Office
Profile: Urmila Sarkar began her UN career with the International Labour Organization at its headquarters in 2000 and was charged with the task of developing their global expertise and managing their programmes on using education and training to combat child labour. She transferred to the ILO Asia-Pacific Office in Bangkok in 2004 to develop and manage the research, policy, operational and knowledge management work related to its largest programme portfolio: combating child labour and creating education, training and decent work opportunities for young people. She has authored and supervised many publications and tools in this field. Before the ILO, Urmila worked in South Asia and Africa with New Delhi as her base in the 1990s.  She worked with grass-roots civil society and was part of founding the Global March Against Child Labour which also led to the formation of the Global Campaign for Education.

Organisation: Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
Profile: A physicist by profession, Vinod Raina is one of the pioneers of the People’s Science Movement in India, having helped set up the All-India People’s Science Network (AIPSN) and the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS). He is a founding member of Eklavya, an organization advocating alternative education for more than two decades, and the only NGO whose curriculum was adopted in the state school educational system. He is a member of the Central Advisory Board for Education which drafted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act). He has been a Homi Bhabha Fellow, a Fellow of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi, and an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Science Writers Association.

Designation: Senior Research Fellow and Director
Organisation: Accountability Initiative, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

Profile:  Yamini has an Msc in Development Studies from the London School of Economics, an MA in Social and Political Sciences from St. Edmunds College Cambridge University, UK and a BA in Philosophy from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Prior to joining CPR Yamini was working as an independent consultant providing research and policy support to government, international donors and civil society organizations on governance reform with a  focus on issues related to strengthening accountability in basic service delivery.

An initiative of Centre for Civil Society