At St. Xavier’s College, under the high ceilings of the hall bathed in yellow lights, one thing stood out more than the colour of Hillary Clinton’s bright red business suit — her comfort level.
Listening intently to every word actor Aamir Khan — who shared the dais with her on Saturday for an interaction on education — even patting his knee on one occasion when agreeing to a point he made and referring to Bill Clinton simply as ‘my husband’, the United States’ Secretary of State looked like she had been here before.
Drawing comparisons between education in India and USA, she said — and Khan agreed — that teachers should be better paid. “It is important to know how important teaching is for the public to support paying teachers better,” said Clinton. “Teachers want to do a good job but are not given enough support.”
Khan, who played the role of a teacher of an autistic child in the film Taare Zameen Par, said: “Teaching should be among the highest paying jobs.”
Saying that India and the US should see how they could work together to increase opportunities in education, Clinton advocated cooperation and collaboration.
“Both India and the US face similar problems. We have the greatest schools and universities but we have lots to do to fulfill the promise of equal education,” she said. “In India, millions of kids have no education because you do not have the infrastructure.”
She said her country had the infrastructure but could not get best returns because the challenge was to retain children’s attention given distractions like the Internet and TV.
“I am told you have a dynamic new education minister,” she said. “India must use technology for education.”
She stressed on more involvement from parents and better quality teachers. “When my husband was Governor of Arkansas I proposed a teachers’ test. It was very controversial,” she said. “But the teachers took the test and 10 per cent of them failed.”
Clinton said it was unfortunate that poor children, whose parents did not have the time to get involved in their education, often end up with the worst teachers.