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Thunderbird at ASU propels key partnerships in India, further expanding access to professional education

Partners throughout India sign on to accelerate the Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative, a program of Thunderbird


Man speaking behind podium on raised stage

This fall, the International Institute of Hotel Management signed a letter of agreement with the Thunderbird School of Global Management to launch the Francis and Dionne Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative across all of the institute's centers in India, marking one of many key partnerships with Thunderbird to expand access to education across India and on a global scale. Photo courtesy the Thunderbird School of Global Management

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January 16, 2024

This fall, Sanjeev Khagram, director general and dean of the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, made significant strides in advancing the school's global impact, advancing access to education across India and worldwide with the Francis and Dionne Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative.

Recently, Khagram collaborated with the Department of Higher Education, for and on behalf of the Government of West Bengal, to partner with Thunderbird to offer the Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative and its courses throughout West Bengal.

In addition, the International Institute of Hotel Management (IIHM), the acclaimed global hotel management college located in India, signed a letter of agreement with Thunderbird to launch the initiative across all IIHM centers in India. The signing was carried out by Khagram and Suborno Bose, founder and chief mentor of IIHM.

“The Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative is an ambitious project, and India, with its supercharged youth population, is a hotbed of industry-relevant education,” Bose said. “IIHM is proud to partner with Thunderbird and provide these globally recognized courses in India.”

Khagram also met with Techno India University/Techno India Group and signed an agreement offering the Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative to individuals attending the university, including faculty and staff, students and the greater communities they serve.

“I am delighted to witness the powerful alliance forged between Thunderbird School of Global Management, a beacon of excellence at Arizona State University, and the visionary institutions of Techno India Group and Techno India University, in support of the 100 Million Learners Global Initiative. This collaboration exemplifies a commitment to fostering global leadership and knowledge exchange, transcending borders to empower a diverse multitude of learners worldwide,” said Professor Manoshi Roy Chowdhury, co-chairperson of Techno India Group and co-chancellor of Techno India University, West Bengal. “Together, we embark on a transformative journey to shape the future of education and cultivate a generation of leaders equipped to navigate the complexities of our interconnected world."

To further propel the initiative at scale in India, Thunderbird is also collaborating with governments, corporations and nonprofits throughout different parts of the country, including Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Khagram, as a Gujarat descendant, nonresident Indian, has led many of these organizations to sign on as partners to help elevate access to the initiative and provide direct opportunities to leadership, management and entrepreneurship courses to potential learners.

Other prominent partners include OrangeSlates, an organization that works to create community-based platforms for educators across the globe. Through this partnership, the Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative will be accessible to thousands of additional learners throughout India — and also provide critical access to education throughout the region.

These occasions were met with excitement from leadership from all parties, forging partnerships that have the potential to promise great impact on education in India at large.

“This very important partnership … will not just benefit the students of West Bengal, but the entire globe, going forward,” said Shri Manish Jain IAS, principal secretary of the Department of School Education with the Government of West Bengal.

The Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative offers online, global education in 40 different languages at absolutely no cost to the learner. Women and young women will account for 70% of the 100 million learners the program will reach worldwide. The certificate will be covered by full scholarships and, thus, is at no cost to learners because of the philanthropic support undergirding the initiative.

The foundational program is designed for students of any formal educational level and is already available in Hindi, among other languages prevalent throughout other regions around the world. The advanced program includes courses for learners at the graduate-education level, and the intermediate program will be available in the future for learners at the high school- or undergraduate-education level.

“This is one of the boldest and most ambitious global initiatives for education ever. I want to thank our incredible partners throughout India for publicizing this initiative throughout their regions and for their commitment to advancing educational access throughout the region," Khagram said. “As someone whose ancestry is from the Indian state of Gujarat, I am especially proud of our work to advance this global initiative there and beyond. I know the impact that this program can have across this community, and we are grateful for the full partnership and support of so many organizations located there and throughout India.”

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