On April 23, 2014 The Learning Partnership recognized Nitin Kawale with a 2014 Champion of Public Education award. His exceptional commitment to public education through his personal life has been exemplary. As a business leader, his initiatives have had a strong and positive impact on the Canadian public education system. The following is what he shared with the audience upon accepting the award, in his own words:

"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen:

I’d like to offer my sincerest thanks to The Learning Partnership for this tremendous honour.  I’m extremely grateful and…frankly…humbled.

Awards often go to individuals who are representative of great communities of support – the people who work behind the scenes. And in my case…I represent the fantastic community of Cisco in Canada. Over the years, our employees have received many awards for their engagement and passion. I know I’m standing here today because our people across Canada contribute selflessly to efforts such as public education…and they care deeply about their communities.  

So, this is an honour that I share with them.

I also must thank my wonderful wife, Priti. She is the anchor of our family and makes it so easy for all of us. Her support is unwavering and her encouragement is constant. It means so much to me and I couldn’t do it without you, Priti. Thank you!

I’d also like to recognize and congratulate my friend Alan MacGibbon from Deloitte, who is also recognized tonight.

I’m incredibly proud of Canada and this country’s achievements in public -education. The Conference Board, in a report published last year, gave Canada an “A” on its Education and Skills Report Card. In fact, our country ranks 2nd among 16 developed nations in delivering high-quality education to people between the ages of 5 and 19. That’s high praise for our public and secondary schools.

Perhaps most of us in this room are products of Canadian public education. It certainly played a big part in my life – from the time I arrived in Canada as a young boy from India. I showed up for school on my first day – a kid who couldn’t speak a word of English – and was pretty terrified. But, when I look back on my public education experience…I feel fortunate.

Education and healthcare are what I would describe as great equalizers in society because these institutions elevate quality of life for everyone. The tremendous work of the Learning Partnership provides essential leadership, outstanding value and vital education enrichment.  Much is given and businesses can do their part to also give.

Cisco is doing its part and our expertise and innovation is transforming the way people learn. We’ve taken a leadership position in education through a wide range of efforts.

Cisco has established strong partnerships with higher education organizations nationwide. Through our Network Academy program, we’ve linked to 214 schools, school boards, colleges and universities across the country. The Network Academy has trained more than 113,000 students and given them the skills and certifications needed for jobs in the IT industry.

Through Connected North we’ve brought together an 18-member ecosystem to deliver education and mental health services to Aboriginal youth. It’s also providing professional development, as well as training and support for teachers in Canada’s far north.

Technology makes a profound difference. It’s transforming class rooms and enriching learning. It’s unlocking the potential of students in Nunavut and I believe the power of technology will connect everyone and be the framework of learning for Canada’s next generation.

Let me close by again thanking The Learning Partnership. I’m so appreciative of this honour.    

We at Cisco like to say that the things we do with technology changes the way we work, live, play and learn.  Public education has driven the latter part of that statement for a long time. Technology will drive it further by transforming classrooms, enriching learning, and helping to prepare teachers to do the things they do best.

Models of learning are being re-imagined and reshaped. An exciting and rapid transformation is happening in the world…and the best is yet to come.
Thank you.
Nitin Kawale,
President of Cisco Systems Canada
2014 Champion of Public Education
April 23, 2014