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Transforming schools

Posted on Monday, August 7, 2017

A principals' conclave was held in the Capital last week to highlight the gaps that schools need to fill to remain relevant, reports Shyna Kalra

How do you train the young generation for the future when the future is already here? The limitless exposure to information and ever expanding definition of what a child should be like has left education institutions struggling to keep pace. Today, students are expected to be all-rounders, schools are supposed to know it all. But are schools equipped to take on this transformational role? Educationists and policy-makers came together to discuss the new role schools have to play in a conclave titled, ‘Transformational School Principals,’ organised by The Times of India.

Prakash Javadekar, minister of human resources development (HRD), in his address noted that the need to change the role of school principals has not been discussed enough. “School principals play a role similar to that of a captain in a cricket team.  Both need to try out innovations. While some initiatives succeed, some fail, but both have to get up, motivate themselves and inspire others to do the same,” he said.

The meet highlighted that it is the drawback of the current education policy framework that impacts the Indian education system.  Nuriya Ansari, president, Learning Links foundation, said, “In the current system, an Indian teacher spends around 1200 hours doing the instruction work against an average of 600 hours in foreign countries. Foreign countries devote the rest of the time towards children’s professional growth.” He further added, “ It is time to ask ourselves, whether the policy supports the transformation we all desire or is it aimed at data filling ?

On the other hand, Madhav Vilvarayanallur, partner, chief education centre, KPMG, said: “We cannot talk about EdTech or education through technology or moving our systems from pen and paper to screens at school and at the same time do de-tech by asking our children to limit their exposure to mobile screens at home. We need to understand what we need is tech in the right areas and not tech for long hours for our children.”

Anil Mammen, chief learning design and social impact, Tata Class Edge, raised concerns about assessment techniques of the Indian education system. “Our education system is developed to assess the test-taking abilities of students and not knowledge. We need to focus on portfolio building over the years and not just marks,” he said.

Sudha Goyal, school director, Scottish High International School, said that school systems are suppressing the creativity in children, “Even teachers who say that they encourage creativity end up favouring students who follow norms. Schools need to tap the abilities in every student and step out of the traditional role of mass producing children who fall in the mainstream.”

The conclave concluded that the changes can be made by giving more powers to teachers. Vanita Uppal, director, British School, said, “A principal should start planning his/her own exit. They should encourage more leaders, empower their teachers. Schools need to align with the ideas of the foreign countries but only with context and localisation in mind.”


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