Friday, 4 November 2011

Seeds of change

A group of friends quit their corporate jobs and set out on a journey to reform the elementary education system in the country. And within a span of 10 years, 700 schools, 250 million children and 25,000 teachers across the country are part of their five step process for improving not only academics, but also inculcating entrepreneurial and leadership qualities among students.
One of the founders of idiscoveri, Anustup Kashyap explains about their initiatives, idiscoveri and Xseed. Stressing the need for reforming the educational system, Anustup, a Harvard graduate, points out, “When it comes to education, India needs a real solution at the elementary level, and this is the area we are focusing on.
In a country, where there are 220 million school-going children, it gets really difficult to find quality education. We really forget the fact that every child is not the same and they get crushed between the needs of parents and peer pressure.
A lot of schools these days focus more on infrastructure, which is also important.
But, academic standards should still be the priority.” He believes the government’s investment in education sector, which is quite a lot, hasn’t yielded the desired results. “Hence, we came up with idiscoveri,” he says.
It is a social enterprise in school education, enterprise leadership development and outdoor education space and aims at improving the quality of education and learning across schools.
“Ashish Rajpal, founder and CEO of Idiscoveri, Ranny Gulati, co-founder and I met at Harvard and we planned this initiative. We assembled 250 professionals from IITs, IIMs, Harvard, Cambridge and many other places and focused on the elementary education system in the country as it is very important to have a strong fundamental education,” recalls Anustup.
During the first five years, the group experimented on training of teachers and taught them different techniques as textbook education is not enough for children, he explains. But the idea did not work forcing the team to come up with XSEED in 2007 which is a four-way plan for schools.
The flagship program XSEED is a path-breaking solution for teaching and learning in K-12 schools. Anustup says, “We applied a comprehensive solution applicable to any kind of school. We developed more than 4,000 lesson plans for teachers and supplemented them with teacher training and workbooks for children which have practical and fun methods of learning concepts, and assessment tests for both teachers and students.” According to him, throughout their experiments or endeavours, they kept one thing in mind which is never to make changes in the syllabus.
All the concepts are taught as per the State curriculum. The five questions they have addressed in this process are: Why is a student learning the concept? How can it be more fun? How can they analyse the concept? How can they implement it in their daily life? How can they solve any questions dealing with the concept?� Anustup explains, “We have taken up science, social science, math and english and in each of these subjects, the teachers are even trained on how to start a class.” He reveals that a vast majority of schools implementing XSEED are from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. “In Hyderabad schools like the Hyderabad Public School, Neeraj Public School and many other schools in Guntur, Khammam and Karimnagar also implement these methods,” he says.
School Of Tomorrow
The School of Tomorrow is a thought-leadership initiative that engages top educationists from India and abroad which focuses on improving the quality of school education in India. In its third edition, the conference is designed to demonstrate practically what schools of tomorrow could be like.
The conference will be on November 11. The conference will bring together 1500 educators and experts across four cities, Hyderabad, Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai.

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