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Leadership is finding yourself | Interview with Sandeep Dutt

Sdutt
Experiences shape our lives and encouraging students in activities helps build confidence, knowledge and prepare them for life, says Sandeep Dutt, Chairman, Learning Forward India

You have seen the education pattern in India and abroad. Where does the disparity lie?

The term education encompasses a whole gamut of experiential learning which, in a school, is given through teachers in the classroom and often, more importantly, outside. It is the nature of the experience and how it is designed to be imparted that makes the difference between a good school and an ordinary school. How the academic subjects are taught and what is it a school should teach?  Our education system, unlike other nation does not encourage creativity to a large extent, it focuses more on the skills for working in the manufacturing and services sector, with low focus on innovation and research.

How can the community be involved and sustainable goals achieved by the schools?

Role of the School Management Committee (SMC) in the operations of the school is very important and a good SMC will be an asset to for school operations. Section 21 of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 (RTE), mandates the formation of School Management Committees (SMCs) in all elementary government, government-aided schools and special category schools in the country. The RTE Act envisions a SMC as the basic unit of a decentralised model of governance with active involvement of parents in the school’s functioning. This body involves the parents and the community in running the school and also works as a conscience keeper for the institution. The members of the SMC should be involved in the operations of the school and assist Principal in effectively managing the school.

The school works for the personal and social development of an individual, by subscribing to our philosophy of quality in education, offering an environment where experiential learning is made possible through activities beyond just study; this brings to life learning that would otherwise be theoretical and uncoordinated. We bring together the key stakeholders – teachers, students, parents and the management, to work together and work to prepare the child for the world.

What is K-12 system of Indian Education lacking in the present era? How to change this and bring India at par with other countries like Finland, Singapore, and UK?

There are three important functions, among others, of the educational process in the classroom apart from mere learning:

  • To develop problem-solving abilities
  • To develop creative abilities
  • To develop curiosity and an inquisitive spirit

We live in a society consumed by materialism and the desire for more. Does this mean our next generation of children will grow up being literate and numerate greedy consumers whose lives are judged by the size of their houses and the latest model BMW on the drive? Or can our society along with the desire of educators teach our children the values they need to take responsibility for living and learning? It’s simple; the children are our future, it’s our moral duty in schools to provide a Values-Based curriculum.

A country is as developed as its’ Education Sector is. We in India should make ‘affordable quality education’ our development mantra and this alone will help us develop as a great nation. No matter what path we take on the road to economic development, the speed breaker will always be the quality of education!

What are the roles that schools can play to inculcate leadership qualities among their students?

In keeping with its holistic approach to education, the school must offer extensive extracurricular programs in addition to its comprehensive academic courses. School activities include a wide range of sports programs including opportunities to participate in regional tournaments, as well as drama, debate, arts and crafts, music, environmental education and community service to provide a well rounded education. Students also have the unique opportunity to go on educational field trips both within the state and beyond. For many students these trips are their first time away from home and the exposure to other cities and towns creates lifelong impressions.

How do the 4S’s – Service, Skill, Sport and Study – shapes our lives? Take a closer look at your school years and see how first from service; on to skill… we evolve. If you delve even further, you will find that the 4S’s are placed in the dictionary in the very same order. Moving from your small family space on to school, it all starts with learning to give and share, your space, your food, your things… and this really if the first form of service. Yes, you acquire skills, play sport for good health and get the full experience at school, to achieve what we call the goal of ‘study’.  Leadership is nothing but ‘finding yourself’ and a good school that looks beyond just study will help you find yourself, by following your passion, in your dominant ‘S’.

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