By Bharat Malik, Founder and Chairman, Education Today Foundation
Education has gone through a sweeping change in the past year. Call it adapting or progress or metamorphosis, any change in an organisation requires massive impetus of resources, which in turn mean ‘investments’. As we all know, that not all investments are directly linked to returns and this is especially true for the education sector.
Schools managements are always walking on a tight rope where they need to balance children’s need for continuous learning on one side and financial implications on the other. Many progressive schools have performed brilliantly in the past year by bringing in technology and introducing anytime, anywhere classes.
Technology adaptation across all our schools-
In our case, our school, Arya Gurukul in Kalyan was a torchbearer in digital learning at a time of crisis. We are fortunate to have teachers who are trained on technology and were even able to conduct ‘online examinations’ within 48 hours of the lockdown being announced. But in this case, the school caters to a strata of society who are relatively well-off.
Our management also has a Budget private school under its umbrella- St. Mary’s High School, Kalyan, which was a different ball game altogether. We did experience some amount of hesitation and a mindset –block from the teachers towards moving away from the traditional chalk and blackboard teaching. Parents also owned limited resources of devices and internet connectivity. These are very practical considerations in our country.
The larger picture-
Although, I would say that AryaGlobal Group has been fortunate enough to witness positive adaptability to online education via all its schools- whether budget school or not, I’m afraid that this might not hold true for the education sector at large in our country.
The Pandemic forced many Budget schools to shut schools, it caused loss of jobs for many teachers and loss of precious learning hours for many students in the farthest corners of our country. While many schools have taken the beacon of education to the next level through new age learning techniques, incorporating 21st century teaching learning skills. On the other hand, many schools in our villages or small towns just couldn’t cope. This has further widened the educational gap between the economically well-off and the marginalised sections of our society.
Invaluable contributors- our Teachers-
One aspect remains constant, nevertheless- the hardwork, dedication, resilience of the teaching community to upgrade themselves and becomes learners for life. All our teachers at AryaGlobal schools, including our preschool teachers from Little Aryans Pre-K have spent innumerable man-hours of training and have earned the title of MIE Educators (Microsoft innovative Educators).
To uphold and respect these invaluable contributions of our teachers, we have started paying all their salaries in full and even paid arrears for the months where we couldn’t pay full salaries. This is a mark of respect for their belief and trust in us, which helped us cope during dire times.
As we are looking at a “Hybrid Model” of teaching in future we are even working on a model where they can make avail of good quality laptops that will make their work easier.
The mental health of our teachers is extremely important to us and hence a counselling helpline was established, coupled with a Covid helpline for members of our staff who are grappling with Covid patients in their homes. During our Annual Review and Planning Meet our motto emerged as ‘Breakdown, Breakthrough and Breakfree’ that provided immense clarity of thought and positivity. Finally, we planned and organised an Award function that boosted the morale of our teachers immensely.
Importance of trust-
To conclude, the rapidly changing times call for utmost transparency and trust among all stakeholders- the management, the teachers, the parents, the students as well as the government. Only then will the education scenario in our nation achieve the potential it is worthy of.