Education Measured In Marksheet Is Recipe For Disaster: Principal, The Scindia School

Dr. Madhav Deo Saraswat believes in the need for a very progressive education policy structure in the coming decade

Dr. Madhav Deo Saraswat, Principal of The Scindia School talks to BW Businessworld about education policy, learning outcomes, and preparing students to help their careers and jobs.   

What changes does education policy needs for the next decade?

I think what’s happening is that we’re still running after marks and that’s ruining the way curriculum is transacted in the class and perhaps changing the nature of the relationship between the student and the teacher. Education converted into a mark-sheet is a recipe for disaster because then it guides the teacher’s quality of engagement in the class and also guides the nature of the association of the student with the teacher as well. With youngsters, it is essential that learning happens in an environment that is not too linear and a little less result-oriented. To improve teaching-learning we should emphasize creating an environment where relationship and socio-emotional bonding is encouraged so that students appreciate the value system of life from a larger perspective. Also, if there’s a more pragmatic policy of education, we’ll value different aspects of students’ talents and expertise, and in the process carve a way for the teeming millions in this country to find alternative careers and jobs. I think we need a very progressive policy structure in the coming decade. There are some good things happening already; a lot more has to be done and rather quickly.

How does blending technology in K 12 education influence learning outcomes? Does it really bring engagement to learning?

Technology has become an integral part of the world today. It is important that we acknowledge this fact and adapt to the changing times. Blending technology in K 12 education helps the learners to engage more intensively in the classroom and makes the classroom interesting. It empowers both the learners and the teachers. The use of ICT in the classroom also enables children to realize a wide array of avenues for the future. We also acknowledge the fact that students should be encouraged to be producers of this technology rather than being mere consumers. Upon using appropriately, learners definitely benefit from technology and it does enhance the process of teaching-learning. 

How do you decide on the curriculum for students? How often is the curriculum reviewed?

The curriculum at Scindia is designed in sync with the guidelines of the National Curriculum Framework. However, CBSE provides a lot of flexibility in terms of pedagogy, as it realizes that the one size fits all policy cannot be applied especially to an institution like a School. Therefore, while we do comply with the CBSE norms, a lot of hands-on approach is integrated into the teaching-learning process to make it more dynamic. As an institution, we are mindful of the fact that the needs of our learners are varied in nature and therefore we make a conscious effort of designing the curriculum centered around the end beneficiary i.e. the student. As far as reviewing the curriculum is concerned, it is two-fold which means external and internal. External, is of course as per the intervention of CBSE, however at the same time internally as review the curriculum every year to identify if there are any loopholes that need to be plugged. 

How do schools integrate academics and extracurricular to go hand in hand?

Education furthers the complete growth and development of an individual, making him essentially adept to excel at whatever life brings his way. The notion of holistic development regards every aspect of education as vital, be it curricular or co-curricular. Life skills, extrapolation, aptitude, etc. are aspects of an individual that need to be strengthened. Schools must make extra-curricular activities a part of the learning process for the child to prosper. Drafting a well-planned layout and allotting appropriate time slots to various activities in the schools would be empowering. Also, the assessment of every learner must have dimensions of co-curricular activities along with academics for the benefit of children and the larger institution.

Cost of Education is rising fast. In fact, many times it becomes a hindrance for imparting education to the right meritorious candidate. Can you share your thoughts on this?

I would agree with the fact that the cost of education is certainly on the rise, which makes it inaccessible for meritorious candidates who may not come from strong financial backgrounds. The government is making an effort through a number of its initiatives to provide equal opportunities to such candidates; however, the exponential population becomes a roadblock in ensuring the efficacy of these schemes/initiatives. I think we as a community need to take this up as a shared responsibility. Educational institutes must have a comprehensive scholarship policy that is merit-based, as this would promote the spirit of meritocracy and would help in the building of the nation in the long run. 

As for Scindia, a few steps taken by us to bring the financially disadvantaged in parity with the others is our well-laid scholarship and bursary policy. It is indeed a matter of huge satisfaction that we are able to assist such meritocratic pupil with a corpus of approximately one crore rupees. We have recently launched a new bursary policy for the wards of defence personnel, which shall further add to the cause. Having said that, I would like to lay emphasis on creating a generation of individuals who are sensitive to such causes. The ones who have enough resources in the community should take the onus of contributing towards the ones who are perhaps not as privileged, this would create a sustainable model and ensure continuity of these endeavours. To be brutally honest there is no quick fix solution to this issue that we are battling with. Only when as a community we work consciously towards it, shall it be addressed.

Educational institutions are becoming a 'brand' by employing marketing money. Has it become a necessity? 

School branding is a relatively new concept, and school education has become a crowded and complex market place, therefore to thrive in an environment like this, schools have to carve an identity of their own. This identity has to distinguish itself from the rest and provide a leading-edge to its students in the increasingly uncertain and ever-changing world. There are two parts of this process, first being doing some genuine educational work in our schools so that the brand/ school creates an identity organically from within, and once this is done, one has to transfer this identity to public perception for which marketing is essential and for both these processes one needs resources. So it has become a necessity.

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